State Roundup, September 12, 2017

HOGAN REVERSES ON METRO FUNDING: Gov. Larry Hogan upended the regional debate over Metro funding Monday by offering to give the transit system an extra $500 million over four years if Virginia, the District and the federal government each do the same, reports Robert McCartney and Faiz Siddiqui for the Post. Hogan’s proposal narrowed the jurisdictions’ differences over funding and appeared to increase chances that the region could agree on a plan to save the agency. But it remained to be seen whether the other three parties — especially the federal government and Virginia — would go along.

  • Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Hogan said that a four-way commitment to provide $125 million from each jurisdiction over four years would satisfy the needs of the system, as outlined by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.“There is absolutely no separation between us on how critical Metro is and that action needs to be taken to guarantee its short-term and long-term future,” Hogan wrote. “However, there is very clear separation between us on how we collectively meet this $500 million funding challenge.”
  • Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf reports that Hogan had dismissed the regional sales tax proposal, floated by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other D.C. officials, that’s designed to provide a dedicated funding source for Metro. The proposal to increase local sales taxes by 1 cent would place a greater share of the tax burden on the more populous jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and Maryland than the District would have.

FROSH SUES OVER DACA: Maryland has joined three other states in suing the Trump administration over its termination of a program designed to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said Monday. Frosh, a Democrat, joined the attorneys general of California, Minnesota and Maine to challenge the decision by President Trump in federal court in California, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

O.C. BIZ WORRY OVER VISA PROGRAM CANCELLATION: As the summer tourism season comes to a close in Ocean City, many businesses fear they may soon lose much of their seasonal workforce if the Trump administration cancels the J-1 visa program, writes CNS’s Chris Miller in MarylandReporter. “We wouldn’t be able to function and would probably have to shut down at least half of the hotel,” if the J-1 program is cut, said Greg Dominguez, front office manager at the Grand Hotel and Spa. The hotel employs about 100 J-1 students each summer.

EPA FUNDING BILL STRIPS ITS ENFORCEMENT: A bill to fund the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal programs from December through September 2018 would strip the agency of its power to enforce a Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, under a provision approved in the House of Representatives, Scott Dance and John Fritze report for the Sun. Kim Coble, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said “only EPA has the ability to enforce the agreement in the event that a state fails to meet its commitments.”

SENATE HEARING ON B’MORE VIOLENCE: Michael Dresser and Erin Cox of the Sun report that state lawmakers are holding a marathon hearing today on Baltimore’s gun violence, the launch of what could be a months-long debate on how the General Assembly could help. Baltimore’s per-capita homicide rate is on pace to break records for the third year in a row. In response, state senators have scheduled hours of testimony and will hear from Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Police Chief Kevin Davis, schools CEO Sonja Santelises, health officials, state law enforcement, child advocates, public defenders, religious leaders and nearly two dozen others. The public is also invited to attend and offer ideas.

  • The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing will allow Baltimore officials and community leaders to discuss root causes and options, though no legislation has been proposed. Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, who chairs the committee, said he wants to avoid having a bill hearing with no bill but will encourage looking at data and the complexity of the issues. Hogan has said he will announce a criminal justice package before the 2018 legislative session that will feature a truth-in-sentencing proposal to address concerns about violent offenders, often using guns, who do not spend a significant amount of time behind bars, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.

B’MORE OKs WEAKER GUN BILL: Without discussion, the Baltimore City Council on Monday narrowly passed weakened legislation originally designed to impose a mandatory one-year jail sentence on people who illegally carry guns, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. The legislation passed by an 8-7 vote. The legislation had become the subject of heated debate in a year when Baltimore faces a surging homicide rate.

