Mea­sure would give at­tor­ney gen­eral more power to sue

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY OVETTA WIG­GINS AND JOSH HICKS ovetta.wig­gins@wash­ josh.hicks@wash­

Af­ter a nearly two-hour de­bate, the Mary­land Se­nate ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion late last week that gives the at­tor­ney gen­eral author­ity to take le­gal ac­tion against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment with­out hav­ing to first get per­mis­sion from the gov­er­nor.

The mea­sure, which is on a leg­isla­tive fast track, now goes to the House. The Se­nate’s 29-to-17 vote came more than a week af­ter At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian E. Frosh (D) said he asked Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) but did not re­ceive clear­ance to move for­ward to sue the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Raquel Coombs, a spokes­woman for Frosh, said Fri­day that the at­tor­ney gen­eral sent a let­ter to the gov­er­nor Feb. 1 ask­ing for per­mis­sion to take le­gal ac­tion against Pres­i­dent Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial en­try ban but never re­ceived an an­swer.

“He has not said yea or nay,” Coombs said.

Dur­ing a me­dia event in Bal­ti­more on Fri­day, Ho­gan was asked about the res­o­lu­tion and whether he re­sponded to Frosh. He said the two had gone “back and forth” over the is­sue.

“He is an in­de­pen­dently elected con­sti­tu­tional of­fi­cer and he does what he wants to do, and now the leg­is­la­ture has given him more power,” Ho­gan said.

Se­nate Democrats moved the res­o­lu­tion quickly, to the cha­grin of Repub­li­cans, who said the was a par­ti­san at­tack against Ho­gan in an at­tempt to tie him to Trump.

But Democrats balked at the no­tion, say­ing 41 other at­tor­neys gen­eral can by­pass the gov­er­nor and leg­is­la­ture to sue the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Sen. Delores G. Kel­ley (D-Bal­ti­more County) said the state at­tor­ney gen­eral should be able to re­spond to the ac­tions be­ing taken by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on im­mi­gra­tion, health care, con­sumer pro­tec­tions and the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Time is of the essence,” she said. “So many threats and ac­tions are in fact im­pact­ing states’ rights.”

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who has ex­pressed his con­cerns about the fu­ture of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, told his Repub­li­can col­leagues that the res­o­lu­tion was “aimed at Capi­tol Hill” and had “ab­so­lutely noth­ing” to do with Ho­gan.

On Thurs­day, the ma­jor­ity of the Repub­li­can cau­cus walked out in protest af­ter try­ing un­suc­cess­fully to de­lay an ini­tial vote on the res­o­lu­tion.

In other busi­ness Fri­day, law­mak­ers in the House ap­proved a bill that would pro­hibit firearms on Mary­land’s pub­lic col­lege cam­puses. The leg­is­la­tion, which moves to the Se­nate for con­sid­er­a­tion, passed 84 to 49, with no Repub­li­cans sup­port­ing it and four Democrats vot­ing against it.

Ad­vo­cates say the bill would im­prove cam­pus safety, but Re­mea­sure pub­li­cans said it would strip in­di­vid­u­als of their con­sti­tu­tional right to bear arms and their abil­ity to pro­tect them­selves.

“This bill doesn’t cre­ate safe spa­ces. It cre­ates tar­get zones,” said Del. Robin L. Gram­mer Jr. (R-Bal­ti­more County).

Del. Pam Queen (D-Mont­gomery), an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Morgan State University, said guns on cam­pus could cause fear and sti­fle in­tel­lec­tual de­bate, po­ten­tially cause mi­nor al­ter­ca­tions to es­ca­late into deadly vi­o­lence, and cre­ate anx­i­ety among fac­ulty over post­ing grades.

“Col­lege cam­puses are a spe­cial place — a spe­cial place to fos­ter ed­u­ca­tion, to be de­void of phys­i­cal in­tim­i­da­tion, to have a right to an ed­u­ca­tion in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, to have an ex­change of ideas from var­i­ous peo­ple,” she said.

Repub­li­cans failed to win sup­port for sev­eral amend­ments to the bill, in­clud­ing lan­guage that would have re­quired col­leges to arm their se­cu­rity forces and pro­vided an ex­emp­tion for cases in which state po­lice have de­ter­mined that an in­di­vid­ual’s life is in dan­ger.

The bill would re­quire col­leges to no­tify the pub­lic of the firearm ban with signs posted in prom­i­nent lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing at cam­pus en­trances.

The House passed sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion last year, but the Se­nate never voted on it.

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