State Roundup: Hate Crimes Task Force becomes permanent; new laws seek to shield abortion providers, patients; PSC downgraded after Moore remake

State Roundup: Hate Crimes Task Force becomes permanent; new laws seek to shield abortion providers, patients; PSC downgraded after Moore remake file photo.

HATE CRIMES TASK FORCE BECOMES PERMANENT UNDER NEW LAW: With a Maryland hate crimes task force funded by a federal grant set to expire next year, legislation to make it a permanent group goes into effect Thursday. The task force, now called the Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention, will continue to be managed by the state attorney general’s office. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

LAWS IN PLACE TO OFFER SAFE HAVEN FOR ABORTION SEEKERS: Two new laws go into effect Thursday in Maryland the General Assembly passed in response to the end of Roe v. Wade. Both are intended to make Maryland a safe haven for those seeking abortions. Judges in other states cannot compel testimony from providers of abortion and related healthcare in Maryland about their patients, and those providers are now shielded from disciplinary or adverse action from regulators and insurers. And another law insures the confidentiality of patient data for abortion and related healthcare. Matt Bush/WYPR-FM.

MOORE REMAKES PSC; RATINGS AGENCY DOWNGRADES IT: When Gov. Wes Moore (D) took office, he vowed to shake up the Maryland Public Service Commission, a powerful but obscure agency that regulates gas and electric utilities. Critics in recent years have complained that the PSC hasn’t been proactive enough when it comes to the state’s strategy for fighting climate change. But the transition at the PSC has prompted a national ratings agency for energy and utility investors to downgrade its assessment of Maryland’s regulatory framework. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

Fresh dredged oysters. Photo from Chesapeake Bay Program

CONSUMER GUIDE CRITICIZED FOR WARNING ABOUT BAY OYSTERS: The Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population is still a long way from what it once was, but lately it’s shown signs of a rebound. Maryland and Virginia watermen harvested more of the bivalves in the most recent season than they had in more than three decades. So why is Seafood Watch, a widely consulted guide to sustainable seafood, recommending that people avoid eating wild-caught oysters from the Bay? The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which produces Seafood Watch, isn’t saying. Timothy Wheeler of Bay Journal/Maryland Reporter.

FREDERICK SHERIFF RESPONDS TO INDICTMENT: In his first response to being indicted by a federal grand jury, Frederick County Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Jenkins denied having “any financial incentive or fraudulent intent” when he helped a gun dealer obtain machine guns to rent out to the public. “Sheriff Jenkins’ entire role in this alleged conspiracy, was to sign the letters put before him,” his attorneys wrote in a new court filing. Justin Fenton/The Baltimore Banner.

MIA: PA AGENCY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BLACK-OWNED FIRM: Pennsylvania-based Erie Insurance discriminated against a Black-owned insurance brokerage from Baltimore and ultimately against all Black city residents, according to a recent opinion by the Maryland Insurance Administration. John-John Williams/The Baltimore Banner.

CHARGES AGAINST DELEGATE DOWNGRADED TO MISDEMEANORS: Charges related to a family incident involving a freshman delegate who is alleged to have threatened a relative have been downgraded. Del. Jeffrie E. Long Jr. (D-Calvert and Prince George’s) now faces second-degree assault and fourth-degree burglary charges stemming from an April 4 incident. Both charges are misdemeanors. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

FBI SURVEILLANCE PLANE FLYING OVER BALTIMORE: An Cessna airplane, with its transponder turned off, has been flying above West Baltimore for weeks now. It took a while to figure out that the plane was actually owned by the FBI and is likely conducting surveillance. Brenna Smith/The Baltimore Banner.

B’MORE HOPES TO RESTART RECYCLABLE COLLECTION: Baltimore officials doubled down Wednesday on their commitment to restart the city’s weekly recycling collection in early 2024, but warned that the move will be possible only if the city receives 30 new garbage trucks that are currently in production. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.

  • The Department of Public Works’ scaled-back recycling service has been a subject of persistent frustration for some City Council members since the start of the pandemic, so much so that the council held officials in their chambers for six hours during the agency’s budget hearing a year ago to push for reinstating pick-up on a weekly basis. Adam Willis/The Baltimore Banner.

23 CHURCHES SEEK TO BREAK FROM METHODISTS OVER LGBTQ+ RIGHTS: Twenty-three houses of worship in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church — a jurisdiction that includes 603 churches in Washington, in most of Maryland and in the panhandle of West Virginia — have applied for disaffiliation, or official separation, from the worldwide church over what they see as progressive LGBTQ+ issues. Jonathan Pitts/The Baltimore Sun.

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO $1.2M IN COVID RELIEF FUNDS FRAUD: A former social media influencer from Rockville pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering stemming from a scheme to falsely secure over $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief loans. Em Espey/MoCo 360.

CEO OF BALTIMORE BANNER TO JOIN GANNETT: Imtiaz Patel, the chief executive officer of The Baltimore Banner, will step down on July 7 to join the senior leadership of Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, he announced in a memo to staff Wednesday morning. Liz Bowie/The Baltimore Banner.

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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