November 27, 2013

State Roundup, November 27, 2013

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Happy Thanksgiving. State Roundup will be back on Monday.

HEALTH WEBSITE FIXES ‘SLUGGISH:’ Maryland Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein told state lawmakers on Tuesday that he could not say when the state’s troubled health exchange website would be free of technical glitches, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. Sharfstein told the Senate Finance Committee that state workers hope to get the public marketplace for insurance plans problem-free “as soon as possible,” but that the pace of enrollments is still sluggish and “I wouldn’t say I’m happy.”

ALBATROSS: Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a $210 million albatross that wiped out nearby businesses, increased unemployment and crime, failed to live up to economic development promises and burdened taxpayers with debt while enriching team owners. That’s the gist of a Bloomberg report centered around Camden Yards that warns of the perils of public financing for stadiums, reports James Briggs for the Baltimore Business Journal.

TURKEY: Maryland may have a requirement for a balanced budget, but its audited financial statements show that it spent more than it took in from fiscal 2008 to 2012, according to the Institute for Truth in Accounting. This made Maryland one of 13 “turkey states” that had more expenses than revenues in fiscal 2012. The list includes all of Maryland’s neighbors except Virginia, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

GANSLER JOINS PICKET: Attorney Doug Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, joined union workers picketing outside a Safeway grocery store in Bowie on Tuesday in an attempt to draw attention to a potential loss of health-care benefits. “We want the workers to make sure they know we’re behind them,” said Gansler, as he appeared with his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey and several campaign volunteers, who brought coffee to those on the picket line and helped collect petition cards.

Erin Cox of the Sun reports that Gansler accused Safeway and Giant, which negotiate with the same union, of trying to use provisions of the new federal health law “to take away” health coverage.  “Companies are using the Affordable Care Act to undermine health care,” Gansler said.

GEORGE CALLS FOR HEARINGS: Del. Ron George, a Republican candidate for governor, called Tuesday for legislative hearings on why Maryland excluded an unusually large number of English language learners and students with learning disabilities from taking a national reading test, reports John Wagner of the Post.

George, ranking member of the House Ways & Means education subcommittee, accused the administration of cheating its way to No. 1 — a ranking Gov. Martin O’Malley and legislative leaders frequently boast about, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun.

Maryland’s excuses for excusing some students from national reading tests, a practice that has skyrocketed Maryland to the top of national rankings, is as bogus a justification as its ranking, opines the editorial board for the Washington Post.

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MOVE OVER LAW: Maryland State Police are cracking down on motorists who violate the state’s Move Over Law. Lt. Michael Fluharty, commander of the Hagerstown state police barrack, said that although the traffic law designed to protect emergency workers on Maryland’s roadways took effect three years ago, authorities are enforcing it now more than ever, writes Dan Dearth for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

SHA READY FOR WINTER: As the region prepares for possible inclement weather during the Thanksgiving and Hanukkah holidays, the State Highway Administration unveiled a beefed-up arsenal Tuesday for tracking and battling winter storms, reports Joe Burris of the Sun. SHA spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar said the administration has about 2,400 pieces of equipment available this season to fight storms, including two double-winged snowplows added this year.

FREDERICK LAWMAKERS EYE TAX CUTS: State lawmakers from Frederick County are laying the groundwork for an all-out attack on taxes during the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. Sen. David Brinkley is looking to reduce the corporate income tax rate and adjust the Maryland estate tax. Del. Michael Hough wants to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases. And Del. Kathy Afzali is looking to ease the estate tax burden on family businesses.

CARROLL LEGISLATION: Blair Ames of the Sun writes that the Board of Carroll County Commissioners will ask Carroll’s Annapolis delegation for legislation that has been proposed in recent years, such as casino nights for fire departments, while also tackling much discussed issues in Carroll, such as the Common Core State Standards and stormwater requirements, in their 2014 legislative proposals.

CARROLL STORMWATER FEE FIGHT: Carroll County Commissioners and officials from Carroll’s eight municipalities discussed a potential short-term plan Tuesday to fund state-mandated stormwater projects that are expected to be handed down in 2014. The discussion comes as the county is determining how best to fight its state requirement to implement a fee to pay for stormwater management improvements meant to help clean the Chesapeake Bay, reports Tim Sandoval for the Carroll County Times.

GRUBER’S POWER: Kate Alexander of the Gazette profiles Vicki Gruber, chief of staff to Senate President Mike Miller and considered by some to be one of the most powerful people in Annapolis.

GOP STRATEGIES: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Erin Cox of the Baltimore Sun talk about the new strategies discussed at the Maryland GOP’s fall convention and what Republicans can learn from Mike Pantelides’ victory in the Annapolis mayor’s race.

ZERO TOLERANCE: The Maryland Republican Party convention was dominated by Larry Hogan’s announcement of his intention to run for governor, opines Greg Kline of Red Maryland in a piece for the Sun. Lost in the excitement, the assembled central committee members from around the state debated a non-binding resolution calling on the MDGOP to withdraw its support for elected officials who have been “convicted and incarcerated.”

DISTRICT 31B: Stan Janor of Stoney Beach kicked off his campaign for House of Delegates earlier in November, reports the Capital-Gazette. Janor, a public defender at the District Court in Glen Burnie, is seeking one of two seats in the newly created District 31B, which includes Pasadena and parts of Severna Park and Glen Burnie. He ran for a District 31 seat in 2010.

DISTRICT 32: Democrat Steven Wyatt of Linthicum has joined the race for the House of Delegates in District 32. Wyatt said he began thinking about public service 13 years ago while on active duty with the Navy, writes Rick Hutzell of the Capital-Gazette.

NEUMAN BACKS KITTLEMAN: Since taking on the post of Anne Arundel County executive early this year, Laura Neuman hasn’t had much time to spend in her old stomping grounds of Howard County. But the former president and CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority made time to stop by the Savage Mill last Friday to endorse Republican state Sen. Allan Kittleman in his bid for Howard County executive, reports Amanda Yeager for the Sun.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE IN MO CO: The Montgomery County Council voted overwhelmingly to establish the county’s own minimum wage Tuesday, approving a historic increase that will lift the hourly rate to $11.50 by 2017 — far above the current state and federal minimum of $7.25, reports Bill Turque for the Post.

BROCHIN QUESTIONS SALE: State Sen. Jim Brochin questioned Tuesday how taxpayers would benefit from Baltimore County’s plan to sell the Towson firehouse to developers, as residents called on the County Council to delay or stop the sale of that site and the North Point Government Center in Dundalk, reports Allison Knezevich for the Sun.

CARE CENTER SUBDIVISION OVERTURNED: The Frederick County Board of County Commissioners will need to retrace its steps when pursuing the privatization of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living facility, reports Jen Bondeson for the Frederick News Post. Frederick City’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted Tuesday to reverse the city Planning Commission’s decision to subdivide the land.

  • RadDad1

    Happy Thanksgiving to MarylandReporter.com. I am thankful for all your good work!