November 15, 2013

State Roundup, November 15, 2013

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JAIL REFORMS: Seven months after the Baltimore City Detention Center was thrust into the national spotlight as a haven for corruption, state corrections officials made the case Thursday that a series of reforms have significantly improved safety at the 150-year-old facility, reports Justin Fenton in the Sun. A video report from WJZ tops the article.

Here’s a Sun photo gallery taken by Lloyd Fox inside the jail.

FUN IN THE SUN TAX CREDIT: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette opines that while Sen. Simonaire is having fun with the so-called rain tax by proposing a sunshine credit, the laudable work of cleaning up the bay should not get lost in the humor and the fight.

DON’T HIKE DEBT: The legislature’s fiscal staff told lawmakers Thursday that they should not follow an O’Malley administration proposal  to increase Maryland’s authorized debt by $375 million over the next five years, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

DELANEY CALLS ACA ROLLOUT A FAILURE: U.S. Rep. John Delaney says the federal health care rollout has been “a terrible failure so far,” but he sees progress in the president’s proposal to prevent insurance plan cancellations, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

STATE MAY EXTEND ROLLOUT: A letter thousands of Marylanders received notifying them that their health plans have been canceled may now be reversed if Maryland lets companies offer such plans for an additional year, writes Rachel Roubein for the Carroll County Times. The state hasn’t yet decided, as President Barack Obama just gave states this option as an effort to help win back the public’s trust and as a response to those frustrated with the federal health-care overhaul’s rollout.

ADJUNCTS’ DILEMMA: Part-time, or “adjunct,” instructors comprise 50% of all faculty members at U.S. colleges. These instructors often have no benefits, no job security and low pay, and recently local community colleges have begun cutting their hours to avoid complying with the ACA. This segment of the Marc Steiner show on WEAA-FM looks at adjunct instructors.

DISTRICT 12 FORUM: The event hall at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department was packed with nearly 200 people for a forum featuring all nine Democratic candidates for three open seats in the House of Delegates for District 12, writes Julie Baugham for the Sun. The Nov. 13 forum, hosted by District 12A Del. James Malone, provided the nine an opportunity to introduce themselves, explain why they are running and answer nine questions from Malone.

HENSON SEEKS MCFADDEN’S SEAT: Luke Broadwater of the Sun has an insightful profile of Julius Henson, campaign operative, community activist and devoted son who spent time in jail for the robocall scandal. Henson now hopes to unseat Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.

POLITICAL NOTES: New head of the Anne Arundel County GOP; fundraisers for Arundel Exec Neuman, challenger Conti among political events, in Allison Bourg’s Political Notes in the Capital-Gazette.

EX-ATTY GENS BACK BROWN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown picked up endorsements Thursday for his 2014 gubernatorial bid from two predecessors of Attorney General Doug Gansler, Brown’s chief party rival for governor, the Post’s John Wagner writes. Former Maryland attorneys general Joe Curran and Stephen Sachs both said in statements that Brown is their preferred candidate to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley.

CAMPAIGN PLEDGE: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler asked his Democratic rivals Tuesday to pledge to keep outside spending out of the race for governor, but his opponents are in no hurry to give him an answer, the Gazette’s Kate Alexander reports.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

 ACA ROLLOUT BROWN’S PROBLEM? Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV reports that the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act may be politically thorny for gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Brown was the top gun in Maryland selling health care reform as he co-chaired the effort to get the state’s insurance exchange up and running.

ATTY GEN RACE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Steve Lash of the Daily Record talk about the Democratic candidates for Maryland Attorney General, and why potential Republican candidates may be biding their time.

MoCoSCHOOLS: Montgomery County legislators hope to convince their colleagues around the state that the affluent county needs up to $20 million in state money to ease its problems with crowded schools, Kate Alexander writes in the Gazette. But they think they can make a persuasive case based on numbers showing the county’s growth.

PRESSED BY YOUNG: Maryland planning officials were pressured this week to answer a list of questions posed by Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. Young sent his Nov. 6 inquiry to David Cotton, an official with the Maryland Department of Planning, to gather information relating to the controversial Monrovia Town Center. A week later, Young sent a terse follow-up message, complete with underlined and bolded words.

O’MALLEY’S FOLLY: In Part II assessing the Baltimore City-owned Hilton Hotel, which he calls O’Malley’s Folly, commentator Barry Rascovar of politicalmaryland.com speaks with a commercial real estate expert who assesses the financial stability of the project.

HARBOR POINT DELAY: Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports that Baltimore City will hold off on issuing TIF tax financing bonds for Harbor Point until the project gets a green light from federal and state environmental regulators. Two weeks ago, the EPA and MDE voiced a series of objections to the air monitoring system proposed by Beatty Development Group, which is seeking to build a $1 billion office and apartment complex on the 27-acre site.

ELECTION BOARD CHANGE: The Talbot County Council has decided to support a request from the Talbot County Election Board that the number of its full voting members be changed from three to five. Right now the board has three voting members and two substitutes, Chris Polk reports for the Easton Star Democrat.

RACE TO THE TOP BUCKS: The Allegany County Board of Education announced Tuesday that it is hoping to fund seven initiatives by applying for $14.7 million in Race to the Top grant funding, reports Greg Larry in the Cumberland Times-News.