State Roundup: Monday’s special session to feature redistricting, violent crime, transit investment

State Roundup: Monday’s special session to feature redistricting, violent crime, transit investment

At a Hanukkah brunch at Government House Sunday, longtime Parole Commission chair David Blumberg, right, was sporting one of his famous jackets as he listened to Gov. Larry Hogan as Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford looks on. Governor's Office photo

SPECIAL SESSION PREVIEW: Maryland’s congressional redistricting process will come to a head next week when both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly will convene in special session to consider proposed congressional maps from the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission and the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission. Allison Mollenkamp/ Capital News Service via Maryland Reporter

  • Democrats hold nearly all the cards, with large enough majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly to brush aside Republican complaints and override a threatened veto by Gov. Larry Hogan, who has vowed to reject any map he deems “unfair.” Bryn Stole/The Baltimore Sun
  • Anti-gerrymandering activists say the window for members of the public to register to testify on redistricting is too narrow. The opportunity to sign up, through the General Assembly website, opened at 9 a.m. Thursday and will close at 6 p.m. Friday. Bennett Leckrone/ Maryland Matters
  • Redistricting isn’t the only subject that will come up — one of Gov. Larry Hogan’s biggest priorities ahead of the special session includes legislation he’s tried to get through in the past targeting violent crime. Mikenzie Frost/WBFF
  • They also will have to deal with Hogan’s vetoes of bills passed during this year’s regular session. One of those bills, the Transit Safety and Investment Act, would have required the state Department of Transportation to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to catch up on a backlog of maintenance projects that stands now at $2 billion. Joel McCord/ WYPR
  • Members of the public will be allowed inside the state Senate and House of Delegates chambers during next week’s special session, but admission will be limited to a fraction of capacity and anyone entering the State House will be required to wear a mask at all times. Committees will meet virtually. Bruce DePuyt/ Maryland Matters

IS BIDEN TRAVEL BAN HYPOCRITICAL? Several state lawmakers said Thursday it is hypocritical for President Joe Biden to have implemented travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other African nations in response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, after having harshly criticized then-President Donald Trump for taking similar actions with China during the early days of the pandemic. Bryan Renbaum/ Maryland Reporter

RAVENELL TRIAL STARTING, CATCHING EYE OF LAWYERS NATIONWIDE: The trial for famed attorney Kenneth W. Ravenell is set to begin on federal charges of racketeering and money laundering for allegedly assisting a longtime client, convicted drug trafficker Richard Byrd. Justin Fenton/ Baltimore Sun

  • The Dec. 6 trial will shine a spotlight on a case that caused shockwaves when it was filed but has remained secretive during pretrial proceedings. Dozens of documents have been filed under seal, making it difficult for observers to follow the contours of the case. Madeleine O’Neill/ The Daily Record

CHECKING JONES FALLS SPEED NUMBERS: Drilling down on last week’s jaw-dropping statement to the Board of Estimates that a test speed camera had caught a vehicle zipping along the Jones Falls Expressway at 173 mph near the Pepsi sign resulted in finding “deleted data,” and showed most drivers actually drive close to the 50 mph speed limit, with the exception of high speed clusters indicating organized racing. The study was used to justify installation of six speed cameras. Mark Reutter/ Baltimore Brew

BAKER WOULD MOVE GOV OFFICES TO BALTIMORE: For hundreds of years — long before the United States was even a country — Annapolis has served as the capital of Maryland and workplace of Maryland’s political leaders. But if Rushern L. Baker III is elected governor, he said he’ll leave the city on the Severn for most of the year, decamping to Baltimore with his executive staff to better serve the needs of the state’s largest city. Pamela Wood/ The Baltimore Sun

BROWN ENDORSED BY HOYER: House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D) endorsed Rep. Anthony G. Brown’s bid for Maryland Attorney General on Thursday, citing his colleague’s civil rights work. Bruce DePuyt/ Maryland Matters

ANALYSIS: MCGRATH STRATEGY RISKS CROSS EXAMINATION CHALLENGES: Former Hogan chief of staff Roy McGrath has continued to speak publicly even though he faces serious charges of misappropriating government funds and misconduct in office. Legal analysts said McGrath’s public statements — and his apparent desire to litigate the past in the court of public opinion — risk undermining his attorney’s efforts to defend him in court. Bruce DePuyt/ Maryland Matters

LIGHTING UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS: A video shows the 79-foot-tall Norway Spruce from Cecil County, lit up for the first time in Rockefeller Center. The tree came from the yard of the Price family in Elkton. Guilia Hodge/ Cecil Whig

  • And a beloved Baltimore holiday tradition is back. The lighting of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon kicked off Thursday night with a spectacular show after a year of the pandemic without it. Amy Lu/ WBALTV

SPORTS WAGERING APPROVAL GRANTED: Maryland officials approved sports wagering licenses for two venues and five others are preparing to launch. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission on Thursday determined Riverboat on the Potomac and Long Shot’s have met the qualification requirements for sports wagering licenses. WBALTV STAFF

UNDERSTAFFING THREATENS DRINKING WATER: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan warning that the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) Water Supply Program (WSP) is dramatically understaffed – potentially risking the safety of Maryland’s drinking water and the health and welfare of Marylanders. OAG press release/Southern Maryland Chronicle

About The Author

Meg Tully

Contributing Editor Meg Tully has been covering Maryland politics for more than five years. She has worked for The Frederick News-Post, where she reported during the General Assembly session in Annapolis. She has also worked for The (Hanover) Evening Sun and interned at Baltimore Magazine. Meg has won awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association for her state and county writing, and a Keystone Press Award for feature writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you have additional questions or comments contact Meg at:

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