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Rep. Raskin: ‘This Is Banana Republic Territory’

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) thinks the Trump administration’s about-face at the Justice Department this week represents an “emergency.”President Trump assailed the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendations for his friend and longtime adviser, Roger Stone, just before the department reversed course and said it would seek a more lenient sentence.All four career prosecutors on the case withdrew in protest, and one quit his job.Trump “essentially overrode line prosecutors in a case,” Raskin told Maryland Matters this week in a brief interview on Capitol Hill.“He didn’t like the fact that his buddy Roger Stone was being recommended for seven to nine...

Business Groups Tout Poll Showing Opposition to Gas Tax Hikes to Fight Climate Change

Two organizations that represent small businesses in Maryland are warning about proposals that they argue could increase gasoline and energy bills.The Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association and the National Federation of Independent Business are armed with new poll numbers that show the public is skeptical of these proposals.The groups and their poll take aim at potential proposals to fight climate change that may emerge from legislation in Annapolis and from a regional consortium on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.Maryland is a participant in the Transportation & Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, a consortium of...

U.S. House Votes to Remove ERA Obstacle

The U.S. House voted on Thursday to remove one barrier to adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but plenty of legal and political obstacles remain.The House voted 232-183 on Thursday — largely along partisan lines — to approve a resolution that would remove an expired congressional deadline for the ratification of a constitutional amendment to ensure equality for U.S. citizens under the law, regardless of their sex.The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and was passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate in the 1970s. Lawmakers initially set a March 1979 ratification deadline for states, which...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Veteran journalist Elliot Jaspin, the author of our recent series, "Empty Plates at Maryland's Table," will be the guest on WYPR's "Midday" program, with host Tom Hall, Thursday at noon.Jaspin will be discussing the multi-part series, which addressed childhood hunger in Maryland.WYPR is at 88.1 on the FM dial in Baltimore. The program can be live-streamed can be livestreamed at wypr.org or listened to online later at https://www.wypr.org/programs/midday.Jaspin will continue to contribute occasional stories on hunger in Maryland to Maryland Matters. Click here to read the full series.

Engineering Dean to Become Next College Park President

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents have appointed Darryll J. Pines, longtime engineering dean at the University of Maryland College Park, as the campus’ next president.Pines’ appointment takes effect July 1. He replaces Wallace D. Loh, who announced he would retire in late 2018.The Regents’ decision was announced Wednesday evening.“The University of Maryland, College Park is a world-class institution, and Dr. Pines brings to the position a wealth of experience,” Regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden said in a statement. “He knows intimately the strengths of the faculty, the energy of the students, and the circle of legislative and...

National Lobbying Firm Establishes Md. Operation

Husch Blackwell Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, is setting up a government relations practice in Maryland, and Sarah Peters, a veteran of the Hogan administration, is the firm's first hire in the Free State.Peters, who most recently worked as a lobbyist with the Annapolis firm Bellamy-Genn Group LLC, is starting her new gig on Thursday. Maryland is the fifth state in the firm's government practice group, joining Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.Peters’ previous work in government includes serving as the legislative manager for the Maryland Transit Administration during Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.'s first term.“Sarah brings a deep...

At One Md. Hospital, Guideline Changes Lead to Decline in Opioid Overprescribing

As Maryland continues to battle the opioid epidemic, a medical system in the state said it is seeing positive results in its goal to stop the overprescribing of pain medications.Dr. Barry Meisenberg, chairman of the department of medicine at Anne Arundel Medical Center, said its progress is due in part to changing the way doctors approach pain management for patients.“We recognized three years ago when the public concern was at its height, that there’s a role for health systems to play in reducing the amount of prescribed opioids that are sloshing around our communities,” Meisenberg said.When it comes to...

Ex-White House Contender Marianne Williamson Backs Hoyer Foe in Dem Primary

Marianne Williamson, the author and New Age-y erstwhile candidate for president, has endorsed the longshot candidate seeking to oust U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer in the April 28 Democratic primary. In a tweet Monday evening, Williamson called Mckayla Wilkes' challenge to Hoyer "one of the most important congressional races in the country." Wilkes, she continued, "has a deeply inspiring story and she's just the kind of woman we need in Congress." Wilkes, a 29-year-old college student and former policy analyst at the Pentagon, is hoping to emulate freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who upset a powerful veteran lawmaker...

Ex-State Prosecutor Poised to Join Racing Commission

A state Senate committee gave its unanimous approval Monday for former state prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt to join the Maryland Racing Commission. Davitt, who stepped down as prosecutor late last year after almost a decade on the job, was nominated to serve on the commission by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). "Given some of the challenges of the racing commission, I'm pleased to have someone of his caliber being nominated," said state Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) during Davitt's confirmation hearing in the Senate Executive Nominations Committee. If approved by the full Senate, Davitt would join a commission that has been...

