December 24, 2013

State Roundup, December 24, 2013

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MarylandReporter.com is on Christmas break till Jan. 2, when the daily State Roundup and original content will return. Here are our top stories from 2013.

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WELFARE TO WORK: Gov. Martin O’Malley says 12,504 people left welfare and found jobs in the year ending Sept. 30, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times. The governor announced Monday that’s a record number for the state. He also says more than one-third of the jobs pay $10 an hour or more.

MINIMUM WAGE: Professor and author Oren Levin-Waldman, in an op-ed in the Sun, lays out a case for raising the minimum wage.

Opinionmakers at the Capital-Gazette say that raising the minimum wage should be done on a state level. But since regions differ on what is best for their constituencies, settling the issue by region may certainly be the best way to go. Either way, it will be a hot topic in Annapolis in the upcoming General Assembly session.

MORE SIGNUPS: Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday that 42,589 people had signed up for insurance through the state’s health exchange as of Dec. 21 — a jump of almost 13,000 people in a week — but the faster clip of sign-ups was temporarily stymied by more troubles with the website, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun.

SAVE THE BAY GRASSES: Climate change and human pollution are reducing levels of grasses in the Chesapeake Bay, which play a crucial role in restoring its health, reports CNS’s Sarah Polus for the Salisbury Daily Times. Bay grasses not only provide important habitats for wildlife, but experts are learning that healthy beds can be an important line of defense against severe coastal storms.

RAIN TAX REVISITED: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette urges caution as some members of the legislature move forward with proposals to alter the state’s new and much needed “rain tax.”

JUST SAY HIGH: Proponents of an effort to legalize and tax marijuana in Maryland say it will end a failed war on drugs and the criminalization of portions of the state’s population as well as bring in much needed tax money into state coffers. But drug opponent Mike Gimbel says baby boomers should just admit they want to get high, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

CARDIN ON FREED PUNK BAND: Sometimes elected officials surprise you, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Such is the case of Sen. Ben Cardin who, in a message on Twitter Monday, praised Russia’s release from prison of the all-female Russian punk rock protest band called Pussy Riot.

RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Alexander Burns of Politico writes about the uniqueness of Maryland’s 2014 gubernatorial race in the age of Obamacare: Washington has been locked for months in a series of partisan battles over Obamacare, as well as battles within the GOP over how best to oppose the ACA. But it’s Maryland that has served up the country’s first Democrat-on-Democrat brawl over the inept implementation of the law, offering perhaps a first test of Democratic voters’ patience with the ACA’s technical setbacks.

Md CAN (Citizen Action network) ad

GAY GROUP BACKS BROWN: Equality Maryland, the state’s leading gay-rights organization, endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor on Monday, saying he and his running mate would be the most effective advocates for the group’s interests, writes John Wagner in the Post.

Equality Maryland said the choice was not easy since candidate Doug Gansler, as attorney general, took an early stance in support of same-sex marriage when he declared in 2010 that Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, before such marriages were legal in Maryland. And candidate Heather Mizeur, a Montgomery County delegate, is openly gay and married to a woman, and would be the first openly gay governor to be elected in the country, writes Kevin Rector in the Sun.

GANSLER TEAM CHANGES: Antigone Davis, a longtime aide to Attorney General Doug Gansler, has taken over as the campaign manager of his Democratic gubernatorial bid, Gansler told supporters in a letter distributed Friday, John Wagner writes in the Post. Davis is the third aide to hold the title since this summer.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOHENSON-MCFADDEN RACE: Paul Schwartzman of the Post writes about the race between state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden and Julius Henson, the disgraced and jailed political adviser who is refashioning himself as a politician, but with the same fight he had before. Schwartzman begins his piece with this comparison: As midnight approached on a recent Sunday night, Nathaniel J. McFadden, a veteran Maryland state senator, was getting into bed. Meanwhile, the man plotting his demise was traveling through East Baltimore, placing on car windshields thousands of bright red fliers eviscerating his record.

DEPUTIES’ COURT FILING: An AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that Frederick County sheriff’s deputies said in a federal court filing yesterday that a man with Down syndrome who died in their custody contributed to his own asphyxiation by resisting arrest after refusing to leave a theater seat for which he had not paid. This was the first detailed response from the deputies to the family’s allegations that the officers and Regal Cinemas Inc. were grossly negligent in the Jan. 12 confrontation.