June 12, 2013

State Roundup, June 12, 2013

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REPUBLICANS SEEK JAIL PROBE: Senate Republicans on Tuesday echoed Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler’s call for an independent investigator into alleged corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. The Republicans expanded their request beyond an outside probe into which public employees should be held responsible for what prosecutors described as widespread collusion among female guards and members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang.

40 NEW & HIGHER TAXES: Gov. Martin O’Malley has approved 40 new and increased taxes and fees since he took office in 2007 that are projected to cost Marylanders $9.5 billion through fiscal 2014, writes Andy Brownfield for the Washington Examiner. “Nobody expected the total impact to be this staggering, not even me,” said Larry Hogan, founder of conservative group Change Maryland, which compiled a report on the increases.

STATESTAT PROBLEMS: In an analysis for MarylandReporter.com, IT specialist Charlie Hayward says that Gov. O’Malley’s StateStat program promises much, and delivers a lot of data. But weaknesses within the system makes it not as effective as promised.

AUDIT FAULTS STATE MILITARY DEPT: The Maryland Military Department, which oversees the state Army and Air National Guards among others, listed about $700,000 in federal revenues in fiscal 2012, even though its requests for those funds had been denied, reports Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette. A report released Monday by the Office of Legislative Audits found several instances of inadequate management of grants and insufficient oversight of expenditures and equipment.

ROCKY GAP CASINO TAKE: Rocky Gap Casino Resort made $776,133 in revenue from slots and table games during the 10 days it was open in May, with $648,366 coming from slots, Matthew Bieniek reports in the Cumberland Times-News.

HEALTH PLAN SPENDING: Last year, Maryland’s health plans collectively reported an 88.79 medical loss ratio, an insurance term for the percentage of revenue spent on its core functions, placing it 21st out of 51 ranked among the states and Washington, D.C., writes Ben Fischer for the Baltimore Business Journal.

NONPROFITS SEEK CUT IN RAIN TAX: As the Baltimore City Council works to finalize Baltimore City’s state-mandated stormwater fee program by July 1, anxious churches and other religious nonprofits have pressed for a special low rate in recognition of their contributions to the city. They point to Baltimore County, which has enacted a steep discount for nonprofits, reports Scott Calvert in the Sun.

STORMWATER FEE: Baltimore City must institute a stormwater fee — as required by state law — to pay for improvements to the system that handles runoff. This is critically important if Maryland is going to reduce the flow of pollutants, including fertilizer, pesticides, and sediment, that degrade our streams and harbor, writes Cheryl Casciani in an op-ed for the Sun.

BONGINO 95% CERTAIN: Republican Daniel Bongino, the former Secret Service agent who ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate last year, said Tuesday he is “95%” certain he will run in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District in the 2014 election and recently filed federal paperwork allowing him to raise money for that race, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

GARAGIOLA REPLACEMENT:David Moon of Maryland Juice is blogging that the District 15 political club is endorsing Del. Brian Feldman to replace state Sen. Rob Garagiola, who is stepping down. You’ll have to scroll down to Juice #3 to read the item.

KITTLEMAN LAUNCHES HO CO RUN: The race to lead Maryland’s most affluent county began Tuesday as state Sen. Allan Kittleman launched his bid to become just the second Republican to be elected Howard County executive, writes Arthur Hirsch in the Sun.

Sen. Kittleman described himself as an independent voice for Howard County residents as he officially announced his campaign for county executive Tuesday in front of more than 250 supporters, reports Blair Ames for the Howard County Times. There is video on top of the story.

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ZIRKIN BACKS KITTLEMAN: Baltimore County Democratic state Sen. Bobby Zirkin said he is crossing party lines to support Sen. Kittleman‘s run for Howard County executive, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

LEGGETT SEEKS 3RD TERM: David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs that several insiders began telling him yesterday that Montgomery County Exec Ike Leggett was preparing to announce that he is running for a third term. Moon links to tweets and a WTOP report.

Bill Turque of the Post quotes Leggett in an interview as saying, “Under very difficult circumstances, we achieved a great deal. But there are things we didn’t do as much of that I wanted to do.”

In a letter to supporters announcing his re-election bid, Leggett touted the closure of more than $2.7 billion in budget shortfalls over seven years and economic development projects such the Great Seneca Science Corridor, the White Oak Science Gateway and the White Flint area, which he said will help create 100,000 new jobs in the county, reports Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

CITY HOPES TO BAN FOAM CUPS: Fed up with foam cups floating in Baltimore City’s waterways, a City Council committee voted Tuesday to approve a ban on polystyrene foam products for carryout food and drink items within the city limits, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

LEOPOLD APPEAL SET:The Sun’s Andrea Siegel is reporting that an appeals court has chosen January to hear the challenge by former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold to his convictions for criminal misconduct in office.