November 5, 2013

State Roundup, November 5, 2013

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INSURANCE FIRMS DROP PLANS: About 73,000 policy holders around the state will lose their insurance in coming months because nine insurance companies are dropping some health plans that were not grandfathered under the Affordable Care Act, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports that the Maryland Insurance Administration confirmed Monday.

IMMIGRANT LICENSES: CNS’s Natalie Kornicks, writing in the Capital-Gazette, reports that immigrants in the country illegally can soon begin the process to get a Maryland driver’s license, according to Philip Dacey, a spokesman for the Motor Vehicle Administration. The first step is to schedule an appointment to get a driver’s license in January.

STATE SENIOR EXPO AUDIT: The Maryland Department of Aging spent nearly $220,000 in taxpayer dollars last year to host a three-day senior expo and conference at National Harbor that private sponsors and attendees were supposed to pay for, reports Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com.

SEGREGATED COLLEGES: Politicalmaryland columnist Barry Rascovar, in a piece in MarylandReporter.com, offers an interesting and indepth look at Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities – in light of a recent court ruling – and finds that racial segregation is widespread at those schools, but not at the historically white schools.

SNOW-READY: The Maryland State Highway Administration says it is refining its salting technique in preparation for winter snow and ice, according to an AP report in the Frederick News-Post. The agency is highlighting its plans at its annual Western Maryland Snow Show today in Allegany County community of LaVale.

EEL CONSERVATION: Tim Wheeler of the Sun reports that the Chesapeake Bay is a good place for catching eels. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is weighing a conservation group’s petition to declare the American eel an endangered species, with an answer promised in 2015.

$1 RAIN TAX FOR AA NONPROFITS: The Anne Arundel County Council on Monday lowered the new stormwater fees to $1 for all nonprofit organizations, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. Previously, the county charged the nominal $1 fee to religious nonprofits and churches, but the American Civil Liberties Union objected this summer, saying religious groups shouldn’t be treated differently than other groups.

HARBOR POINT UNCERTAINTY: Kenneth Burns of WYPR reports that state and federal environmental officials have dealt the controversial Harbor Point project in Baltimore City a setback, rejecting plans for monitoring the environmental safeguards in place at the former chromium plant.

Taken individually, the more than 40 requests for changes by federal and state regulators to protect the public from environmental hazards at Harbor Point seem do-able, writes Mark Reutter for the Baltimore Brew. But taken together, the revisions mandated last week have introduced a significant layer of uncertainty to a project under intense pressure to get construction underway.

GANSLER MIRRORS AMERICA: The failure of Attorney General and governor-wanna be Doug Gansler to report apparent underage drinking at a raucous “Beach Week” party that he visited reminds us of America’s gross hypocrisy in keeping laws on the books that large swaths of society have no intention of enforcing, writes Robert McCartney for the Post.

WHEN GANSLER BEAT THE MACHINE: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland recounts a time when a young Doug Gansler beat the O’Malley machine that he now says is attacking him.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

DEL. MYERS ANNOUNCES FOR COMMISSION: With the local economy and jobs his main campaign planks, Del. LeRoy Myers formally announced Monday that he will run for a seat on the Washington County Board of Commissioners in 2014, reports Kaustuv Basu in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

OLSZEWSKI JR. GETS DADS HELP: Longtime Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. will not seek re-election next year, reports Alison Knezevich for the Sun. The Dundalk Democrat, first elected in 1998, says he wants to put his energy into the campaign of his son, Del. John Olszewski Jr., who is running for the state Senate.

LEGGETT UNDER FIRE: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is punching up his stump speech as he raises money for the 2014 Democratic primary, adding a vivid anecdote about being under enemy fire as an Army captain in South Vietnam, writes Bill Turque for the Post.

ANNAPOLIS MAYOR’S RACE: Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that Annapolis voters will choose today who will lead the capital city for the next four years: incumbent Democratic Mayor Josh Cohen or Republican newcomer Mike Pantelides. Cohen says he’d continue to correct the city’s financial woes, carry out a new vision for City Dock, and improve parking and transportation. Pantelides says he’d bring a business perspective to government, holding city employees responsible for providing good service and putting an end to tax and fee increases.

FREDERICK MAYOR’S RACE: Here’s election coverage of the Frederick City mayor’s office, including video of the three-way debate, in the Frederick News Post. And the News Post’s Jen Bondeson wraps up the campaigns for mayor and aldermen. And Joel McCord of WYPR reports on the three-way race for mayor.