State Roundup, January 27, 2020

REPUBLICAN ASKS TO REMOVE SUPPORT FROM BILL: A Republican leader in the House of Delegates who backed a measure opposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has moved to have his name taken off the bill. The measure, House Bill 292, would require the state to get the approval of affected counties before building a toll-financed highway, bridge or tunnel. House Deputy Minority Whip Sid Saab (R-Anne Arundel) had agreed to co-sponsor the bill at the start of the session. But now Saab says he wants only Anne Arundel County to gain new power, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.

STREAM REPAIR INVESTMENT QUESTIONED: Since 2010, when the Obama administration enacted federal water quality requirements for the bay, 142 miles of streams have been repaired in its watershed, with about half of that work occurring in the District, Virginia and Maryland, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But environmental scientists say it is unclear whether the high-cost projects are worth the investment, Antonio Olivo of the Post writes.

ANALYSIS: SLOWING TRUMP ADMIN DAMAGE TO BAY: In an analysis for the Post, Robert McCartney writes that the Trump administration’s crusade to dismantle environmental protections has advanced to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. In the past month, the EPA has signaled it will not force Pennsylvania to abide by a regional anti-pollution program for the bay adopted under former President Barack Obama. The agency’s stance risks reversing years of progress in cleaning up the world’s largest estuary and regional treasure, according to bay advocates. The damage might be forestalled.

RX POT GROWER DEMANDS LICENSE AWARDS: A top applicant in the latest round of applications for medical cannabis growers licenses is demanding the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission immediately award four licenses following the conviction of a state delegate whom it says corrupted the process, Bryan Sears is reporting in the Daily Record. The letter comes even as the commission prepares to hire an outside firm to begin verifying information provided by applicants.

REPEALING ‘ARCHAIC’ SEX LAWS: Maryland lawmakers hope to repeal “archaic” provisions in the state’s spousal defense for sex crimes and sodomy laws with the reintroduction of legislation this session, Jeff Barnes reports for Capital News Service. Lawmakers on Thursday expect to hear Senate bill 230, which would repeal the use of marriage as a defense to prosecution of some sex crimes and, earlier last week, introduced House Bill 81, which would repeal the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice.

ACTIVIST TAPPED TO FILL DEL. SYDNOR’s SEAT: Democratic Party officials in Baltimore County on Saturday chose longtime county activist Sheila Ruth to serve out the remainder of Catonsville attorney Charles Sydnor’s term in the House of Delegates, following Sydnor’s special appointment to the state Senate last month, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

GLENN’s FALL FROM GRACE: William Zorzi of Maryland Matters writes about how former Del. Cheryl Glenn found herself facing federal bribery charges, writing that by the spring of 2018, Glenn was in a financial jam. She was behind in payments with the company that held a $241,500 home-equity mortgage on her East Baltimore home, while a Baltimore City property tax bill for more than $2,700 was coming due – and she still had not paid the tax bill for a similar amount from the previous year. Her $50,330-a-year salary as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates was not covering the outlay.

BILL WOULD LET DIVORCING COUPLES LIVE IN SAME HOME: Maryland couples could file for divorce while living under the same roof under legislation heard in the House of Delegates Thursday. “The concern is for individuals who cannot afford to live separate and apart, but to help them get on with their lives,” said Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard). Maryland law now requires residents seeking a divorce to live separately and undergo “separation of affection” or lack of sexual intimacy, for a year before filing, writes Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters.

WOMEN’s ACCESS TO PRE-RELEASE SERVICE CRITICIZED: Maryland corrections officials plan to convert a Jessup facility into a center dedicated to preparing inmates to return home, but advocates say incarcerated women still won’t have the same access to services as men, Aison Knezevich of the Sun reports. The state wants to turn the Brockbridge Correctional Facility into a “comprehensive pre-release, re-entry, and workforce development facility” for both men and women.

OPINION: ENCOURAGING SIGNS FROM ANNAPOLIS: In a column for the Carroll County Times, Bill Kennedy offers some random thoughts on the happenings of the day, including that he is “encouraged by the news that Gov. Larry Hogan has included over $7 million in his proposed budget for items that are very important to Carroll County. Now, the trick is to get the Democratic majority in the legislature to go along. I think there might be some reductions in the amounts for the items, but by and large, since much of the money is for education-related purposes and infrastructure, Carroll should do fairly well.”

13 MO CO LAWMAKERS SEEK DEM CONVENTION SEATS: Thirteen state legislators from Montgomery County hope to be chosen for a trip to this summer’s Democratic National Convention. A half-dozen of them filed with the State Board of Elections just hours before Friday night’s deadline. The group comprises 41% of the county’s 32-member legislative delegation in Annapolis, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

BARVE, FELDMAN PONDER COMPTROLLER RUN: Following Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s announcement this month that he is running for governor in 2022, at least two Montgomery County Democrats – Del. Kumar Barve of Rockville and state Sen. Brian Feldman of Potomac – are considering seeking the job Franchot will leave, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

3 MD LAWMAKERS SEEK CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Jenna Portnoy of the Post writes about three Maryland lawmakers who are seeking the late Elijah Cummings 7th Congressional District seat, writing, “A firebrand liberal. A veteran legislative leader. A doctor who sees public service as ‘a calling.’ Three Maryland state lawmakers are seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, even as his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and his close friend, Kweisi Mfume, occupy the spotlight.”

