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Md. lawmakers give Frosh power to sue federal government

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

ANNAPOLIS — Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has the green light to file lawsuits against the federal government in response to actions taken by President Donald Trump, but he says he won’t immediately run into a court.

The Maryland House of Delegates gave final approval to a Senate resolution granting the attorney general broad authority by a vote of 89-50. The Senate passed the same resolution last week that was first introduced less than two weeks earlier.

Despite the urgency placed on the measure by legislators, Frosh won’t be filing suit immediately.

“Not today,” Frosh told a reporter. “You can loaf. You can goof off.”

But  he added: “We are looking at the situation and will be on it.”

The attorney general said that his lack of immediate action doesn’t diminish the need to grant him authority to sue the federal government. “It allows us to respond and respond quickly,” Frosh said. “The first three weeks of his presidency have been chaotic.”

“It requires us to be ready to protect the citizens of Maryland,” he said.

Frosh noted that the legal landscape is fluid due to earlier challenges, such as the one from Washington state that led to the 9th Circuit’s decision upholding the stay on Trump’s proposed travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and a moratorium on refugees.

“The landscape has changed dramatically,” Frosh said.

Passage in the House, which fell along party lines, came days after a deeply divisive debate in the Senate. The resolution went into effect Tuesday afternoon after being signed by House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Gov. Larry Hogan cannot veto the measure.

The measure grants the attorney general wider authority to sue the federal government in reaction to Trump’s immigration executive order and concerns about a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to the passage of the resolution, the attorney general needed the permission of the governor or the General Assembly to sue the federal government. Legislators in the last week said they needed to act because Hogan had not responded to Frosh’s requests to step in on an executive order regarding immigration and foreign travel.

Amelia Chassé said the legislature is focusing more on D.C. politics than issues in Maryland.

“Today, certain legislators spent more than two hours speculating and philosophizing over what might or might not happen in Washington, D.C. – instead of focusing on Maryland and moving forward on the governor’s robust bipartisan legislative and budgetary proposals,” Chassé said. “Marylanders don’t want Washington-style party politics in their state capital, and if the past two weeks has taught us anything, we need a lot fewer talking heads in Annapolis and a lot more action.”

Reporter Steve Lash contributed to this story.

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