July 1, 2014

State Roundup, July 1, 2014

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HOME-CARE WORKERS: Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday that Maryland would review its collective bargaining arrangement for home-care workers following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that workers in Illinois could not be required to pay fees to cover a union’s negotiating costs, reports John Wagner for the Post. “We are still reviewing the details of the decision, but we are disappointed with the outcome,” O’Malley said.

CONTRACEPTIVE RULING: Gov. Martin O’Malley sharply criticized Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that certain corporations can cite religious grounds in refusing to pay for employee’s contraception coverage, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT: Danae King of the Sun reports that Maryland joins at least a dozen other states today in banning the sale of 190-proof grain alcohol, a measure that lawmakers hope will help to reduce sexual assaults and binge drinking among college students. The bill is one of more than 200 that go into effect today.

HEALTH EXCHANGE CONTRACTS: The Maryland health exchange board signed off Monday on most of its technology purchases for a new online marketplace set to launch in November, reports Meredith Cohn of the Sun. The board made the approvals after a closed evening session, bringing the total to be spent over the next five years to more than $96 million.

FRANCHOT’S SCHOOL START: Center Maryland sits down with Comptroller Peter Franchot to discuss the effort that is under way in Annapolis to have Maryland’s school year start after Labor Day. Franchot, who has championed the effort, explains how the change would benefit the state’s tourism industry and small businesses.

FRANCHOT HONORED: A North-American government finance organization has awarded Comptroller Peter Franchot with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, according to the Easton Star Democrat.

UM’S MOVE TO BIG 10: Don Markus of the Sun writes about the University of Maryland’s transition from the ACC to the Big Ten and how UM sports fans are handling the move.

SHE-CRAB HARVEST: Maryland plans to follow Virginia’s lead in restricting the number of female crabs that will be harvested over the next year, writes Pat Furgurson for the Annapolis Capital. The cutback in female crab catch is a reaction to last winter’s annual crab dredge survey results showing a drop in the total number of crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, and the female crab count was under the level considered sustainable by fisheries officials.

DEM SEEKS TO BEST HOUGH: It was fear of a Tea Party Republican winning the race in District 4 that got Dan Rupli, an old Democratic war-horse, to accept his party’s pleas to get into the race, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. Now that Del. Michael Hough has beaten Sen. David Brinkley, the Senate minority leader, in conservative-minded District 4, Rupli and Hough will battle it out in the fall.

WHEN FROSH EYED VICTORY: Two weeks prior to the June 24 primary, following an 18-month campaign throughout which he struggled to get his name and message before Maryland’s Democratic electorate, state Sen. Brian Frosh finally knew he was on a glide path to win his party’s nomination for attorney general. Louis Peck writes in the Bethesda Magazine.

NONCOMPETITIVE RACES: Opinionmaker Blair Lee of the Gazette, in a post-primary assessment, writes that much has been written about the dismal voter turnout (20.7%) in last week’s primary election, the worst in modern history. Contributing factors include switching the election from September to June, lackluster candidates and voter burnout. He adds another — the lack of competitive races.

WAL-MART PLAN CRITICIZED: Prince George’s County residents are questioning a plan to construct a Wal-Mart in a South Bowie strip mall, saying that a planning board has ignored their concerns that the discount retailer would have a negative impact on adjacent neighborhoods, Arelis Hernández reports for the Post.