August 12, 2013

State Roundup, August 12, 2013

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CREDITING MAYNARD: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that Gary Maynard, the state Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, deserves at least some of the credit for the state’s dropping recidivism rate.

PRISON REFORM:WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Andy Green of the Sun talk about a recent stabbing at the maximum-security facility and why this complicates efforts at prison reform.

HEROIN DEATHS: Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged Friday to work with local and federal officials to combat heroin overdose deaths in Maryland, which jumped to the highest level last year since 2007, writes John Wagner for the Post. “We’re losing more Marylanders to heroin alone now than we lose to homicides,” O’Malley said. “That’s a pretty stunning figure.”

Gov. O’Malley pledged the state’s support to work with Cecil County and federal officials to reduce drug overdose deaths here and statewide, reports Cheryl Mattix in the Cecil Whig.

Adelma Gregory-Bunnell of the Cecil Whig also reports that protestors were there to greet O’Malley in Elkton.

EXPORTS UP: The International Trade Administration announced new data that shows Maryland merchandise exports increased 5% in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, growing from $5.8 billion to $6 billion, according to an article of unknown source in the Easton Star Democrat. This was a record high export level for the state.

SISTER CITY STATUS STANDS: The Maryland deputy secretary of state said that it has no plans to sever its “sister city” status with St. Petersburg, Russia, despite calls from pro-LGBT activists to end relationships with cities in the country due to the Russian government’s recent passage of anti-gay laws and apparent condoning of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination, reports John Riley for MetroWeekly.

SPEED CAMERA VANDALISM: Whitney Teal of Patch.com puts together a brief history of vandalism of speed cameras in Maryland.

OBAMACARE IN MARYLAND: Lena Sun of the Post compares Obamacare in Maryland and Virginia, finding that Maryland consumers who want to buy health insurance under Obamacare will be able to read glossy fact sheets that spell out the law in simple language. Or talk to one of 325 specially trained workers who will explain the intricacies and help them enroll. Or get information via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In Virginia, it’s a different story.

Maryland was out front early when it decided to launch its own state health insurance exchange under Obamacare, securing $173 million in federal funds to build it. To date, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com, Maryland Health Connection has received $157 million in federal funds, with $16 million pending. An additional $24 million in state general funds for fiscal years 2012 through 2014 were also budgeted to cover costs that cannot legally be funded using federal dollars.

GINSENG HARVEST BAN: Hoping to save what’s left of Maryland’s dwindling wild ginseng population, the state has banned collection of the sought-after herb on all state-owned lands, writes Tim Wheeler in the Sun.

MINORITY OPPORTUNITY: For all of its much-celebrated progressive tradition, Montgomery County has never sent a candidate of color to the state Senate, reports Bill Turque for the Post. So, when state Sen. Rob Garagiola announced his resignation in June, leaders of the county’s minority communities saw it as an opportunity to breach a major political barrier.

REPLACING PIPKIN: Red Maryland Radio speaks with Mike Pantelides, a Republican candidate for mayor of Annapolis, then – at minute 23 – discusses, with blogger Michael Swartz, the resignation of state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who will replace him and how it will affect other races in the General Assembly.

RODRICKS’ ROUNDUP: In this news roundup, Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM takes a look at the tragic story of the Crownsville State Hospital with Tom Marquardt of the Capital. He also speaks with political analyst Barry Rascovar on Gov. O’Malley’s latest steps toward becoming a presidential candidate. And he talks with Ian Duncan of the Sun has the latest on Black Guerilla Family gang leader Tavon White.

HEATED HARRIS MEETING: At a packed gathering in Bel Air, a town hall meeting grew heated, when GOP U.S. Rep. Andy Harris faced disgruntled constituents angry over partisan politics fraying the country and the perceived lack of Republican action to fix problems, according to a story in the Huffington Post. There’s video at the top of the article.

The overflow crowd in the board of commissioners meeting room was overwhelmingly white and older, and booed loudly when one audience member asked Harris to support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, Erica Werner of the AP reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

EDWARDS OPENING OFFICE: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards is opening a district office in Severna Park, fulfilling a campaign promise she made last year, reports Allison Bourg in the Capital-Gazette.

FRANKED MAIL: Maryland’s congressional representatives spent $230,203 in 2012 to send out franked mail, down from $356,124 in 2011 and $533,180 in 2010, reports Courtney Mabeus for the Frederick News-Post.

LOLLAR CAMPAIGN: Republican hopeful Charles Lollar is preparing to launch his Maryland gubernatorial campaign in the first week of September with a three-day bus tour and a push for donations that he’s calling a “money bomb,” writes John Wagner for the Post. Lollar, a Charles County businessman and Marine Corps Reserve officer, shared his plans for his “all-important announcement” in an e-mail to supporters Thursday night.

DGA FUNDRAISING: The Democratic Governors Association is seeking a ruling that would allow it to expand its role in federal elections as its chief fundraiser, Gov. Martin O’Malley, is considering a run for president, documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

STATE PAYMENTS SOUGHT: Two Baltimore City councilmen are formally calling on the state of Maryland to cover the costs of erroneous historic property tax credits that have cut revenue to the city over the past several years, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

FREDERICK UNBOWED: Opinionators at the Sun write that Frederick County’s Commissioners appear to be unbowed by a federal appellate court ruling last week that found fault with two Frederick County sheriff’s deputies who arrested a Salvadoran woman on the basis of a civil immigration warrant. After discussing the case, four of the five commissioners voted to send a letter of support to the sheriff and his deputies, and Commission President Blaine Young pledged that county officials would continue to enforce immigration laws as much as possible in an effort to make Frederick the Maryland county that is “most unfriendly to illegal aliens.” That would be a mistake, says the editorial.

ANNAPOLIS CAMPAIGN ISSUES: Four Capital-Gazette reporters were dispatched to different areas of Annapolis to speak with voters about their concerns for the city as campaigns for mayor and city council get under way.