October 11, 2013

State Roundup, October 11, 2013

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FOOD PROGRAMS IMPERILED: Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting that the state’s budget secretary says that, with the federal shutdown, Maryland can only pay to feed low-income women and children for a “limited period of time.” The state can cover the cost of food stamps and energy programs until the end of October, the secretary said. But she is still talking with the White House and its budget office on how to pay for the federal Women, Infant and Children nutrition program that helps feed about 150,000 people in Maryland each year.

DEPENDENT ON D.C.: Don Fry of Center Maryland writes that Maryland’s economy is beginning to feel some of the downside impact of what many have warned us about over the years — the state economy’s overdependence on federal government spending.

AFFORDABLE CARE IN MARYLAND: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM addresses the Affordable Care Act in Maryland and enrollment with Kathy Westcoat, CEO of HealthCare Access Maryland; Lauren Honeycutt, a “navigator” with HealthCare Access Maryland; and Matthew Celentano, deputy director of Healthcare for All.

GUILTY PLEAS: Two corrections officers at the Baltimore jail pleaded guilty this week to their part in a Black Guerrilla Family gang smuggling scheme, as remaining defendants in the case filed motions seeking to have evidence against them thrown out, writes Ian Duncan for the Sun.

MACo AGENDA: Local funding for roads and relationships between county officials and school boards will be leading priorities for the Maryland Association of Counties in the next state legislative session, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. MACo leaders briefed Frederick County commissioners Thursday about their work on behalf of member counties. In the upcoming session, the association wants to push the state to restore local highway user funding cut during the recession and make it easier for counties to provide schools with one-time funds without increasing recurring education funding commitments.

A BETTER TAX CODE: The editorial board for the Sun takes a look at the recent Tax Foundation state assessments, in which it ranks Maryland 41st for corporate tax rate, and finds the assessments lacking in not giving a fuller picture such as what you get in return for that high rate. But the board does concede that Maryland could do better by creating a better tax code.

TEACHERS TO HEAR MOST CANDIDATES: When the Maryland State Education Association holds its annual gathering in Ocean City next week and considers who to endorse for governor, it will hear from only four of the six announced major candidates. Two of them failed to turn in their homework, writes the Sun’s Michael Dresser. Democrats Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur, as well as Republican Harford County Executive David Craig, are scheduled to speak to the influential group next Friday morning.

GANSLER’S PRE-K FUNDING: Attorney General Doug Gansler on Thursday proposed shifting a portion of the state’s gambling proceeds from the horse-racing industry to early childhood education, John Wagner of the Post reports.

Gansler, a Democrat, expanded on his idea to offer full-day preschool to disadvantaged children, saying his long-term goal would be to allow every 4-year-old to start public school a year before kindergarten in a state-run pre-K program, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

DISTRICT 37B: Johnny Mautz, a St. Michaels Republican, plans to enter the Maryland House of Delegates race for Del. Jeannie Haddaway’s District 37B seat in the 2014 general election, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star-Democrat. The Eastern Shore needs more than another representative. We need someone who knows and appreciates our heritage and will fight for the issues that matter most to us,” he said.

ELECTION MASHUP: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com updates a variety of races in Maryland including District 12 and the Annapolis mayor’s race and addresses the geezer ceiling in the State House.

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ANNAPOLIS DEBATE: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette reports that the last four years — and the next four — were up for debate Wednesday night as Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen squared off with Republican challenger Mike Pantelides in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County.

CHITLING TEST UPROAR: Community members are calling for an outside investigation into the distribution of a controversial test at Arundel High School this semester. The Chitling Intelligence Test was given out to about 400 students in late August during a lesson on cultural biases in intelligence testing, reports Tim Pratt for the Capital-Gazette.

Joe Burris of the Sun writes that the test raised objections from parents and prompted apologies from the Anne Arundel County school system.

LATINO LIAISON IN PRINCE G: Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that Dinora Hernandez, a newly minted attorney, has been tapped by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker to be his first Latino liaison. Hernandez, 27, of Hyattsville grew up in Prince George’s as the daughter of immigrants from El Salvador and was the first in her family to attend college.

SHELLENBERGER SEEKS RE-ELECTION: Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger filed this week to run for reelection as the county’s top prosecutor in 2014, Jessica Anderson writes in the Sun. Shellenberger, 54, a Democrat, was elected in 2006, following longtime county State’s Attorney Sandra O’Connor, a Republican. He won a contested re-election in 2010.

FREDERICK CARE HOMES: Frederick County’s nursing home posted losses in July and August, the second and third consecutive months it has failed to break even, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. The financial struggles underpinned county commissioners’ June decision to sell the centers to a for-profit company. However, the recent lackluster performance of Citizens follows a couple of months of surpluses.

SCHOOL SECURITY: Del. John Cluster is having another go at passing a bill that would place a police officer in every Maryland public school that does not already have one, Lindsay Powers writes in the Gazette. Cluster, R-Baltimore County, filed a similar bill in the 2013 legislative session that was voted down in the state Ways and Means Committee.

GUTIERREZ ARREST: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook, which is now largely about business, has a brief at the bottom about the arrest of Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez during an immigration protest at the U.S. Capitol. Several congressmen were arrested as well.