April 16, 2014

State Roundup, April 16, 2014

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PATIENT PRIVACY: Kristi Tousignant of the Daily Record writes that, while a trio of domestic-violence protections drew wide attention, the General Assembly quietly added another layer of protection for those seeking to keep their health information confidential. SB790, passed at the end of the session, will make it easier for the person who receives medical treatment to ask the insurer to send the “Explanation of Benefits” form directly to that individual, rather than the policy holder. The bill will protect the privacy of abused spouses as well as young adults still covered under their parents’ health plans.

TIPPED WORKERS’ WAGE: Many minimum wage workers will be getting a raise now that a hike to Maryland’s wage has been signed into law. But while advocates are calling the increase a win, there’s a bitter aftertaste for one group that was left behind, reports Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. The minimum wage will increase to $10.10 over the next four years, but the wage for tipped workers was pegged at $3.63, their current pay, despite the fact that the minimum wage will climb nearly $3.

COMMON CORE: Sheilah Kast 0f WYPR-FM talks about Common Core bills in the General Assembly with MarylandReporter.com’s Glynis Kazanjian, John White of the Maryland State Department of Education and Sean Johnson of the Maryland State Education Association. The General Assembly considered several bills to change implementation of Common Core. Only three bills passed.

STATE BUDGET, LOCAL CHALLENGES: Fresh from the 2014 legislative session, state Del. Andrew Serafini told the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that Maryland’s fiscal situation might continue to pose challenges to local officials in the coming years, C.J. Lovelace reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

UTILITY USE EXTENSION: The AP is reporting that the Maryland Public Service Commission says utility customers are getting a break after an unusually cold winter. The commission’s order recognized the commitment of certain utilities to extend until May 31 a period in which they are restricted from terminating service to customers who have fallen behind on their regular bill payments provided the customer has made other payment arrangements and met other conditions. The article appears in the Salisbury Daily Times.

CAMPAIGN DONATION LIMITS: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Todd Eberly of St. Mary’s College talk about the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down aggregate campaign donation limits and how that might affect states like Maryland where one party is consistently dominant.

CANDIDATES’ POT VIEWS: While Gov. Martin O’Malley has spoken out against legalizing marijuana for recreational use, the seven major candidates vying to replace him in 2015 expressed a broad range of views in response to a Capital News Service candidates’ questionnaire. Megan Brockett of CNS writes in the Cecil Whig.

GANSLER GAINS IN POLL: Doug Gansler is gaining on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, according to an internal poll released by the Gansler-Ivey campaign. The poll, conducted for the campaign earlier this month by the Mellman Group, claims Gansler has made up as much as 14 points on Brown in the 2014 Democratic primary contest for governor, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

HOGAN MISSING EVENTS: Maryland’s GOP gubernatorial candidates volleying for the party nomination sat down for a more than two-hour debate on the Johns Hopkins University campus last week, but one contender was noticeably absent from the table, Jeremy Bauer-Wolf reports for MarylandReporter.com. Larry Hogan, since the announcement of his campaign late January, has missed at least five major forums and debates due to scheduling conflicts, a habit some of his Republican opponents have derided.

HOGAN RAISING FUNDS: Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan has emerged as a major force in his party’s chase for campaign cash, collecting more money since he joined the race three months ago than his rivals took in all of last year, figures from the campaign show, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

GANSLER PROPOSES: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is proposing to eliminate the State Prosecutor’s Office, the independent agency that secured a string of high-profile political convictions in recent years. Gansler, a Democrat running for governor, called the office “a holdover from the Watergate era” that overlaps with other law enforcement offices, Erin Cox and Ian Duncan report in the Sun.

MIZEUR BACKS PHYSICIAN-AIDED SUICIDE: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that Del. Heather Mizeur promised to push for a law allowing physician-assisted suicide in Maryland if elected governor. “If terminally ill, mentally competent adults choose to end their life, they should be able to seek a life-ending dose of medicine from their physician,” Mizeur said in a policy proposal released late Tuesday.

MIZEUR TO TOUT RETIREMENT PLAN: John Wagner of the Post reports that Heather Mizeur today will propose establishing a state-run retirement savings plan as part of a package of initiatives geared toward improving the lives of senior citizens.

BROWN JUMPS THE GUN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced Tuesday morning that a labor organization representing roofers, plumbers, bricklayers and other building trades workers in the region had endorsed his gubernatorial bid. There was only one problem: It hadn’t happened yet, writes John Wagner in the Post.

PRIEBUS HAS HOPE FOR MD: The head of the Republican National Committee told more than 250 Anne Arundel GOPers Tuesday that the party could take back the state and become “the next Wisconsin” in the 2014 election. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, was the keynote speaker at the Anne Arundel County GOP’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Celebration in Glen Burnie, reports Alex Jackson for the Annapolis Capital.

O’MALLEY FUND-RAISING: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has said he is considering a run for president in 2016, will report raising just more than $104,000 in two federal political committees during the first three months of this year, a far cry from the $1.7 million the term-limited governor raised through the two committees last year, reports John Fritze for the Sun. But aides say it reflects the fact that O’Malley did not solicit campaign cash during the state’s General Assembly session that ended last week.