June 10, 2013

State Roundup, June 10, 2013

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NO HERO IN JAIL SCANDAL: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is sticking to its story that it deserves acclaim for helping the FBI crack down this spring on brazen abuses at the Baltimore jail. But, writes columnist Robert McCartney for the Post, a high-level legislative briefing on the scandal in Annapolis on Thursday undercut that self-serving argument.

WHEN DID HE KNOW: Gov. O’Malley has told legislative leaders that had he known the unsealing of a federal indictment detailing widespread corruption in a Baltimore jail would happen while he was out of the country, he may have delayed the long-planned trip. But, reports Aaron Davis in the Post, e-mails released Thursday show that his top corrections official had been told the day before the governor took off for Israel.

SHIFTING RESPONSIBILITY: Gary Maynard, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said Thursday he would be open to discussing the possibility of shifting the Baltimore City Detention Center’s management from the state corrections department to an independent body, according to an AP report in the Capital-Gazette.

BALLOT INITIATIVES: The AP’s Brian Witte reports in the Salisbury Daily Times that Maryland political scientists say the recently failed petition drives show that despite the help of the Internet, it’s still a challenging threshold to get enough signatures to put a law on the ballot.

GUN DEALERS FRUSTRATED: When Scott Schulte stopped at Pasadena Pawn and Gun last week to pick up his fifth firearm of the year, the Maryland State Police still hadn’t finished his background check. The store let him take the pistol anyway. An unprecedented surge of applications to purchase guns has overwhelmed Maryland’s system for checking out the buyers. Dealers are required to wait seven days before releasing a firearm — which in the past has been enough time for the state police to complete the background check, the Sun’s Erin Cox is reporting.

HOSPITAL BILLS: Jennifer Allard of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that the commission that decides what money Maryland hospitals will receive for services rendered got a six-month 1.65% boost Wednesday from last year’s 0.3%, but it is hardly enough, hospitals say, to keep their budgets going.

HEALTH INSURANCE: The mold has been set for how Carroll County will implement the Maryland Health Connection — a one-stop shop for individuals and small businesses to compare rates and sign up for a health insurance plan, reports Rachel Roubein for the Carroll County Times.

SPAY/NEUTER FUND: Heather Mongilio of the Carroll County Times reports that the first-of-its kind fund will be established in Maryland this fall to help reduce the number of stray animals in the state by helping low-income families get money to have pets spayed or neutered. Senate Bill 820, signed into law by Gov. O’Malley last month, creates a state spay/neuter fund to be administered by the Department of Agriculture. It goes into effect Oct. 1.

FARM CERTAINTY: You might think that environmental concerns would be thrilled that an incentive is being offered to entice farmers to clean up their acts immediately. And the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is. But it stands alone among its environmentalist peers, opine the editors at the Salisbury Daily Times.

POT ARRESTS & RACE: The Sun editorial board writes that the good news, such as it is, from the American Civil Liberties Union’s report on racial bias in marijuana enforcement is that blacks in Maryland are only about 2.9 times more likely to be arrested for possession of the drug than whites. That’s actually somewhat better than the national average. The bad news: Maryland was No. 3 among the states in per-capita arrests for marijuana possession in 2010, the last year for which data are available

MOVES TO PAROLE POST: Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Frank Weathersbee, who has been in that job for 25 years, is leaving to take a more low-key position with state parole commission, an appointment he sought, and won, from Gov. O’Malley, Andrea Siegel writes in the Sun.

CBF banner ad 2GEORGE ON THE STUMP: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron George stopped in at the Cumberland Time-News Friday, telling reporter Michael Sawyers: We have to stop governing on a one-size-fits-all basis. Baltimore City is not like Allegany County, whether talking schools or crime. Residents of Cumberland shouldn’t be paying a gas tax to improve the Red Line and Purple Line.”

GANSLER HIRES CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who has held off on officially announcing his 2014 bid for governor, said Friday that he has hired a campaign manager, reports John Wagner of the Post. Carrie Glenn, a veteran Democratic strategist who recently worked in Montana and Kentucky, will lead Gansler’s efforts.

Democrats have been awaiting Gansler’s next move in the primary race to succeed Gov. O’Malley, who is term-limited, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.

KITTLEMAN TO RUN FOR HO CO EXEC: State Sen. Allan Kittleman, a former Senate Republican leader, plans to announce a 2014 bid for Howard County executive on Tuesday, writes John Wagner in the Post. Two Republican members of the Maryland Senate will announce their plans over the next few days to leave the legislature and run for the top executive positions in their home counties.

GLASSMAN TO SEEK HARFORD SEAT: The Sun’s Michael Dresser reports that state Sen. Barry Glassman was to announce his bid for Harford County executive Saturday in Havre de Grace.

GARAGIOLA’S SEAT: With Sen. Rob Garagiola stepping away from his Maryland seat, all sorts of jockeying has begun to take place. David Moon of Maryland Juice give us a taste.

SHORT ON ELECTIONS JUDGES: Just weeks away from the application deadline, Annapolis city officials said they are short 65 volunteers to serve as election judges this year. The city needs to fill all the openings by June 21 so the volunteers can be trained, Elisha Sauers reports for the Capital-Gazette.