April 21, 2014

State Roundup, April 21, 2014

Print More

$90M FOR TECH: Jenna Johnson of the Post reports that of the nearly $130 million that Maryland has spent on its troubled health insurance exchange, more than $90 million went toward technology expenses, according to a breakdown of costs released Friday.

HEALTH COOPERATIVE: Alissa Gulin of the Daily Record interviews Dr. Peter Beilenson who, using federal funds allocated by the Affordable Care Act, founded Evergreen Health Cooperative, which debuted this past October for open enrollment on Maryland’s glitch-ridden health exchange. A video interview tops the article.

CYBERATTACKS IN STATE GOV’T: CNS’s Mike Denison writes in MarylandReporter.com that Maryland government entities have suffered at least six cyberattacks since the beginning of 2013, according to incident reports from the Department of Information Technology. The heavily redacted reports, obtained by Capital News Service through a Maryland Public Information Act request, reveal that data-hungry hackers and scammers aren’t only going after retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus — they’re targeting state agencies.

OPEN DATA: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times writes that Gov. Martin O’Malley is a professed believer in data-gathering and numbers-crunching as a tool in governing – hence, his much-heralded StateStat system. So it’s a little disappointing that only modest steps have been taken to make this bonanza accessible to the taxpayers. Another step was taken in the recent General Assembly session with the passage of legislation that will set up a 37-member Open Data Council to promote getting all government data and documents online in searchable, machine-readable formats. O’Malley has signed the proposal into law

IMMIGRANTS IN JAIL: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Friday that a state-run jail in Baltimore City will no longer automatically comply with requests from the federal government to hold immigrants beyond their normal release date for possible deportation, John Wagner reports in the Post.

25% FOR WA CO LAWMAKERS: More than a quarter of the bills introduced by Washington County lawmakers passed during the recent session of the Maryland General Assembly, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Of the 101 measures that were introduced by local lawmakers, including delegation bills, 29 were passed by the state legislature.

GO SLOW ON POT: It is remarkable to think it is becoming legal to grow, sell and consume marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. That shift reflects a softer attitude among Americans toward the smoking of cannabis, most commonly known as pot. Many experts believe alcohol is a far more serious threat to human health than marijuana. So does all this mean Maryland should take the leap and legalize marijuana? Not so fast, writes the editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PAX BASE & WIND: The editorial board for the Sun is urging the O’Malley administration to veto the bill that will delay the construction of a wind farm in Somerset County, saying that the reason for the delay – to protect Patuxent River Naval Air Station from inconvenience – is hardly a threat. But the reasons for constructing the wind farm – needed jobs on the shore and global warming – are very real concerns.

1000 Friends banner ad 2

ISOLATED GARRETT: Columnist Barry Rascovar writes an insightful piece for MarylandReporter.com on Garrett County, that western-most of Maryland counties. Nowhere in Maryland more isolated and cut off from the rest of the state than in Garrett, he writes. It is a large, forested county with prime tourist attractions in the summer (Deep Creek Lake) and winter (Wisp ski resort). But its tiny population, not surprisingly, is shrinking. Help from Annapolis has been modest at best.

INVASIVE SPECIES: Timothy Sandoval of the Carroll County Times reports that invasive plants, insects and diseases harm the natural environment and are often costly for those affected. That’s why the Maryland Department of Agriculture is calling on the public to help stop the threat of invasive species wherever they are proliferating, releasing a set of recommendations for residents and farmers that may interact with the species.

DEL. SWAIN POLICE REPORTS: Police reports made public this week about the September beating and carjacking of Maryland Del. Darren Swain contain allegations from the suspected assailants that the lawmaker used drugs with and solicited one of them before they attacked him and stole his vehicle, Arelis Hernández reports in the Post. In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, Swain, D-Prince George’s, denied using drugs or acting inappropriately.

CURRIE’S CHALLENGER: After censure, Sen. Ulysses Currie is facing a rare primary challenge, but Del. Melony Griffith pledges a “nice” campaign in Prince George’s County, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. The veteran Prince George’s County delegate is telling them about her 15 years of legislative experience, her expertise on state pension issues and her plans to boost the economy. She’s not mentioning Currie’s trial on corruption charges and subsequent censure by the Maryland Senate.

DELEGATE 3A: Jen Bondeson of the Frederick News Post interviews Roger Wilson, a Democrat candidate for state delegate in District 3A.

NEGATIVE GUBERNATORIAL ADS: The first negative advertisements in the Democratic primary campaign for governor hit airwaves last week, pushing a feisty political fight that’s simmered for months into prime time, reports John Fritze and Erin Cox in the Sun. Already, the race among Democrats for the governor’s mansion is poised to be Maryland’s nastiest in two decades, experts said. And voters can expect the candidates with enough money to use it increasingly on negative messages until the June 24 primary.

CANDIDATES AGREE ON BIZ CLIMATE: Mike Denison of CNS reports the articles looking at the positions of the major candidates competing in the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries. In this part, he writes, all the major candidates for governor agree that Maryland’s business climate has room for improvement. But neither Democrats nor Republicans agree on how exactly this improvement will come about. The article appears in the Easton Star Democrat.

FOX & FRIENDS & JOE MCCARTHY: Television columnist David Zurawik of the Sun writes that as he watched last Tuesday while the anchors on “Fox & Friends” leveled unsubstantiated charges against U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings as if they were facts, he couldn’t help thinking how much more dangerous Sen. Joe McCarthy might have been in the 1950s if there had been a show like this to amplify his reckless allegations.

DELANEY OPENS HAGERSTOWN OFFICE: U.S. Rep. John Delaney, who represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Washington County, has a new Hagerstown office that will be open on weekdays, writes Kaustuv Basu in his Political Notebook for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

LONGSHOREMEN’S UNION: After an investigation that revealed missing money and questionable financial practices, officials of a national longshoremen’s union are considering seizing control of a Baltimore chapter — a move that could complicate contract negotiations at the port, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun.

OD DRUG: Anne Arundel County police last month announced that the department’s officers would begin carrying a drug that can reverse sometimes fatal heroin overdoses. And last week its use was strongly endorsed by the nation’s top law enforcement official, according to an AP report in the Annapolis Capital. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged first responders to use Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, amid a nationwide resurgence in heroin abuse that has claimed many lives.

AA EXEC DUSTUP: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Joel McCord talk about recent endorsements by former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley in the Anne Arundel County Executive race and how they might reflect contrasting visions for the Republican Party in Maryland.

MoCo debate banner ad