July 16, 2014

State Roundup, July 16, 2014

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EXCHANGE GLITCHES: Coding problems that led to coverage and billing troubles for thousands of consumers using Connecticut’s online insurance marketplace will be fixed in Maryland’s version of the technology, officials said. Maryland officials had been preparing to use the technology underlying the Connecticut exchange after ditching their own glitch-prone software. They still expect the new Maryland Health Benefit Exchange website to be operating smoothly in November, when the next round of consumers will be allowed to buy health coverage, report Meredith Cohn and Pamela Wood for the Sun.

QUICKER ACTIONS? The death of a severely disabled foster child earlier this month while under the care of a group home in Anne Arundel County that Maryland health regulators were in the process of shutting down inevitably raises the question of whether the boy’s life could have been saved if state officials had acted more quickly, opines the editorial board for the Sun.

LITTLE SCRUTINY: Maryland’s Board of Public Works, a panel that includes the governor and other top state officials, did little to scrutinize millions in contracts it awarded in recent years to the financially strapped operator of a group home where a 10-year-old boy died this month, records show. And state agency officials who recommended LifeLine for various contracts from 2011 through September did not mention the company’s fiscal and quality problems to the board — even as they touted a new process to reward only top-quality contractors.

JETPACK REGULATIONS: Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has enacted new rules and regulations on the water jetpack businesses that have popped up around Ocean City.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN: Gov. Martin O’Malley appears to be facing the consequences of sharply challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to deal with an influx of immigrant children who have crossed the border into this country unaccompanied.Tuesday, details of that private conversation leaked to political reporters via a “Democratic source” — and not one in Annapolis, according to the aides. The comments painted O’Malley as a hypocrite, reports Jenna Johnson of the Post.

SHERIFF JENKINS’ TRIP: The organization that funded Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins’ trip to Texas is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group and described as anti-immigrant with links to white supremacism, reports Grace Toohey of the Frederick News Post. But Jenkins rejected the law center’s claims about the group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

SEVEN STINGING INSULTS: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown are scheduled to officially renounce the bitterness of their gubernatorial primary race Wednesday morning at a “unity reception” organized by the state Democratic Party. But, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post, on the eve of the Brown-Gansler rendition of Kumbaya, it seems worth looking back at highlights from the past year or so, when Gansler — who is known for his verbal outbursts — couldn’t seem to say anything nice about his opponent.

HOGAN TAPS HARRIS IN CECIL: The campaign to elect Republican Larry Hogan as governor of Maryland in the 2014 general election announced last week that it has named Bill Harris to coordinate the Hogan campaign in Cecil County, writes Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig.

PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post writes that Maryland’s public financing system for gubernatorial candidates was used this election cycle by Democrat Heather Mizeur and Republican Larry Hogan. This is an unusual turn of events, even though Maryland has had a public financing law on the books for decades. There has not been a real funding source for the program since 2010, however, when lawmakers voted to remove the tax add-on box from state income tax forms. It should not have been removed, and it should now be reinstated.

DISTRICT 31A CANDIDATES: Ned Carey and Terry Lynn DeGraw made their first appearance together Monday in Glen Burnie, explaining their plans if elected as the first delegate from District 31A. Zoe Read of the Annapolis Capital reports that Carey introduced himself to the 15 people at the Sun Valley Improvement & Recreational Association meeting, and said he would focus on jobs, public safety, seniors and education if elected. DeGraw asked residents about their own concerns, and when someone complained about homes sitting vacant after foreclosure she told a story about how she and her husband bought a foreclosed house and fixed it up.

CONTI DROPS OUT: Annapolis Capital columnist Rick Hutzell writes about Joanna Conti and the real reasons she decided to drop out of the race for Anne Arundel County executive.

O’MALLEY’S WARCHEST: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a run for president, raised just over $796,000 into two federal political committees in the second quarter of the year — continuing steady fundraising progress even as speculation about 2016 continues to center on Hillary Clinton, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

PAUL AIDES BONGINO AGAIN: For the second time this year, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican considered a presidential contender, has helped Dan Bongino raise money in his race to recapture Maryland’s 6th Congressional District for the GOP, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

NEW CHAIR FOR MO CO DEMS: Kevin Walling, a 28-year old political operative who has not previously served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Monday night was elected to chair the panel – whose membership has experienced a significant turnover due to retirements as well as efforts earlier this year to smooth relations with several of the county’s leading labor groups.Walling is the youngest person ever to head the county’s Democratic committee, as well as the first openly gay person to do so, reports Louis Peck for Bethesda Magazine.