State Roundup, October 2, 2017

ARMY CORPS AID IN DISASTER PLANS: Amid the most active hurricane season in more than a decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is developing a plan to help Maryland officials better know where and when to order evacuations ahead of  a tropical cyclone, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. Officials have mapped the potential storm surge for cyclones as strong as Category 4 — they don’t believe it’s possible for a Category 5 storm to hit Maryland — and will work with local officials to map out evacuation zones. Then officials will analyze transportation systems to determine how long it would take for residents to clear out.

EXPANDING RX POT INDUSTRY: Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus expects the General Assembly to swiftly pass a bill expanding the medical marijuana growing industry to include African-American firms, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. And some members suggested the powerful voting bloc should “take a knee” if the legislation is not on the governor’s desk by the end of January.

PRICE GOUGING LAW: Opponents of a new law allowing Maryland to challenge generic drug price-gouging lost the first round of a legal battle Friday as a federal judgerefused to block the measure, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

NEW LAWS INCLUDE BAN ON FRACKING: Maryland on Sunday became the third U.S. state to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing, ending several years of debate over whether to allow the gas-extraction method. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that passage of the fracking ban was one of the surprises of the 2017 legislative session in Annapolis, coming after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that he had changed his position on the bill and would support it. It is one of several high-profile laws that took effect in Maryland on Oct. 1.

RAISING CAMPAIGN CASH: Maryland candidates have begun to hustle for dollars ahead of next year’s election, freed from a key obstacle that once hindered their ability to raise cash, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. The 2018 election cycle, which includes races for governor, attorney general, General Assembly and several county executives, is the first full cycle since a Supreme Court ruling lifted the cap on the total amount donors may contribute to candidates.