July 19, 2013

State Roundup, July 19, 2013

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INCONSISTENT GAMBLING LAWS: The staff of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency laid out the issue of inconsistent and confusing local laws Thursday at the first meeting of a new General Assembly committee charged with oversight of gambling in Maryland. The hodgepodge of regulations enshrined in Title 13 of Maryland’s criminal code governing local gambling operations range from tip jars in Western Maryland to slot machines at Eastern Shore veterans’ halls to commercial bingo in Calvert County, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

SLOTS FOR ROCKY GAP: When two of Maryland’s casinos were ready to give up slot machines, they wanted to give up their worst-performing machines. But because some slot machines were going to fill Rocky Gap Casino Resort, state regulators wanted to ensure that the state’s newest casino didn’t wind up with more than 500 lemons, writes Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

UNDERFUNDED CHILD CARE PROGRAM: Maryland’s Child Care Subsidy program, which gives poor families vouchers for care so parents can work or go to school, is so underfunded that it hasn’t met federal rate guidelines in a decade and still uses income eligibility criteria from 2001, reports Tricia Bishop for the Sun.

SCIENCE STANDARDS: Last month, Maryland became the fourth state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, combining teaching scientific practice with the basic concepts of engineering, technology, and life, physical, earth and space sciences, Rachel Kara reports for the Frederick News Post.

TEACH-TEST DISCONNECT: Renee Foose, superintendent of the Howard County school system, writes in an op-ed for the Sun that the release of the Maryland School Assessment results — anticipated early next week — will surely send a ripple of shock to parents across the state. Educators are bracing for dips in math performance. At first glance, the scores will appear to indicate that student achievement has fallen, when in fact they reflect a mismatch between what is taught and what is tested.

CITY SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: The $1.2 billion approved by the Maryland General Assembly for city school construction is a historic opportunity for transformation in Baltimore City. But if, after 10 years, the outcome is just new schools, we will have missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to affect not only schools but entire neighborhoods, opines architect Davin Hong in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun.

MORE JOBS: The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Maryland gained 4,300 jobs in June, while the private sector gained an impressive 6,200 jobs. This is the highest June private-sector job level since 2008, according to a story at WBFF-TV.

MAKE GOVERNMENT WORK: Rep. John Delaney joined about 70 other congressmen in 96-degree heat at the Capitol Thursday  to showcase their membership in a bi-partisan group that is working to “make Congress work” and to “make government work,” unveiling nine bills to help do that, reports Chris Goins for MarylandReporter.com.

YOUNG’S POLITICAL FUTURE: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post writes that Blaine Young’s campaign sent about 35,000 letters to Republican households, most of them in Frederick County asking them to weigh in on his future. Should he (a) run for governor, (b) run for county executive or (c) retire from public office?

NON-PARTISAN, NO NEGATIVITY: Daniel Bongino said he doesn’t view voters as Democrats or Republicans and he will refuse to talk negatively about any opponents as he strives to be the next U.S. congressman representing Maryland’s District 6, writes Michael Sawyers for the Cumberland Times-News.

RURAL LOBBYING: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that Carroll County plans to continue financially supporting a coalition that fights for issues affecting rural counties at the Maryland General Assembly. The Carroll County Board of Commissioners agreed but did not vote to give money to the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition Thursday.

Comptroller Peter Franchot honored Robert Swann, who served as interim comptroller after the death in 1998 of Louis Goldstein, who had been in the post for 39. At Thursday's ceremony hanging a portrait of Swann in the Treasury Building's assembly room were, from right, Franchot, Margaret Goldstein Janney (Goldstein's daughter), Robert Swann, Louisa Goldstein (another daughter) and Bill Janney.

Comptroller Peter Franchot honored Robert Swann, who served as interim comptroller after the death in 1998 of Louis Goldstein, who had been in the post for 39 years. At Thursday’s ceremony hanging a portrait photo of Swann in the Treasury Building’s assembly room were, from right, Franchot, Margaret Goldstein Janney (Goldstein’s daughter), Robert Swann, Louisa Goldstein (another daughter) and Bill Janney.

LEOPOLD ENVELOPE: Steven Conn of Annapolis was miffed when he saw the envelope from the Anne Arundel County Office of Finance’s billing and customer service department. The name on the bill: former County Executive John Leopold, writes Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette. Was current County Executive Laura Neuman trying not to waste perfectly good envelopes? If so, Conn isn’t sold.

SHUH RECOMMENDS: State Del. Steve Schuh sent a letter to Anne Arundel County school board President Teresa Milio Birge with recommended qualifications for a long-term replacement for outgoing schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell. Birge, however, said the advice from the second-term delegate and county executive candidate is premature, reports Tim Pratt for the Capital-Gazette.

NEUMAN FOR GOVERNOR: Gazette columnist Blair Lee continues his one-man campaign to boost Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman as a Republican candidate for governor. “Neuman wants to continue by running for a full term next year,” says Lee. “True, it’s a safer option than running for governor. But history is littered with failed politicians whom time passed by as they ‘waited their turn.’ “