State Roundup, March 19, 2019


HOGAN BLASTS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday blasted lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, accusing them of spending recklessly and siding with violent criminals, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report. The Republican governor condemned the Assembly for killing a bill that would have allowed Baltimore school police officers to carry guns inside school buildings. He also took issue with some legislators who have argued against mandatory sentences for violent criminals and spending more on policing.

PUSH RESIGNS UMMS, FURTHER REMEDIES SOUGHT: Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Monday from the University of Maryland Medical System’s board of directors amid intense scrutiny over the system’s contracting practices — and as Baltimore school officials acknowledged that 8,700 copies of children’s books the medical system purchased from her are sitting unread in a warehouse, Luke Broadwater and Doug Donovan. Senate President Mike Miller said Monday he expected other board members to resign in addition to Pugh. He said he also expected there to be an audit of contracting practices.

PUGH’s LONG, LUCRATIVE TIES TO UMMS: Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew tracks the long relationship between UMMS and Pugh, writing that Pugh’s financial and political ties with UMMS go much deeper than the book payments. During the 2016 election, high-level representatives of UMMS – a private corporation that operates the University of Maryland Medical Center and Midtown campus in Baltimore – went to considerable lengths to pave the way for Pugh’s success as a mayoral candidate. Most notably, three directors of UMMS lent Pugh $200,000 just days before the April 26, 2016 Democratic primary.

ABOLISHING HANDGUN PERMIT REVIEW BOARD: The Maryland Senate is advancing a bill that would abolish the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board, which some critics say is too permissive in overturning denials of permits to carry handguns. A key committee on Monday night approved the bill, the first step before the measure can become law, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

BOOSTING CRAFT BREWERS: Maryland lawmakers have moved closer to a compromise bill that boosts the state’s craft brewing industry. Small brewers – those who produce 20,000 barrels of beer or less each year – currently must give 180 days’ notice and show good cause to end agreements with wholesalers. The bills would shorten that length to 45 days and get rid of the “good cause” requirement. Brewers will also be allowed to self-distribute more of their own beer, Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters.

CITY DELEGATES HOPE TO KILL LAUREL BILL: Fearing the loss of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore’s state Senate delegation is asking the Budget and Taxation Committee to kill a bill that would provide funding for a “super track” at Laurel Park, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

CROSSOVER PUSH: Brian Witte of the AP writes that as the General Assembly reached a milestone in its 90-day legislative session, lawmakers worked late Monday, the day known as crossover. That’s a procedural deadline for a bill to pass either the House or the Senate to have a chance of clearing both chambers and making it to the governor’s desk. It’s not a deadline that’s written in stone, but lawmakers generally aim to have legislation they intend to pass clear one of the chambers by the end of the crossover day.

HOUSE LIFTS STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday approved a bill removing the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits arising from child sexual abuse. The House passed the bill by a bipartisan vote of 136-2 without debate, sending it to the state Senate for consideration, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.

COLUMN: DEL. WILSON’s JOURNEY: Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes about Del. C.T. Wilson, who because of his own sexual abuse at the hands of his father when he was a child, has been a staunch advocate for victims in the legislature. He tells his own story and it never gets easier. The trauma remains. But he has been pushing for legislation to end the statute of limitations for childhood victims to sue their perpetrators. It likely won’t pass the Senate.

AGE FOR TOBACCO PURCHASES: Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates on Monday approved different versions of a measure to raise the age for buying tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. The Senate included an exception in its bill intended for members of the military. Individuals 18 to 20 could still purchase tobacco products if they show a military identification, under the Senate version.

LONG GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS: The Maryland House of Delegates gave final approval Monday to bills that would ban 3D printed guns and require background checks for all sales of long guns, such as shotguns and rifles. The bills are among the priorities of gun-control advocates, but just as strongly opposed by gun-rights supporters, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun write.

LEAD IN SCHOOL FOUNTAINS: The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday unanimously passed legislation that would toughen restrictions on the amount of lead permitted in the water of school drinking fountains and fund remediation efforts, writes the Sun’s Luke Broadwater.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Human trafficking moved one step closer to officially being recognized as a “crime of violence” in Maryland. On Friday, the House of Delegates fell quiet as the electric board used to tally votes lit up with a wave of green “yes” votes, then broke into applause as a bill put in by freshman Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) passed unanimously, 136-0, Samantha Hogan of the Frederick News-Post reports.

DRONES HELP ENVIRONMENTALISTS: Riverkeepers, researchers and volunteer monitors have long kept an eye on water quality from the ground and from the river. But, with the help of technology that’s suddenly far more accessible, they’re taking to the skies, too. Whitney Pipkin of the Bay Journal reports in the MarylandReporter that unmanned aerial vehicles, also called UAVs or drones, have recently become so affordable and easy to fly that they are winding up in the hands of more environmentalists.

BA CO VOTERS TO DECIDE ON PUBLIC FINANCING: Baltimore County voters will decide next year whether to give local candidates the option of public campaign financing, under legislation approved Monday by the County Council, Alison Knezevich reports in the Sun.

RX POT IN ARUNDEL: The Anne Arundel County Council continued debate Monday on medical marijuana legislation with new amendments modifying the bill and pushing back a final vote for another two weeks. Bill 7-19 would loosen medical marijuana restrictions, making it easier for incoming dispensaries to build within the county, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital.

TRUMP SEEKS TO STOP MD EMOLUMENTS CASE: President Donald Trump’s attorneys are asking a federal appeals court Tuesday to prevent Maryland from proceeding with a lawsuit alleging Trump is illegally profiting from his presidency, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun. Maryland argues in the suit that the president is violating a constitutional prohibition by doing business with foreign and state governments that patronize the luxury Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington.

ON HARRY HUGHES: Former Baltimore Sun reporter John W. Frece, who co-wrote Harry Roe Hughes’s 2006 autobiography, “My Unexpected Journey,” writes a remembrance of Hughes in the Post, saying that “It’s sad to say, but we may never again see a political leader as honest and decent as Harry R. Hughes … Maybe that is because Hughes never planned to be in politics. Growing up in the sleepy Eastern Shore farming community of Denton, the tall, athletic Hughes wanted to be a professional baseball player. But World War II intervened.”



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