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Expansion of attorney general's power progresses in state Senate

Rachel Baye

An initiative to give the Maryland attorney general the freedom to challenge federal policy in court earned initial approval by a state Senate committee on Wednesday. The legislation, expected to come up for a vote in the full Senate Thursday, is driven by concern about the policies likely to come from President Donald Trump's new administration.

Maryland is one of nine states that don’t give their attorneys general the power to sue without buy-in from the governor or state legislature.

Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh said having that power is necessary because of the “blizzard” of “erratic and impulsive, and you might even say reckless” actions Trump has taken in his first weeks in office.

“Not only in the area of immigration, … but areas of environmental protection, protection of consumers, protecting public safety, economic security of workers, financial security,” Frosh said. “In each one of these areas we’ve heard threats or promises to take action that could be detrimental to our state.”

But Republican Sen. Andy Serafini, who represents Washington County, wanted to know why no one suggested this change when President Barack Obama signed broad-reaching executive orders.

He noted that any change will outlive the current presidential administration and should not be made as a reaction to a specific person.

“Can’t we pause for a second and say is this driven by emotion or are we really doing what’s best for our citizens?” he asked.

A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that the change may be unconstitutional.

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