State Roundup, January 31, 2020

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OVERRIDES VETOES: Maryland lawmakers overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes five times on Thursday, reports Ryan Little for the Capital News Service. But they gave up on three other bills, including one designed to make freight rail safer.

END NEARING FOR 7THDISTRICT RACE: Days after the emotional funeral of congressman and civil rights icon Elijah Cummings, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a Feb. 4 special primary to fill his seat – and Democratic candidates in the deep-blue 7th congressional district were off to the races, reports Emily Sullivan for WYPR. “The whole race has been very fast. It’s been emotional,” said Martha McKenna, a longtime Democratic campaign consultant and advisor to Maya Rockeymore Cummings.

  • Many voters don’t even realize that the election is Tuesday and they will have 32 choices, reports Jean Marbella and Jeff Barker for the Sun.And while overshadowed by other races this year, including Baltimore mayor and U.S. president, the special election looms large to some, given the prominence of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

OPINION: AFRO ENDORSES MFUME:  The Afro is endorsing Kweisi Mfume for the 7th District seat at one of the most difficult times in Baltimore City’s and the nation’s history, the newspaper writes on the seat left vacant by the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

GUN CONTROL ACTIVISTS URGE PASSAGE OF LONG-GUN BILL: Hundreds of gun-control advocates converged on Annapolis on Thursday to urge passage of legislation that would require background checks for secondary transfers of rifles and shotguns. Danielle Veith, a volunteer with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, pushed back against opponents’ claims that the legislation would restrict the activities of responsible gun owners, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.

  • Democrats and Republicans have been at odds over the bill that supporters say would close a loophole and could help save lives, reports Leah Crawley for WBFF. The House of Delegates is expected to continue the debate today.

DELANEY DROPS PRESIDENTIAL BID: John Delaney, a businessman and former Maryland congressman who launched a bid for the presidency nearly three years ago, has dropped out of the race, reports Amy Wang for the Post. He said in a statement that he doesn’t want to take support away from other moderate candidates in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

ARMING BALTIMORE CO SCHOOL OFFICERS: As of now, it is against the law for Baltimore City school police officers to carry their weapons on campus, but legislators outside the beltway are leading the charge to fully arm school cops, reports Tim Tooten for WBAL TV.

BALTIMORE CO VACANCIES FILLED: Two vacant General Assembly seats were filled Thursday when Gov. Larry Hogan named Del. Shelly Hettleman to an open seat in the state Senate and progressive activist Sheila Ruth to an open seat in the House of Delegates, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

BALTIMORE CLEAN AIR ACT DELAYED: Baltimore will hold off on implementing its Clean Air Act emissions mandates until a federal judge rules on pending motions in a lawsuit challenging the ordinance and saying it is preempted by state and federal laws, reports Heather Cobun for The Daily Record.

HELP FOR FREDERICK RENTERS: Frederick County is looking to join others in the state that can provide some relief for renters who are elderly or disabled, reports Steve Bohnel for The Frederick News-Post. The bill would add Frederick County to a list of jurisdictions that allow their governments to provide grants to disabled or elderly residents who are renters.

RECOVERING ‘HEALTHY HOLLY’ MONEY: The University of Maryland Medical System is seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to disgraced former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh for her “Healthy Holly” books, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

12THEARLY VOTING SITE IN MOCO: A bill to require a 12th early voting site in Montgomery County was heard in Annapolis this week as state delegates sharply questioned local election officials who testified against the legislation, reports Kate Masters for Bethesda Beat.

CARROLL POLLS SECURITY REQUESTED: Confrontations at polling places and concerned election judges prompted Carroll County’s election director to request “more of a presence” of police at polls in the 2020 elections, reports Mary Grace Keller for the Carroll County Times. But the county commissioners would not approve the request because it’s not included in the budget.

OPINION: JUDICIAL ELECTIONS HAS LINGERED TOO LONG WITHOUT CHANGE: Judges should not have to run for election, writes the Editorial Advisory Board of The Daily Record. The board supports the bills to change that, but, should the decades-long stalemate regarding circuit court judges stymie these bills, it strongly encourages advocates on both sides of the debate to come together in an attempt to agree upon some compromise that could improve the current unsatisfactory system for selecting and retaining circuit court judges in office.

BROWN WANTS BORDER WALL ANSWERS: While the rest of the nation seems engrossed by the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a group of 27 lawmakers – including Maryland U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown – wants answers from the administration regarding how the funding for the border wall construction is affecting the military’s ability to protect national security, writes Mark Gray write for the Afro.

WORKING WITH ICE QUESTIONED: Local officials around Maryland face pressure from constituents who are outraged over Immigration and Customs Enforcement practices and want their elected leaders to cancel contracts with the federal agency, part of a larger national movement against the Trump administration’s immigration policies, reports Alison Knezevich for the Sun.

TESTIMONY ON PROPOSED STRANGULATION BILL: Because Maryland is one of the last states to have a first-degree assault law for strangulation and suffocation, Del. Jesse Pippy said the state needs to act after powerful testimony in favor of his bill on the issue, reports Heather Mongilio for the Frederick News-Post.

EDWARDS SPONSORS BILLS: Several bills sponsored primarily by Republican Sen. George Edwards will be reviewed soon by Senate committees, reports Renée Shreve for the Garrett County Republican. This includes adding pets to the reimbursable list for black bear damage, increasing the interest rate for overdue county property taxes at the request of the Garrett County commissioners, and allowing law enforcement agencies to sell forfeited firearms to federally licensed dealers.

CANNABIS OVERSIGHT COMES FROM OTHER STATES: Maryland did not have a legal cannabis industry until 2016. So, the state had to pull professionals from other industries, reports Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USERS’ RIGHT TO ARMS: Del. Michael Hough presented a bill to allow those who use medical marijuana to purchase, carry or possess firearms, or to be issued a handgun permit, reports Steve Bohnel for the Frederick News-Post.

MOUNTAIN MARYLAND IN ANNAPOLIS: U.S. Rep. David Trone joined Garrett County leaders at the 44thannual Mountain Maryland PACE Reception and Breakfast last week in Annapolis, reports Renée Shreve for the Garrett County Republican. The two-day event was sponsored by the Cumberland/Allegany County Industrial Foundation and the Garrett County Development Corp.

HANCE TO LEAD SIERRA CLUB: Maryland’s chapter of the Sierra Club announced its new officers this week, and the group has elected the youngest woman ever to serve as chapter leader, 31-year-old St. Mary’s educator Rosa Hance, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.