October 22, 2013

State Roundup, October 22, 2013

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***Former Gov. Marvin Mandel is being honored by The Sobeloff Law Society this Thursday evening, 6-9 p.m., at a dinner at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville. Tickets are still available for the event or contact Brian Barke at (301) 309-8300***

UNINSURED & INELIGIBLE: State officials have been talking a lot about the high number of uninsured Marylanders who will have access to Obamacare, but not all are eligible to sign up, reports Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.. Of the state’s estimated 750,000 to 800,000 uninsured residents, only 480,500 — or roughly 60% —  are eligible to enroll for health insurance plans under President Obama’s signature health care law, according to the federal health care website HealthCare.gov.

HEALTH CARE NAVIGATOR: Patti Borda of the Frederick News Post profiles one Obamacare “navigator,” who helps people enroll in either Medicaid or one of the health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.

NO HOOKAH REGS: Smokers looking to light up socially haven’t been able to in Maryland’s bars and restaurants since 2007, when the General Assembly banned smoking in most public places, writes Jon Meoli for the Sun. Enter the state’s growing number of hookah lounges, where patrons smoke flavored tobacco through water pipes and often can bring their own alcohol to consume. Throughout Maryland, no specific laws regulate hookah lounges, which often fall outside zoning rules. There’s little or no regulation in terms of health department oversight, alcohol consumption or hours of operation.

House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, far left, swears in David Fraser-Hidalgo as a new member as Fraser-Hidalgo's wife and kids look on. Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed the new Montgomery County delegate to replace Brian Feldman who was named and sworn in as a state senator for District 15 last month. .

House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, far left, swears in David Fraser-Hidalgo as a new member as Fraser-Hidalgo’s wife Lisa and his children look on. Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed the new Montgomery County delegate to replace Brian Feldman who was named and sworn in as a state senator for District 15 last month. (Photo from Speaker’s office)

WATERMEN SUE: Tim Wheeler of the Sun writes that a group of Maryland watermen has filed suit seeking to overturn the state’s catch limit on menhaden, arguing that it violates state and federal law and that the forage fish is not in need of conservation. A WJZ video report tops the article.

NO GERRYMANDERING: In a recent Gonzales poll, 73% of Marylanders questioned favor the setting of district lines by independent commissions rather than politicians. The editorial board for the Capital Gazette opines that it’s appropriate that voters of all parties recognize the potential for abuse when politicians draw district lines in which they have a direct interest. After all, gerrymandering is a bipartisan vice, practiced enthusiastically by both Republicans and Democrats when they control a state’s political machinery.

BROWN, GANSLER VIE FOR PG DEMS: Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown on Monday urged hundreds of Prince George’s County Democrats to send one of their own to Annapolis next year while his chief rival, Doug Gansler of Montgomery County, pledged to tackle long-standing issues affecting the jurisdiction, writes John Wagner for the Post.

POLITICAL POWER SHIFT: Some political observers argue the power in the state’s dominant Democratic Party has shifted down Interstate 95, and the fact that none of the candidates for the state’s executive so far hail from the Baltimore area is evidence of that trend, writes Adam Bednar for Patch.com.

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YOUNG RETURNS SOME GOV FUNDS: Commissioners President Blaine Young has returned $3,000 to $5,000 in campaign contributions since announcing he will not compete to become Maryland’s governor, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. From May 2012 through Jan. 9, Young gathered almost $447,000, and continued to build his gubernatorial war chest in the months that followed but decided in August not to run for governor.

POLITICAL FORUMS: Maryland Juice writes about two political forums that will be held today. The four candidates for attorney general will be meeting tonight in Wheaton. And the NAACP is hosting a town hall with U.S. Rep. John Delaney, Montgomery County Exec Ike Leggett and Montgomery Council Pres Nancy Navarro to discuss a range of topics including the minimum wage, voting rights and Obamacare.

HARRIS ON CROSSFIRE: John Fritze of the Sun writes that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris used an appearance Monday on CNN’s Crossfire to argue that the problems people are facing as they try to sign up for health insurance through Obamacare are only the beginning. “Some things are just not fixable,” he said.

CROSS OVER CROSSFIRE: An admittedly angry David Zurawik, media critic for the Sun, gives props to Rep. Andy Harris for trying to address issues surrounding Obamacare on CNN’s Crossfire and leaves nothing else to spare as he rakes the Obama administration and Crossfire itself over the coals.

O’MALLEY’S GREEN ACTION: As Gov. Martin O’Malley seeks to distinguish himself from other potential Democratic candidates for president, it’s clear that the environment is a big part of his political calculus, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland. He’s passed a wind energy bill, unveiled his new climate action plan, promoted measures to protect the Chesapeake Bay and upped the state’s renewable energy standard. Many possible Democratic contenders are current or former members of Congress; their environmental voting records may be sterling, but they are simply that – voting records. O’Malley is one of the few potential candidates who can boast a record of executive action.

FREDERICK’S CLOSED SESSION: The Frederick County Board of County Commissioners says it was carrying out administrative duties when it met in closed session Sept. 5 to discuss the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living, reports Courtney Mabeus for the Frederick News Post. A six-page letter sent Monday to the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board by Frederick County attorney John Mathias outlines its response to two complaints asserting that the sessions should have been open because they dealt with public business.

HOWARD ZONING BILL CHALLENGE: A group of Howard County citizens who are attempting to bring a referendum of some parts of the county’s recently passed comprehensive zoning bill to the ballot in November 2014 have obtained enough signatures to move forward with their effort, Amanda Yeager reports in the Sun.

MORE MO CO EARLY VOTING SITES: Early voting proved to be a hit in Montgomery County during the 2012 election, and now the county will move from five such sites to nine after a vote by the county’s Board of Elections Monday, reports Ryan Marshall for the Gazette. Chevy Chase, Damascus, Gaithersburg and Wheaton will get new sites to go along with the previously used sites in Burtonsville, Germantown, Rockville and Silver Spring. A second site was added in Silver Spring.

AID FOR WORKING POOR: Bill Turque of the Post reports that legislation to modestly bump up support for Montgomery’s working poor cleared a County Council committee Monday, three months after it touched off a round of sniping and backbiting. The bill raises the Working Families Income Supplement, a county payment that bolsters the federal Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working people. Eligible households can receive credits of up to $6,000 a year from the EITC. Maryland allows those households to claim half of their federal credit on state income taxes.

B’MORE SCHOOL DESIGN: The Maryland legislature approved $1.1 billion in funding for the revitalization of Baltimore City public schools, including the renovation or replacement of dozens of buildings. Construction on these projects is slated to begin in 2015. Dan Rodricks of WYPR looks at best designs for the “21st century school,” and the creation of buildings that elevate learning while fostering a collaborative and technologically-driven environment.

  • RadDad1

    Maryland is long over due for redistricting by means other than gerrymandering. Hopefully, enough voters will elected state legislators who will vote for that in the 2020 census.