WINNING REDS IN BLUE STATES: As he touts his bipartisan credentials, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has signed a fundraising appeal for the Republican Governors Association that implores readers to support the RGA to ensure that Republicans keep winning “in blue states like Maryland.” Last week’s email solicitation comes as Hogan has at least a dozen fundraising events of his own scheduled for the fall – as well as appearances on tap at a handful of other fundraising events that will indirectly benefit his campaign, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

BLUE MOON STATES: We are at a once-in-a-blue-moon political moment when three of the most reliably Democratic states in the union—Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont—are led by Republican governors. The last time all three of these blue states chose Republican executives at the same time was 2002, when Mitt Romney was elected in Massachusetts, Bob Ehrlich in Maryland, and Jim Douglas in Vermont. Now you find Republican governors Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Larry Hogan in Maryland, and Phil Scott in Vermont—with Baker and Hogan consistently ranked as the two most popular governors in America, and Scott in the top 10, Dave Denison writes in Maryland Matters..

REP. BROWN TOUTS PG DEVELOPMENT: In a commentary for Maryland Matters, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown writes about the development of a new, modern headquarters facility for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Camp Springs and the 3,700 well-paying jobs it will bring. USCIS, he writes, will be an economic catalyst for the surrounding community by providing critical daytime foot traffic and business activity. The USCIS headquarters project is South Prince George’s County’s best opportunity to spur transformative development after years of stagnation and unfulfilled promises, Brown says.

SEN. CONWAY’s LAST CAMPAIGN: Sen. Joan Carter Conway is running for re-election in 2018 but is vowing that the coming campaign will be her last, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Conway, the six-term Baltimore Democrat and chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, will face a primary challenge from Del. Mary Washington, who formerly was a member of the district ticket led by the incumbent senator.

MO CO CANDIDATES LIST: Here’s the updated list of candidates for state, county and federal offices from Montgomery County, only in MarylandReporter.com.

Actor Boyd Gaines as Chief Justice Roger Taney.

CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY SPEAKS: F.S. Key After the Songpremieres Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night on Maryland Public Television at 10 p.m. It continues the story of Francis Scott Key’s life and times after his 1814 writing of the song that would become the national anthem. The three-part series takes a fresh approach to a long-overlooked period in U.S. history and provides a window into antebellum society and the attitudes and behavior on slavery that led to the Civil War. It includes “interviews” by filmmaker Philip Marshall with historical figures, including Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Francis Scott Key’s brother-in-law. A preview of F.S.Key After the Song is at http://bit.ly/2xaE7Un.

NEW McDONOUGH RADIO ADS: Del. Pat McDonough has begun airing what may the first radio ads in the campaign for Baltimore County executive. The ad returns to a familiar McDonough theme — opposition to illegal immigration — with McDonough promising to eliminate “Sanctuary” policies that have led to an influx of “Mexican heroin.” The radio ads are running on WCBM-AM.

VOTE ON NON-CITIZENS VOTING: The city council and mayor of College Park are expected to decide today whether to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, following a heated discussion among residents over the summer about the issue, writes Rachel Chason for the Post. The majority of residents who have submitted comments in the Washington suburb, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, support the amendment to allow green-card holders, undocumented immigrants and student-visa holders to vote in local elections, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.

UB STUDENTS PROTEST DeVOS INVITE: University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke defended his decision to invite U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak at the school’s fall commencement, even as dozens of students protested Mondayand thousands signed a petition demanding he rescind the offer, reports Talia Richman for the Sun.

SCHMOKE’s DeVOS CONNECTION: Fern Shen and Louis Krauss of Baltimore Brew are reporting that UB President Kurt Schmoke has a family connection to the Trump-era Education Department: His cousin Julian Schmoke Jr. was recently selected to lead the Department’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit. Schmoke confirmed that Julian Schmoke, a former dean of the for-profit DeVry University, is his first cousin.But Schmoke said he did not know his cousin was taking a job with the U.S. Education Department when he wrote to Secretary Betsy DeVos in January to invite her to speak at the UB’s fall commencement. Meanwhile DeVry recently settled several claims brought against it by regulators alleging it had engaged in some of the same abuses Schmoke’s unit is charged with eliminating.

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