State Roundup, January 28, 2020

SENATE PANEL GRILLS UMMS NOMINEES: A Maryland Senate committee had tough questions Monday night as its members vetted more than two dozen nominees to the University of Maryland Medical System board – part of the fallout over a self-dealing scandal that rocked the hospital network last year, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun. Members of the Senate’s Executive Nominations Committee are considering 18 appointees to the board, most of whom were nominated by Gov. Larry Hogan after the General Assembly last year passed sweeping reform legislation that forced all the board members to resign and reapply for their posts.

BILL’s GOAL: MARC TRAINS IN N.VA.: Maryland residents would be able to ride MARC commuter trains to jobs in Northern Virginia under legislation being introduced in the General Assembly this week. Luz Lazo of the Post reports that the bill directs the state to begin laying the groundwork that would allow MARC trains to travel past Union Station in the District and into Virginia, with the goal of having the Maryland commuter rail service operating across the Potomac River within a few years.

POT POSSESSION, PROSECUTION & PRINCE GEORGE’S: Prince George’s County doesn’t have the money to prosecute most marijuana possession cases, the county’s top prosecutor told state lawmakers last week. And even if funding wasn’t a constraint, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D) said, successful prosecutions would be difficult to come by because of profound changes in public attitudes toward pot, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. “Society is moving. That’s just the reality,” Braveboy told the Prince George’s House delegation Friday. In focusing more on distribution cases — dealers — than on possession, Braveboy is following a trend among prosecutors.

AARP ADDRESSES AGING ISSUES IN ANNAPOLIS: Members of the Maryland Chapter of the AARP have been lobbying for their members and families on a number of measures in the opening weeks of the Maryland General Assembly’s 438th session. In between lobbying efforts, the Daily Record spoke with AARP Maryland’s State President Jim Campbell about the organization’s efforts this session as well as the growing number of older adults who want to age in place.

SEN. JENNINGS: PREAKNESS MUST STAY IN B’MORE: Making sure the Preakness Stakes stays in Baltimore must be one of the top goals for the General Assembly this year, Sen. J.B. Jennings told a group of regional business leaders on Monday, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

BILL WOULD ALLOW JURISDICTIONS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE: Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Annapolis, is sponsoring legislation that would allow counties or cities with a population of more than 30,000 to create resiliency authorities to help combat the effects of climate change in the short, medium and long term, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Capital Gazette.

B’MORE POLICE ATTITUDE TOWARD CONSENT DECREE CHANGING: Representatives of the Baltimore Police Department on Monday told members of a state panel charged with review and oversight of relations between police and the communities they serve that officer tensions over a consent decree implemented in 2017 and other departmental changes have begun to dissipate, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.

MORE TRAINING FOR PERSONAL-CRISIS RESPONSE: Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports that veterans and their families across Maryland could have access to mental health training that would help them identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders if a bill from Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, passes.

DOULAS CONCERNED ABOUT NEW BILL: A bill in the Maryland Senate would include doulas under the state’s Medicaid program, but some local doulas have called the bill problematic, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News Post reports. Doulas, who are trained, can act as an advocate for a pregnant women as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. Under the Senate bill, written by Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles), Maryland Medical Assistance — the state’s version of Medicaid — would cover certified doula services, including childbirth education and physical as well as emotional support.

DEVELOPERS SEEK BPW REVIEW OF CONTRACT: The owners of Montgomery Park have asked Maryland’s spending board to examine what they call inaccurate information provided to the panel prior to voting in favor of a sole-source lease with Kornblatt Co., Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. Developers Samuel Himmelrich Jr. and David Tufaro signed a letter dated Monday and addressed to the three members of Maryland’s Board of Public Works. The letter contends that details discovered since the board’s Jan. 8 hearing call into question the validity of information the panel relied on to approve a 10-year, $1.68 million annual lease for the Maryland Insurance Administration at Kornblatt’s property in downtown Baltimore.

HOGAN NAMES CHANEL BRANCH TO GLENN SEAT: Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Chanel Branch to the Maryland House of Delegates on Monday, filling the seat of Cheryl Glenn, who recently resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. Talia Richman of the Sun reports that Branch, a Democrat, was nominated after a controversial meeting two weeks ago in which she cast the deciding vote for herself.

THE 7th CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS: DEL. TERRI HILL: As a state legislator, Del. Terri Hill has parlayed her medical experience into legislative action. During last year’s session, the Harvard University and Columbia University-trained physician shepherded a bill to expand HIV prevention efforts for minors. And her legislation aimed at reducing youth sports injuries, although ultimately unsuccessful, sparked an ongoing conversation in Annapolis about the dangers of contact sports for children. Now, Hill, 60, hopes to put that experience to work on Capitol Hill, Emily Opilo of the Sun writes.

CUMMINGS’ PROTEGE SEEKS MENTOR’s SEAT: Harry Spikes has met with thousands of constituents in Maryland’s 7th congressional district since he began working for the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) 15 years ago. And he was endorsed by Cummings’ daughters. Yet Spikes appears to be having a hard time gaining momentum in the Feb. 4 special election — where 24 Democrats are facing off to determine who will fill Cummings’ seat for the remainder of 2020, Glynis Kazanjian of Maryland Matters reports.

HOMELAND SECURITY ON FREDERICK SHERIFF: A letter from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General says Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins isn’t required to hold public steering committee meetings as part of the 287(g) program, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News Post writes. The letter was in response to an inquiry from Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), who asked last August whether Jenkins (R) was required to hold those meetings as part of his memorandum of agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

B’MORE AIRBNBs GENERATE $20M: Airbnb hosts who rented out city properties generated nearly $20 million in cumulative income in 2019 — an increase of over 24% from the previous year, the company announced Wednesday. Hallie Miller of the Sun writes that the announcement follows the Baltimore City Council’s approval of an ordinance regulating and extending the hotel tax to short-term residential rentals.

MARYLANDER TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS: A Maryland resident is being tested for the new coronavirus that has sickened thousands and killed dozens in an outbreak that began in — and remains centered in — China but has crept to other countries in recent days, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports. The person or their location was not identified by the Maryland Department of Health, which said the patient is in good condition and being monitored while awaiting test results.

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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