Sen. Washington Chalks Up First Endorsements of Mayoral Bid

State Sen. Mary L. Washington (D-Baltimore City) is rolling out the first round of endorsements for her mayoral campaign.The list includes colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly, City Council candidates, ministers, Baltimore community activists and small business owners.“Last session, I had the pleasure of working with Senator Washington in our successful effort to pass the Water Taxpayer Protection Act, ending the horrible practice where people lost their homes or places of worship because of water bills,” the Rev. Keith Bailey said in a statement. “Mary doesn’t just sit around and talk about getting things done. She fights for what’s right...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Maryland Matters Editor Josh Kurtz is going on Maryland Public Television's "State Circle" Friday at 7 p.m. He'll be joining other reporters in the House of Delegates chamber in the State House to discuss Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan's State of the State address, along with legislative and political developments.The program can be seen live on TV or at https://www.mpt.org/programs/state-circle-stream/. A rebroadcast is available at https://video.mpt.tv/show/state-circle/.

Health Care Workers Endorse in Baltimore City Races

The nation’s largest health care worker and property services unions, the Service Employees International (SEIU) Locals 1199 and 32BJ, issued endorsements in the Baltimore City elections Friday.In citywide races, SEIU has endorsed City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D) for mayor; City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed (D) to succeed Scott as Council president; and Councilman Bill Henry (D) for city comptroller.“As frontline healthcare workers, we are proud to endorse candidates who will fight for a healthy and equitable Baltimore City,” said Lisa Brown, Executive Vice President of the Maryland/DC Division of 1199SEIU. “With candidates like Brandon Scott, Shannon Sneed, and...

Hill, Higginbotham, Branch Exit Congressional Race

As he campaigns in the April 28 special general election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) will simultaneously have to wage a primary campaign for a full term against his two nearest competitors in this week's special Democratic primary.Former Maryland Democratic chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the late congressman's widow, and state Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) have decided to stay in the regular April 28 primary despite finishing well behind Mfume on Tuesday's special primary.Thursday was the last day for candidates who had been on the April congressional ballot...

U.S. House Passes Presidential Ethics Bill With Inspiration from Cummings

The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday to tighten ethics requirements for presidential transition team members that included provisions originally introduced by the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).The House passed the measure, S.394, the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act, by voice vote.If enacted, the bill would require ethics plans from future presidential transition teams that would outline, among other things, how the team would address participation by lobbyists and individuals working for foreign governments. The measure would require the ethics plans to be publicly available.A 2017 Government Accountability Office report about President Trump’s transition team required members to sign...

GOP Lawmaker: Public Safety Debate Has Been ‘Politicized’

The Maryland Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that would allow Baltimore City the authority to impose a residency requirement on top police officials.But the vote came over the vigorous objections of a Republican lawmaker who said the fight against crime has been “politicized.”Senate Bill 72, sponsored by Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City), would only affect six members of the force — four deputy commissioners and two colonels, he said.State lawmakers generally defer to the wishes of their colleagues on bills deemed “local.”But Sen. Robert Cassilly (R-Harford), an attorney and veteran who served in Iraq, said the legislature is...

Capital Gazette Widow, Health Care Advocates, GOP Mayor Among Md. Lawmakers’ SOTU Guests

President Trump will deliver the State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday night as an impeachment vote looms in the U.S. Senate later this week. Maryland lawmakers have invited health care advocates, an elected official from across the aisle and a gun safety activist to join them for the address.Here’s a quick look at who lawmakers have invited to the U.S. House chamber:Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) will bring Andrea Chamblee, a gun reform activist and the widow of John McNamara, who was killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis on June 28, 2018, along with...

Newly-Installed Delegate Drops Out of City Council Race

Del. Chanel A. Branch, a Democrat from East Baltimore’s 45th District, officially withdrew Monday as a candidate for City Council in the April 28 primary election, waiting till the Maryland State Board of Elections deadline to take herself out of the running.Branch, who turns 40 Thursday, was one of four candidates -- all Democrats -- who had filed for the District 2 City Council seat, including Councilwoman Danielle N. McCray, 35, who took the post June 11, 2019. The incumbent is sister of state Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City).The other two candidates for the 2nd District in the...

Report from Iowa: Md. State Senator at the Caucuses

Maryland Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D) was on the Democratic campaign trail in Iowa on Monday night ― even though her preferred candidate wasn’t part of the first-in-the-nation caucus contest.It was a return trip for Kagan, a Democrat representing Montgomery County in the state Senate.“I just wanted to feel the energy in the room, see who was present, watch the organizational skills and just get a sense of how those campaigns were looking,” said Kagan, who was registered as an official observer and has endorsed former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg for president. “It’s exciting. I’m a campaign junkie.”Since...

Md.’s Congressional Dems Get High Marks from Catholic Social Justice Group

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, a national organization that advocates for social and economic justice, has given high marks to Maryland's Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their votes on legislation in 2019.The group used 10 bills that passed the House last year to issue its report card. All of Maryland's Democratic House lawmakers received perfect scores except two: U.S. Reps. Anthony G. Brown and Jamie B. Raskin received 90% scores because they opposed the USMCA trade agreement.The late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), who died in October, voted with the network 100% of the...

Franchot Wades Into Baltimore City Council Primary

State Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) has endorsed a second Baltimore City Council candidate in the April 28 Democratic primary.Franchot on Sunday took to Facebook to announce that he's backing Natasha Guynes, a former sex worker who battled addiction and homelessness and now runs a nonprofit that serves young women at risk. She is running for the open Council seat in South Baltimore's 10th District, vying in the primary to replace Councilman Edward C. Reisinger (D), who is retiring after two dozen years on the job.While Franchot said there are "several quality candidates" in the Democratic primary, he called...