$30.5 MILLION ON MEDICAID: Jenna Johnson and Mary Pat Flaherty of the Post report that the cost to taxpayers of flaws in Maryland’s online health insurance exchange is coming into focus, with officials estimating at least $30.5 million in unnecessary Medicaid spending and conceding that they have no idea how much it will take to get a system that works.
- It's another problem exacerbated by the software that has been causing headaches since the exchange website launched on Oct. 1 for those trying to get into the expanded Medicaid program or buy private insurance with subsidies, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun.
DELANEY CONTINUES ATTACK: U.S. Rep. John Delaney came down hard on the state’s malfunctioning health exchange website while talking to legislators at a Western Maryland delegation meeting Thursday, Kaustuv Basu reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. “What I saw here in Maryland in terms of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was just an abomination. I feel like someone had to speak out, particularly someone who is a Democrat, and say, ‘We can’t tolerate this’,” Delaney said.
OVERSPENDING IN MARYLAND: A recent report from the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting noted that Maryland was among 13 state governments that spent more than the revenue they collected in fiscal 2012, writes Donald Fry for Center Maryland. The list also included all of Maryland’s mid-Atlantic neighbors, except Virginia. Additionally, the institute reports that Maryland has not collected enough revenue to cover its operating expenses in any year since 2008.
WAGE HIKE FOR CARE-GIVERS: With the governor and legislators pushing for an increase in Maryland’s state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, advocates of people with disabilities want to make sure their paid caregivers get higher wages, since the state now only reimburses them at $9.82 an hour, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com.
LOCAL ELECTIONS OFFICIALS GET WAGE HIKE: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com reports that the State Board of Elections voted unanimously Thursday to give county election directors and their deputies a 12% salary increase. In a 4-0 vote, the board voted to make the raises effective March 1, instead of being retroactive to July 2013, which State Election Administrator Linda Lamone originally requested. Local election officials have not received a pay raise in 14 years.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BILLS ADVANCE: A key committee in the Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday night advanced three bills sought by Gov. Martin O’Malley to combat domestic violence, including one that aims to make it easier for victims of abuse to receive a civil protection order, writes John Wagner in the Post.
JAILED IMMIGRANTS: Advocates and law enforcement officials called on state lawmakers Thursday to approve legislation that would limit the circumstances under which illegal immigrants could be held in jail — a proposal intended to curb a 5-year-old federal immigration program called Secure Communities, John Fritze reports in the Sun.
BEFORE A POLICE SEARCH: Del. Neil Parrott on Tuesday presented a bill that would require law-enforcement officers in the state to read individuals a statement of rights at a traffic stop before they search them or their vehicle. The measure involves those stops in which an officer asks for consent to search a person or their vehicle, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The Maryland State Police opposes the bill.
POLICE PUSHBACK ON POT: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks scratches his head over this week's pushback by chiefs of police, sheriffs and prosecutors who showed up in force in Annapolis to lobby to keep marijuana laws in place. I'm sure they mean well, he writes. Many of them believe marijuana is the threshold to cocaine and heroin. But they also came across as a little too eager to maintain a status quo that doesn't seem to be worth the public investment anymore.
- Ben Weathers of the Annapolis Capital writes that the misstatements by Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, who told lawmakers that 37 people died of marijuana overdoses when Colorado legalized pot, indeed went viral, with comments flowing into that police department from other states.
ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Two of the six bills Lower Shore lawmakers have introduced to require economic analysis on regulations like the Phosphorus Management Tool have been withdrawn, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.
COLLEGE POLICE FORCE: Anne Arundel Community College is on its way to getting its own police force, with or without Del. Don Dwyer's support, writes Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital. The Maryland Senate voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 246, a bill led by the Anne Arundel County Senate delegation. The House of Delegates voted 130-1 to pass House Bill 552, a bill led by Del. Steve Schuh.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST HENSON: The Post's Paul Schwartzman writes that Julius Henson, the Maryland political consultant known for his brash and divisive tactics, added to his reputation Thursday when he promised to keep running for office despite a judge’s ruling that he had violated his probation by becoming a candidate.
- Baltimore Circuit Judge Emanuel Brown ruled Thursday that the veteran political consultant violated probation by running for a state Senate seat and sentenced him to four months in jail. But Brown suspended the sentence pending an appeal — and his decision effectively allows Henson to keep running in the meantime, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun. A video interview with Henson tops the article.
