November 14, 2013

State Roundup, November 14, 2013

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ACA NUMBERS: Among the 106,000 Americans who have successfully signed up in October for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 1,284 are in Maryland, report Meredith Cohn and John Fritze of the Sun.

WEBSITE CONTRACTOR REMOVED: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette reports that a subcontractor working on Maryland’s problematic health care website was removed from the project less than a month after its launch, according to a recent legal filing in Maryland.

SHARFSTEIN ON ACA: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM hosts Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to answers listener questions about the rollout of the state’s exchange.

COMMON CORE CONCERNS: Liz Bowie of the Sun reports that according to a new survey released Wednesday by the state teachers union, schools from Ocean City to Garrett County are struggling to put in place two major shifts in education policy this year, with teachers working longer hours and sometimes feeling overwhelmed.

The survey of 745 Maryland teachers shows that two-thirds of teachers – 65% – don’t feel prepared to implement the new Common Core curriculum, which was introduced in public schools this fall, writes Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com.

RAISE THE WAGE:Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said Wednesday that he supports legislation to raise the county’s minimum wage, concluding that there is no guarantee the Maryland General Assembly will take action “this year or in the foreseeable future,” reports Bill Turque in the Post.

ERVIN CRITICIZES STATE DELEGATION: Two weeks ago, Montgomery County Council members and state lawmakers stood shoulder-to-shoulder at a news conference, vowing to secure a major school construction funding package next year from the state, writes Bill Turque for the Post. But at a council discussion Tuesday on state legislative strategy, council member Valerie Ervin said it would be a struggle to keep legislators focused on Montgomery’s needs when they are too often beholden to Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.

END GOP-GOP FEUDS: Dan Bongino, a Republican candidate for House of Representatives issued a statement Tuesday night calling for an end to “parochial spats developing amongst a limited number of campaign staffs” within his own party, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

TRIP TO ASIA: Del. Guy Guzzone. state Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, a Baltimore City Democrat, and elected officials from other mid-Atlantic states made up the rest of an American delegation that took an 11-day trip to Asia that included a week in Taiwan and four days in Hong Kong, writes Amanda Yeager in the Howard County Times.

SEEKS FOREHAND’S SEAT: As expected, Del. Luiz Simmons formally announced Wednesday that he will seek the Maryland Senate seat currently held by Jennie Forehand, a fellow Montgomery County Democrat and one of the legislature’s longest-serving members, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

MIZEUR’S CHOICES: After a lengthy lesson on how to pronounce gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur’s last name, Sun columnist Dan Rodricks (that’s Rod-rix) says that the last place poll finisher isn’t giving up without a fight. Her tax cut, wage-hike proposal and support of combined reporting plus her choice for a running mate have all made her a serious contender.

Mizeur’s choice of a progressive pastor not from Baltimore City as a running mate may seem like an odd choice, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland, but it actually could prove to help her campaign.

BROWN REVIEWS DARK MONEY PLEDGE: One day after challenging fellow Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates to forgo independent expenditures in the 2014 campaign, Doug Gansler stands alone, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. But Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s campaign say he is reviewing the pledge.

GANSLER BLASTED ON VET CLAIMS REMARK: A Maryland state senator who heads the General Assembly’s veteran’s caucus rebuked Attorney General Doug Gansler Tuesday night over the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s claim he could fix problems with federal processing of veterans’ claims better than his campaign rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

WHO ARE THEY? Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland writes that he hopes Marylanders get a chance to really learn about the gubernatorial candidates before one of them gets elected.

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SMART METER MONEY: Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew follows the money from a Baltimore City “smart meter” contract back to campaign finance records of January 2011, as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was tooling up for a full term in office. In a 24-hour span, her campaign raked in $43,000 from a seemingly motley assortment of individuals and companies, even though no major fundraising event was held. The donations included checks from a water supply company in Pennsylvania, a cell tower repairer in Maryland, a plumbing firm in Baltimore and a water consultant in Dickeyville. (At the very bottom of the page are links to Reutter’s series of articles on the meters.)

CITY HOTEL: Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM defends Baltimore City’s decision to get into the hotel business, saying you either move forward or fall backward.

ALDERMAN RECALL PETITION: A group of Annapolis residents is launching an effort to recall one of the city’s aldermen after he floated the idea of stripping the mayor of some powers, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. The recall petition targets Alderman Ross Arnett, who last week won re-election as a Democrat representing the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.

AN IDEA NOT FOR NOW: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette reiterates what it said four-and-a-half years ago: “In an ideal world, Annapolis would settle the issue of whether to change its form of government well away from the city election. Serious questions about how would not muddle equally serious questions about who.” The board says it thought Arnett had more sense than to start talking again about his proposal immediately after the surprise election of a Republican mayoral candidate.

WRONG POLL DIRECTIONS: Two Frederick political groups say they accidentally directed some voters to the wrong polling place for last week’s city election, Jen Bondeson reports for the Frederick News-Post.