October 4, 2013

State Roundup, October 4, 2013

Print More

TRANSIT PROJECTS: State Transportation Secretary Jim Smith said the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 will provide an anticipated $4.4 billion over the next six years to help the state complete a wide array of projects, reports C.J. Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. “Although $4.4 billion over the next six years is a lot of revenue, the demand is five-, six-years’ built because nothing was happening, because there was no funding available. So it’s an exciting time for jurisdictions,” Smith said.

HEALTH EXCHANGE: Anyone wondering how many people have enrolled in insurance through Maryland Health Connection so far will have to keep wondering, Sarah Gantz reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. Maryland Health Benefit Exchange leaders are keeping mum about how many of the 2,000 people who have created accounts on the new virtual marketplace have actually enrolled in a health plan.

WHAT’S IN A POLL? There’s more to polling than slapping up a question and allowing everyone to respond as many times as they possibly can, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com as he dissects several recent polls and compares them to the unscientific but rather entertaining comment-gathering widgets on many websites.

TROUBLED WATERS DAY 5: Pat Furgurson of the Capital-Gazette, in the six-day series on the long, expensive and so far unrealized cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, writes about the impervious surfaces tax, what it is supposed to do and why, in Anne Arundel, the cost is $85.

WHO IS ESSENTIAL? The Sun’s Michael Dresser wades through the confusion about who are essential federal workers and who are not during a federal shutdown, and the answers aren’t all that simple.

$760,000 A DAY IN INCOME TAX: Montgomery County is losing about $760,000 a day in income tax revenue because of the federal government shutdown, Bill Turque reports in the Post. County finance director Joseph Beach said it is a “fairly conservative” estimate. It is based on Montgomery’s approximately 70,000 resident federal employees, and county taxes as a ratio of total state taxes collected. Maryland estimates a daily loss of $4.2 million in taxes.

CARSON CLAIMS IRS TARGET HIM: Famed Baltimore neurosurgeon Ben Carson said this week he believes he was targeted for an audit by the Internal Revenue Service because of his vocal opposition to the Obama administration, writes Carrie Wells for the Sun.

IT’S THE ECONOMY: CNS’s Lauren Loricchio and Colleen Wilson, in an article in the Frederick News Post, write that Maryland’s three Republican candidates who have launched official bids for governor in a competitive primary all agree on one thing: Their focus will be on economic issues in the upcoming race.

CRAIG NOTES BROWN SKIPS: Harford County Executive David Craig, a Republican candidate for governor in 2014, got in a dig at prospective Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown over Brown’s plan to skip a forum on manufacturing that five candidates are scheduled to attend, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. Brown was the only one of the six major announced candidates to send regrets.

GANSLER STEPS BACK: The gubernatorial campaign of Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler on Thursday disavowed views on immigration expressed in 2010 by a retired Montgomery County police officer who appeared in a recent Gansler campaign video, reports John Wagner for the Post.

PLEDGE OR NOT: Four Frederick County commissioners Thursday voted to allow all board and commission members to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of their meetings, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News-Post. Board members or meeting attendees can join in the pledge or refrain and will not face consequences either way, commissioners said.

RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE: Anne Arundel County government employees would have to work longer to get health insurance in retirement, and the county would pay for a smaller portion of the coverage under a bill proposed Thursday by County Executive Laura Neuman. Neuman’s bill comes on the heels of a letter she sent to county employees Monday warning that the current retiree health plan costs too much and would be unsustainable in the long term.

The council is also expected to receive on Monday night a second proposal from Councilman Jamie Benoit, who sharply criticized Neuman’s bill in an email sent Thursday to council members and members of the administration, writes Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

REPUBLICAN WOES: In a Center Maryland column, Laslo Boyd says voters should ask GOP candidates if they support the Republican agenda in Congress that is shutting down the government.

PEDIATRIC CANCER PATIENTS: Here’s a video clip of Rep. Andy Harris from the Eastern Shore telling the House of Representatives why it should continue funding for the pediatric cancer patients.

OBAMA IN ROCKVILLE: With a Rockville construction company as a backdrop, President Obama pressed Congress on Thursday to vote to end the federal government shutdown, Sarah Scully writes in the Gazette. “Unfortunately if this continues, businesses like this are going to feel and experience the negative impact,” Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro said after the rally.

FOREHAND STILL UNDECIDED: Despite rumors that she is definitely going for another term, Sen. Jennie M. Forehand of Rockville said she has yet to officially make that call, Kate Alexander writes in the Gazette’s Reporters Notebook. Forehand is, however, “seriously considering” running for re-election to the Maryland Senate, she said. The notebook also says Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has raised $2 million this year in his race for governor.

MICRO-LOANS: Larry Perl of the Sun writes about Baltimore City’s micro-loan program and how it has helped small businesses throughout the city.