July 30, 2013

State Roundup, July 30, 2013

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STORMWATER WORK: In an op-ed in the Sun, Jeff Fraley of the South Baltimore Business Alliance touts the work his organization has done to craft Baltimore City’s Stormwater Remediation Fee ordinance, adding that there remain gaps in the legislation

PASTOR SEEKS FEE RELIEF: A Rosedale pastor is asking Baltimore County to reconsider new and increased fees charged to his church that were attached to his recent property tax bill. The fee is for impervious surfaces such as the church’s parking lot, building roof line, driveways and private roadways. That’s expected to cost the church nearly $1,700. The Chesapeake Bay restoration fee jumps from $360 to $720, but the largest increase comes from the sewer service fee, which rises from $1,800 to $5,100, Barry Simms of WBAL-TV reports.

RISING SEAS PART 2: In Part 2 of Capital News Service’s series on the rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Brandon Goldner writes about Crisfield, once able to proudly call itself the Seafood Capital of the World thanks to its abundant oyster beds but now barely able to keep its head above water, literally and financially.

STRAWBERRY FIELDS: The strawberries won’t grow anymore on Steve Mason’s Kent Island farm after Hurricane Isabel. In this video, he talks about the impact of higher water and more severe storms on his father’s dream.

POWER PLANT HEARING: Regulators said Monday that they will hear about the performance of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group power plants next week — including Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland — in a public meeting in Baltimore City, Jamie Smith Hopkins writes in the Sun.

ROAD CONDITIONS: Only 38% of Maryland’s roads are considered in “good condition,” while 40% were found to be in “fair condition” according to a USA Today and TRIP transportation research group analysis of Federal Highway Administration data, Mark Newgent posts at Red Maryland. And 22% of the state’s roads are rated as in “poor condition,” with 7% of Maryland’s bridges considered structurally deficient.

LOWER INSURANCE EXCHANGE RATES: State insurance officials on Friday approved the rates for individuals that were as much as 33% below what insurers had requested, reports Kevin James Shay for the Gazette. All Savers’ premium for the Montgomery 50-year-old was about 32% below what the insurer requested, while Coventry’s was some 27% below its request.

The editorial board for the Sun opines that, with some of the lowest projected insurance rates in the nation, Maryland leads the way in creating a vibrant health insurance exchange and shows that Obamacare can be affordable

COMMON CORE MISALIGNMENT: The editorial board of the Capital-Gazette addresses two issues – the misalignment between Common Core testing and Common Core teaching that ended up with a slew of poor test scores in Maryland public schools and the massive Four Seasons project slated for Kent Island, which it says is inappropriate for the area, but will go in anyway.

COLLEGE READINESS CONSORTIUM: Despite some states dropping out from tests by the  Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC leaders, apparently trying to stem concerns, said in a telephone call with reporters on Monday that the consortium isn’t falling apart. Fourteen states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia have committed to participating in the field tests next school year and giving the real thing in the 2014-2015 school year, writes Liz Bowie in the Sun.

CARROLL SCHOOLS JOIN ENERGY STAR: Alisha George of the Carroll County Times reports that Carroll County Public School employees and students will need to adjust to a new power management tool that will change the way they use school computers. The system is now part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Low Carbon IT Campaign. All of the school system’s monitors and computers now automatically enter sleep mode after a set period of inactivity.

FROSH TO RUN FOR AG: State Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County plans to officially launch his campaign for attorney general with an e-mail to supporters today in which he pledges to be “the people’s lawyer” if elected, reports John Wagner for the Post.

O’MALLEY DRUMS UP BUCKS FOR BROWN: On Monday, in an email to supporters of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Gov. Martin O’Malley used his weight to ask for money for the young campaign.

HENSON APPEAL TOSSED: A federal court on Monday rejected political consultant Julius Henson’s appeal of a $1 million civil judgment against him for an illegal Election Day robocall, Yvonne Wenger is reporting for the Sun.

HARBOR POINT TRANSPARENCY VIOLATION: Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes that a state panel has ruled that Baltimore City’s Board of Finance violated transparency laws by meeting behind closed doors to approve more than $100 million in public financing for the massive Harbor Point development southeast of the Inner Harbor.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Who’s been working behind the scenes, contributing money to politicians — in support of or opposition to the Harbor Point project? It’s perhaps no surprise: Those supporting Harbor Point have a history of donating to city Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Those opposed have a history of donating to Councilman Carl Stokes, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

ICYMI MARYLANDREPORTER.COM HONORED: For the second year in a row, Baltimore magazine has named MarylandReporter.com the best political website. And last month, the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named MarylandReporter.com the winner of its blog category in the chapter’s 2013 Dateline Awards for Excellence in Local Journalism.