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Senate passes expansion of Attorney General’s power

Joel McCord

The Maryland Senate adopted a measure Friday that would expand the state attorney general’s power to sue the federal government on an almost party line vote.

Three Democrats, James Brochin and Katherine Klausmeier of Baltimore County and James Mathias, of Worcester County, voted with all 14 Republicans against the measure. It allows the state attorney general to sue the federal government without getting approval of the governor or the General Assembly, as the law now requires.

So far, Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, has not given Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, that permission. The Senate resolution gives the attorney general that power, assuming the House passes the same version.

A House committee approved the resolution Friday.

Maryland is one of only nine states in the nation where the attorney general has to seek permission to sue the federal government.

Republicans complained the measure is overly broad, unconstitutional and aimed at Hogan.

“We have a popular governor, the way to take him down…is to federalize as many issues as possible and try to tie him to that and drag him into that” said Justin Ready, of Carroll County. “I don’t think that’s what we should be doing.”

Credit Joel McCord
State Sen. Ed Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore County)

Democrats insisted the measure was aimed not at Hogan, but at President Donald Trump and his controversial executive orders.

Douglas Peters, of Prince Georges County said the orders are an affront to his constituents, many of whom are federal employees.

“My folks are scared,” he said. “They’re terrified. They call and write to me and my staff... They’re worried.”

Mac Middleton, a Charles County Democrat, worried about the potential effect of Trump’s executive orders on the Chesapeake Bay clean-up and Maryland’s health care system.

“I don’t think we can wait around,” he said.

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