7th DISTRICT LONG SHOTS: Frederick Kunkle of the Post writes about the really long shot candidates in the 7th District race, writing that “Republicans face long odds in the race to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and perhaps no one knows that better than the eight who have signed up to try.”

THE 7th CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS: KWEISI MFUME: Twenty-four years after leaving Congress to become president of the NAACP, 71-year-old Kweisi Mfume is hoping to renew old acquaintances — and his political life — to win back the 7th Congressional District seat he held for a decade, Jeff Barker of the Sun writes.

OPINION: CRIME, COURT ISSUES IN ANNAPOLIS: The editorial board for the Sun takes up some crime, court and convict issues being debated by legislators this session, including whether to repeal sodomy laws, automatically expunge pot possession convictions or take the governor out of certain parole decisions.

MARYLAND SCHOOLS ADDRESS CORONAVIRUS: Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes that in Maryland, precautions against the coronavirus that is devastating China are being taken. Students and faculty at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University are being told to call, not visit, a medical provider if they experienced flu-like symptoms after traveling to China. MedChi, the state association for doctors, is recommending medical providers screen anyone who has traveled to China and report suspected cases to local health departments. At least one local Chinese New Year celebration in Howard County has been canceled.

B’MORE MAYOR HOPEFULS PLEDGE CONTROL: Candidates in Baltimore’s crowded mayoral race pledged Saturday to regain control of what some called a city in crisis, appealing to voters during one of the first public forums of the campaign, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun is reporting.

STOKES FILES FOR CITY COUNCIL PREZ: Former Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes filed late Friday to seek the Democratic nomination to run for Baltimore City Council president, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports. City and U.S. House candidates had until 9 p.m. Friday to fill out paperwork to run for offices that will be on the ballot this year. The primary elections are scheduled for April 28, with the general election on Nov. 3.

WHO IS RUNNING CITYWIDE? Maryland Matters staff puts together a list of candidates running for Baltimore Citywide offices, which includes mayor, city county president and comptroller.

WHO IS RUNNING IN CITY COUNCIL RACES? Maryland Matters staff puts together the list of candidates running for city council seats.

B’MORE BIZ LEADERS SEEK NEW CITY HALL LEADERS: Infuriated by City Hall’s impotence to solve problems such as synchronizing traffic lights downtown — and avoid self-inflicted failures — like not purchasing insurance against ransomware attacks likethe one that crippled city agencies last spring — many of Baltimore’s business leaders say they badly want new leadership at City Hall. Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports that, as a result, some in the business community are funding candidates, up and down the ballot, from outside the city’s traditional Democratic political circles in a bid to reverse the city’s downward trajectory.

B’MORE FAILS TO COLLECT UBER, LYFT TAXES: Colin Campbell of the Sun reports that the Baltimore City Finance Department is saying that Baltimore has collected no taxes on an estimated 9 million Uber and Lyft rides per year despite a 2015 state law enabling it to do so, costing the city roughly $2.1 million in revenue annually.

CHILDHOOD HUNGER & MINIMUM WAGE FIGHT: Elliot Jaspin, who has been writing a series on childhood hunger for Maryland Matters, now delves into the minimum wage battles in the state and how the wage affects the hunger situation. The classic argument against raising the minimum wage is that “If businesses were forced to pay more to their workers … they would have to lay off some of their workforce to remain competitive. Or … they could raise their prices. But that would put them at a competitive disadvantage…” Is that accurate? “… Raise the minimum wage and people will have more money to buy food. This is especially true in Maryland, where the current minimum wage of $11 means a person would earn $22,880 a year. That is far below the $60,000 that MIT has said a family of one child and one parent would need to survive in Anne Arundel County.”

IMMIGRANTS FILL FARMING GAP: Agriculture was once the driving economic force of Montgomery County, now a booming suburb of 1 million people. But after World War II, rapid industrialization drew residents and resources away from the land, leaving just several hundred farmers in what is now the county’s protected 93,000-acre agricultural reserve. But as the county’s demographics change, another shift is under way, writes Rebecca Tan of the AP writes. Immigrants, many of whom grew up farming in their home countries, are taking over small pockets of the land.

PITTMAN KEEPS TAX HIKE OPTION OPEN: Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports that Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he hasn’t ruled out raising taxes again to meet the needs of the county after hosting five budget town halls over the past three weeks. Among the priorities, residents have advocated for a rugby field in North County; a swim center in West County; sidewalks along Duvall Highway in Pasadena; more resources for Animal Care and Control; and better pay and benefits for school nurses.

WA CO EMS LOOKS TO INCENTIVES: Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that several local emergency service officials said incentive programs planned by Washington County government could help retain and recruit volunteers as well as support volunteer fire and EMS companies. But only time will tell if they truly can make a difference.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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