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maryland lawmakers give ag blanket authority to sue trump administration

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maryland lawmakers give ag blanket authority to sue trump administration

maryland’s general assembly on wednesday approved a blanket authorization for state attorney general brian e. frosh to sue the federal government, illustrating the eagerness of democratic legislative leaders to challenge the trump administration over undocumented immigrants, refugees, health care and other issues.

the proposal passed quickly through the legislature over the past two weeks on party-line votes that exposed an increasingly bitter partisan divide in annapolis.

it will take effect without the signature of gov. larry hogan (r).

democrats fast-tracked the measure after president trump issued executive orders to lay the groundwork to cut off federal funding to jurisdictions that do not comply with requests to detain undocumented immigrants, and to ban citizens from seven muslim-majority countries and refugees from entering the united states.

the legislation received final approval in the house on wednesday by a vote of 89 to 50, with all republicans in the chamber voting against it. it passed a similarly divided senate last week, after republicans attempted to delay the vote and then stormed out in protest when that request was denied.

maryland attorney general brian e. frosh (d). (jonathan newton/the washington post)

the joint resolution is one in a series of democratic measures in response to trump administration policies, including a bill that would set aside $3 million in the state budget for frosh to protect marylanders from “harmful” federal efforts.

another measure, the trust act, would prohibit police and sheriff’s departments from complying with federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants; bar local authorities from arresting people for immigration purposes; and try to limit federal immigration officials’ authority to remove people from schools, hospitals or courthouses.

republicans argued that the resolution authorizing frosh to sue was a politically motivated attempt to undermine the trump administration and would give the attorney general virtually unchecked powers.

under current law, the attorney general must seek a green light from either the legislature or the governor to take action against the federal government.

legislative analysts said attorneys general in most other states can take legal action to protect the public interest as they see fit, but the role is more restrictive in maryland, where the governor and legislature have broad discretion over which cases to pursue.

frosh asked hogan two weeks ago for permission to sue the trump administration over its travel ban, which federal courts elsewhere in the country have since halted.

the attorney general’s office has said the governor never responded to that request.

on tuesday, del. robert l. flanagan (r-howard) offered an amendment to the proposal that would have barred the attorney general from taking legal actions against the federal government without approval from the governor or the legislature’s policy committee, which consists of leading lawmakers from the house and the senate.

democrats rejected the amendment, saying it would gut the resolution.