January 28, 2014

State Roundup, January 28, 2014

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AWAITING RX POT: Barry Considine still has to buy marijuana illegally, as he has since he first asked around a biker bar for it to help treat his post-polio syndrome. Ken Kopper still fears another possession arrest for using it to ease chronic pain resulting from a couple of car accidents. And Gail Rand still can only watch from afar as a boy in Colorado who has the same form of epilepsy as her 4-year-old son has become seizure-free after regularly ingesting an oil derived from marijuana. Jean Marbella, Justin George and Erin Cox of the Sun report that Marylanders are still waiting while regulations have not yet been approved for the program and no hospitals have come forth to participate, leaving patients in the same position they were in before the law was passed.

SMALL BIZ HEALTH EXCHANGE: Maryland is pushing back the launch of a website for the state’s Small Business Health Options Program Exchange until next year, the AP is reporting in the Annapolis Capital.

  • The exchange announced a deal for small businesses to sign up for tax credits and health plans approved for sale on Maryland Health Connection through brokers and insurance companies beginning in April, Sarah Gantz reports in the Baltimore Business Journal. Maryland’s health exchange also is turning to the existing broker community to help pick up the slack for its struggling website. The exchange board on Monday announced a new program with the state’s largest insurance broker membership organizations that would set up a designated help line for people who want to connect with a local broker for help navigating the website and enrolling in coverage.

CRAIG OFFERS TO PAY PHONE BILL: Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Craig has offered to personally pay the phone bills of the Seattle pottery store that fielded hundreds of wayward calls on its toll-free number from people stuck in Maryland’s broken health exchange, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

WAGE HIKE: Democratic legislative leaders gave partial support Monday to a push to raise the minimum wage, with some reiterating unwillingness to impose a “one size fits all” increase across the state, Natalie Sherman reports in the Sun.

MILK HAULING LIMITS: Maryland milk producers say they expect a bill that would increase the amount of milk that can be hauled on state roads to be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this week, writes Timothy Sandoval of the Carroll County Times. Although it has not been determined who will introduce the legislation, a state dairy industry representative said Monday that a few state lawmakers have expressed interest in introducing or sponsoring a bill that would create permits allowing five-axle trucks hauling milk to weigh more than 80,000 pounds — the current weight limit for haulers on state and interstate roads.

PIT BULL LEGISLATION: State lawmakers are considering reversing a 2012 Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that labeled pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and made dog owners and landlords “strictly liable” for any attacks by them, writes Alex Jackson for the Annapolis Capital.

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MODELS FOR BIZ SUCCESS: The editorial board for the Sun opines that it is an extremely good sign that so many lawmakers are focusing on building business and entrepreneurship in Maryland while not simply paying attention to the Tax Foundation’s reports on the state and local tax structure, as if the only choices are a Maryland heavily oriented toward government or one that radically slashes taxes and regulation.

LATE DELEGATE’S GRANDSON CHARGED: John Wagner of the Post reports that the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor announced Monday that a grandson of the late Del. Hattie Harrison (D-Baltimore City) has been charged with stealing more than $17,600 from her campaign.

TAX SCOFFLAWS: A Prince George’s woman who has written best-selling erotic novels topped this year’s list of Maryland’s top individual tax cheats, owing $340,834. Meanwhile Worldwide Internet Sweepstakes LLC, a Rockville-based company, tops the list of businesses, allegedly owing Maryland nearly $2.8 million, the state comptroller said Monday.

BA CO HIRES TOP LOBBYIST: Without any fanfare, Baltimore County government has quietly retained the services of a high-powered Annapolis lobbyist to augment its state government lobbying efforts, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The no-bid contract with Timothy Perry and his firm, Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson LLC, was signed last August without the approval of the Baltimore County Council. That’s because it was nominally for $25,000, and therefore didn’t require council action. A Kamenetz spokesman said that Perry and his partners would help lobby the state for more social services workers to help alleviate a backlog of food stamp and medical service applications that have plagued the county for more than three years.

DISTRICT 36: Richard Sossi, a former two-term state delegate and recent community liaison for U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, formally filed Thursday, Jan. 23, for the Senate seat in District 36, according to the Easton Star Democrat.

DISTRICT 37B: Dorchester County’s economic development director has entered the crowded mid-Shore delegate race, reports Jennifer Shutt in the Salisbury Daily Times. As the sole Democrat to enter the two-seat District 37B primary so far, Keasha Haythe has a good chance to advance to the general election.

CLOSER LOOKS AT STATE OF STATE: Richard Vatz, the Towson University professor who for many years has taught a course on persuasion, analyzes Gov. Martin O’Malley’s final State of the State speech and makes some observations about it for Red Maryland.

STATE IT JOB FOR EX-CITY MANAGER: Jack Lambert of the Annapolis Capital reports that Mike Mallinoff, the former city manager of Annapolis, has been hired as the new chief operations officer for Maryland’s Department of Information Technology, the agency responsible for IT and telecommunications services across state government.

FEDERAL JOB CERTAINTY: After a year marked with employee furloughs and budget cuts, employees at the National Institute of Standards and Technology will see more certainty this year, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Monday at the federal agency’s Gaithersburg headquarters. Kevin James Shay writes the story for the Gazette.

ERVIN’S REPLACEMENT: The Montgomery County Council is ready to name Cherri Branson, a longtime congressional staffer and Silver Spring resident, to fill the District 5 vacancy created by Valerie Ervin’s resignation earlier this month, Bill Turque is reporting in the Post.