December 19, 2013

State Roundup, December 19, 2013

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Levitan Road

STATE BUDGET

FOR SALARY HIKE: The editorial board for the Baltimore Sun advocates for giving state lawmakers a salary hike, as recommended recently by the General Assembly Compensation Commission.

TRAINING WAGE: Del. Pat McDonough plans to introduce a bill creating a training wage for new employees at companies of 100 workers or less, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

COMMON CORE CONTRACT: Maryland is taking on a significant fiscal role in developing the tests that will assess students based on Common Core curriculum standards, agreeing to administer $96 million in federal grants to create the tests, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The Board of Public Works approved the contract for the State Department of Education to administer the U.S. grant. Gov. Martin O’Malley said the contract was being done at the request of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, after Florida decided to stop overseeing the funding.

OPT OUT OF MSA TESTS: Parents and teachers who don’t want students to take the soon-to-be phased-out Maryland School Assessment tests this year have gained an ally in the state legislature, reports Lindsay Powers in the Gazette. Sen. Nancy King of Montgomery Village said Monday she is drafting emergency legislation that would direct the Maryland State Department of Education to apply for a waiver from the federal government so schools can bypass the test this year.

SMOOTHER SIGNUP: Users and state officials said Wednesday that even as work continues to mend the state’s health exchange, enrollment of uninsured Marylanders is going more smoothly and a marketing push is set to get under way, reports Meredith Cohn in the Sun.

Margie Hyslop, writing in the Gazette, talks to several people who have tried to sign up, have successfully signed up or have considered signing up for Obamacare and what they have found in the process.

DELANEY PUSHES FEDERAL EXCHANGE: U.S. Rep. John Delaney continued to press the idea Wednesday that Maryland should consider abandoning its online health insurance exchange in favor of the federal marketplace, despite representations by Gov. Martin O’Malley that the most pressing problems hindering enrollment have been fixed, reports John Wagner for the Post.

Md CAN (Citizen Action network) ad

GOVERNOR’S JOB ONE: Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM opines on Gov. O’Malley and his health care exchange: If you decide to run for president while you’re still governor of a state, Job One is still running the state. If you let it seem like Job Two, someone’s going to say you’re cheating the people. If things start coming unglued with Job One, they’re going to start asking how you think you can run the country when you can’t run the state.

AMUSEMENT REGS: It’s rare that a state board defies the General Assembly, but that’s what the Maryland gaming commission did Wednesday, reports Gary Haber for the Baltimore Business Journal. And in so doing, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission handed a victory to the state’s amusement industry. For two years the industry has been battling regulations it says would put many of mom-and-pop businesses out of business.

The District 15 delegation from left: Dels. David Fraser-Hidalgo, Kathleen Dumais, Levitan, Sen. Brian Feldman, and Del. Aruna Miller.

A portion of River Road in Montgomery County was dedicated to former State Sen. Larry Levitan, who chaired the Senate budget committee. The District 15 delegation from left: Dels. David Fraser-Hidalgo, Kathleen Dumais, Levitan, Sen. Brian Feldman, and Del. Aruna Miller.

BAY-WISE HABITAT: When John and Dedra Salitrik began to transform their Frederick County backyard into an environmentally friendly habitat, the couple had no idea their efforts would one day draw two Maryland secretaries to their home, writes Ike Wilson in the Frederick News Post. Maryland Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers and Natural Resources Secretary Joe Gill visited the couple’s home Wednesday during their fourth Stormwater Innovations Tour — a campaign that brings awareness to government and citizens’ stormwater remediation efforts around the state.

UNDERFUNDED IN FREDERICK: The state estimates that Frederick County could end up underfunding required stormwater programs by about $18 million in its upcoming budget, potentially leaving it unable to comply with a federal permit, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. In fiscal 2015, the county’s 1-cent stormwater fee and other budgeted funding for water quality efforts will pay only 21% of the projected cost of the drafted permit, according to the report.

DGS BUYING P.O.: The Department of General Services is close to settling on a $3.2 million purchase of the Historic Annapolis Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service agreed in May to sell the 13,000-square-foot building on Church Circle as long as it could lease back around a third of the building for up to 20 months, keeping the post office operation running, Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette writes.2014 Calendar AD PHOTO

BLOOMBERG BACKS FROSH: In his bid for Maryland attorney general, Sen. Brian Frosh has picked up the endorsement of outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a noted national gun-control proponent, John Wagner reports in the Post.