December 10, 2013

State Roundup, December 10, 2013

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STRONG GUN LAWS: Maryland has vaulted into the top tier of states with strong laws to prevent gun violence as a result of legislation pushed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Maryland an A- on the advocacy group’s 2013 annual scorecard, ranking it behind only California, Connecticut and New Jersey, the Post’s John Wagner writes.

GLITCH FIX DEADLINE: Even as state officials are racing to meet a self-imposed deadline to fix major glitches with the state’s online insurance marketplace, some consumers continued to have problems buying health coverage through the exchange, Andrea Walker and Meredith Cohn of the Sun are reporting. Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged to correct the problems by mid-December.

GANSLER SEEKS BROWN EMAILS: The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler on Monday called on rival Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to make public e-mails associated with the creation of the website where consumers can buy health insurance under health reform, reports Andrea Walker for the Sun. Brown’s offices cited executive privilege for not releasing e-mails sought in a public information request by The Baltimore Sun.

EXCHANGE HEADS LEAVE: An AP report in the Hagerstown Herald Mail says that 14 states and the District of Columbia told the federal government they could run their own health insurance exchanges, but three people leading their states’ exchanges have left following problem-plagued rollouts of the online marketplaces. The executive director of Maryland’s exchange, Rebecca Pearce, resigned late Friday. The head of Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace announced her resignation in November. And the head of Oregon’s health exchange took a medical leave earlier in December as state officials were reviewing his job performance.

BROWN’S PROBLEM: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post opines that when you’re in charge of something – like Lt. Gov. Brown is in charge of the state health care exchange system – you don’t assume that things are going smoothly just because you’ve thrown a lot of money at it and hired a well-paid individual to manage it. You make sure.

CROSS BORDER POLLUTION: Maryland joined seven other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states Monday in asking for federal help to curb air pollution from beyond their borders, saying their residents’ health and their economies are being hurt by smog-forming emissions from the Midwest and South, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

PRESS PASSES: Last week, the state announced new procedures for issuing media credentials to reporters who cover the State House and state government, including has criminal background checks for reporters that went into effect yesterday, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

DISTRICT 1 CONCERNS: District 1 legislators heard what was on the minds of local citizens Monday night during the annual pre-session meeting held by the state delegation to hear constituent concerns before the General Assembly session in January, writes Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News. Issues included safety of correctional officers, limitations on nurse practitioners and slot machines at veteran’s organizations.

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DISTRICT 15: Democrat Bennett Rushkoff, 55, has entered the race to represent District 15 in Maryland’s House of Delegates, saying that Maryland’s “very effective” government should be a model for the rest of the country. Rushkoff is chief of the public advocacy section in Washington, D.C.’s Attorney General’s Office, Sylvia Carignan reports in the Gazette.

ERVIN RESIGNS MO CO COUNCIL: Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin is resigning to head a New York-based non-profit that promotes economic and social justice for low-income families, Bill Turque reports for the Post.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOSENTENCED: Arthur Hirsch of the Sun writes about Robert Ballinger II, 47, who ran unsuccessfully for the Howard County Board of Education three times and was sentenced Monday in federal court for impersonating a Secret Service agent in what lawyers on both sides agreed was a “sad” case.

HUNTING IN FREDERICK: Residents in southern Frederick County can aim a rifle at a soda can in their backyard, but if they want to fire at a deer, they’re out of luck. To Commissioner Billy Shreve, that makes no sense, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. The commissioner hopes to secure the repeal of a Maryland regulation that limits deer hunting in part of Frederick County.

PANTELIDES SHAKEUP: Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides’ first meeting as head of the Annapolis City Council was short, stilted and divided along racial lines during the evening’s key vote, Jack Lambert reports for the Capital-Gazette.

Pantelides’ decision to shake up one of the City Council’s most important committees is drawing the ire of Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, who chairs the committee and was the only African-American on it until Pantelides nominated Alderman Fred Paone to replace her, reports Jack Lambert for the Capital-Gazette.

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