- Larry Gibson, an election law professor and veteran campaign organizer, said Henson’s underlying crime will be an “unpardonable sin” to the “sophisticated” voters that come out in a primary election, writes Danny Jacobs in the Daily Record. “Henson would have a better chance of being elected if he committed a bank robbery than voter suppression,” said Gibson.
ALSTON MUST PAY UP: Former Del. Tiffany Alston had some unfinished business to attend to at the Maryland State Board of Elections this week before putting in her paperwork for a comeback bid, Frederick Kunkle reports for the Post. Alston, who was forced from office following a theft conviction, owed $750 in late fees that had been levied by the board against her campaign treasury for its failure to file timely campaign finance reports.
CANE RETIRING: Del. Rudy Cane closed down his re-election campaign on Wednesday, leaving Wicomico County Councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes as the sole 37A delegate candidate come the fall general election, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times. The 79-year-old lawmaker’s retirement marks the end of a lengthy political career. Cane has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 1999 and was also a Wicomico County councilman prior to that.
TWO SIDDIQUIS: For a day and a half, a husband and wife were running for the same seat in Howard County’s district 13, when Nayab Siddiqui, husband of district 13 candidate and Howard County school board member Janet Siddiqui, filed to run in the same race, Amanda Yeager writes in the Sun. But as of Thursday afternoon, Janet has officially withdrawn from the race, saying she is needed on the school board.
CRAIG RADIO AD: Harford County Executive David Craig is set to become the first candidate for Maryland governor to take to the airwaves this year with the debut of a radio ad today. John Wagner of the Post writes that Craig’s 30-second spot touts his plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the state’s personal income tax, with the Republican hopeful telling listeners, “It’s time to vote yourself a raise.”
- This is the first volley in what is expected to be a multimillion-dollar broadcast media war, with an ad on Baltimore radio stations WBAL and WCBM highlighting his proposal to phase out Maryland's income tax, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.
GANSLER JOBS PLAN: Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler on Thursday released a 30-point plan to boost job creation in Maryland, saying the state has to both modernize its workforce and do more to support existing businesses, the Post's John Wagner writes.
- Gansler's jobs PLAN focuses on bringing back manufacturing jobs, establishing a portal where academics and business workers can exchange ideas and offering incentives for small business owners to create jobs, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun.
GANSLER PROFILE: Attorney General Doug Gansler was in high school when he caught the bug for public service, writes Kate Alexander in the Gazette as she profiles the candidate for governor.
BROWN PROPOSES DREAM FUND: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a leading Democratic candidate for governor, on Thursday proposed the creation of a $4 million state fund to provide low-interest loans to help families of undocumented immigrants pay for higher education, John Wagner reports for the Post. As envisioned by Brown, the Dream Fund would build upon a 2011 law that allows students from those families to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Maryland colleges and universities.
- Brown noted that in most cases such students don't qualify for federal college loans. He said he is not aware of any comparable programs in the country, report Yvonne Wenger and Michael Dresser in the Sun.
DUNCAN BLAMES LEGGETT: Weak leadership has left Montgomery County “a day late and a million short” in its bid for more school construction aid from Annapolis, county executive candidate Doug Duncan has charged, Bill Turque reports in the Post. County Executive Ike Leggett and Montgomery state lawmakers acknowledged earlier this week that a bill to provide up to $20 million annually to leverage county borrowing for school construction and renovation was unlikely to pass this year. County officials were pushing for increases in state aid to relieve overcrowding in Montgomery schools.
PULLING AT PANTELIDES: WYPR's Joel McCord and Jack Lambert of the Annapolis Capital talk about why Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides is trying to stay out of the GOP primary for Anne Arundel County executive by campaigning for both candidates.
FERAL YOUTHS: Gazette columnist Blair Lee writes: "Clearly, what walks through many schoolhouse doors these days is a cadre of feral youths who, through no fault of their own, are incapable of behaving and learning. Pretending that “restorative justice” together with school bus cameras, metal detectors and onsite 'resource officers' (cops) can compensate for these kids’ depraved home lives is pure denial. And sacrificing order and learning by keeping these feral youths in the school setting is tragically unfair to teachers, staff and the educations of well-behaved students."