July 22, 2014

State Roundup, July 22, 2014

Print More

SOLUTIONS TO IMMIGRANT CRISIS: Gov. Martin O’Malley gathered about 50 religious leaders in Annapolis on Monday for what aides described as a brain-storming session on how Maryland can help respond to the influx of unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border, writes John Wagner of the Post.

WHO’S HELPING? Humanity faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, and Rep. Andy Harris, the Republican congressman from Maryland’s 1st District, pledges to do everything in his power to keep a tiny fraction of Central American children out of a shelter in Carroll County. Harris is a doctor, but apparently not a compassionate one, opines columnist Dan Rodricks in the Sun.

REDISTRICTING REFORM: Alex Jackson reports in the Annapolis Capital that after victories in Florida and California, some nonprofit organizations are turning up the heat to change the way redistricting is done in Maryland. Common Cause Maryland and the League of Women Voters, among other groups, held a rally in Annapolis last week to call for reform of the state process.

  • The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that one change could make a dent in the polarization that cripples Congress and adds to the winner-take-all mentality in the General Assembly: redistricting reform. That means prying the drawing of districts away from the politicians who, every 10 years, cynically turn the process into an exercise in constructing “safe” districts for incumbents and shrinking the minority party’s turf into insignificance.

PUBLIC INFORMATION VIOLATIONS: Officials with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange are vowing to do a better job of responding to requests for documents after a review of a log tracking the requests revealed the agency has violated the law in more than three out of every 10 requests, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

VENTURE CAPITAL: Maryland companies raised $64 million in venture capital funding this spring, with some of the biggest payouts flowing to Baltimore cybersecurity startups, reports Jamie Smith Hopkins in the Sun. That’s according to the latest MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The report, which uses Thomson Reuters data, tracks money flowing to startups and later-stage firms across the country.

DELANEY’S WAY: His Republican opponent may call him a liberal Democrat, but U.S. Rep. John Delaney continues to go his own way in Maryland’s Democratic Party representing part of Montgomery County and most of western Maryland in the 6th Congressional District, writes Len Lazarick for Marylandreporter.com.

RED LINE COSTS: Benjamin Rosenberg of the Light Rail Coalition, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that in a recent letter to Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Smith, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz correctly stated that “… there was always a clear understanding that [the Red Line] would be a state and federally funded transportation project with no expectation of a local contribution.” That was not only true, but it was one of the big selling points the MTA used to convince local public officials and others to support the Red Line plan.

HATING HATE CRIMES: Gazette columnist Blair Lee hates designating certain criminal acts as “hate crimes” for two reasons. First, if someone commits a crime, who cares about the criminal’s mind-set? If you kill me, does it matter if you did it because you hate me or because you were stealing my car? The crime is in the act, not the thought. He points out incidents near and far.

MELISSARATOS TAPPED: Stevenson University, the small but rapidly growing Baltimore County school, has just added a big name to its ranks: Aris Melissaratos, a longtime, prominent player in Maryland government and business. He’s been named interim dean of the Brown School of Business and Leadership, a position he said he would like to fill permanently, writes Alissa Gulin for the Daily Record.

O’MALLEY, SIMON ON THE TRAIN: David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” blogs that he and Gov. Martin O’Malley had a chance encounter last week on the Acela returning from New York. O’Malley, who hates The Wire’s depiction of Baltimore and its officials, shared a beer and some common ground on immigration and an Irish band.

CAMPAIGN SIGN THEFT: Campaign signs in Harford County are more prominent than ever. As this year’s general election inches closer, boards bearing the names of all kinds of candidates have been taking over street corners and local lawns. And, some candidates are already complaining of another trend: widespread signage theft, reports Bryna Zumer for the Sun.

EASTERN SHORE EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Maryland’s Eastern Shore is now officially “hooked up” and Gov. Martin O’Malley was surrounded by an entourage of officials when he made a ceremonial call marking the completion of the connection in front of the Talbot County Community Center on Friday afternoon, July 18. Chris Polk of the Easton Star Democrat reports that it’s all about having a state-of-the-art radio system for firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, state highway responders and others who need to be first on the scene in emergencies.

FREDERICK CHARTER CHANGES: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post is urging quicker action on changes to its new charter, opining that a recent FNP story features comments on the new charter from candidates running for executive and County Council. Most candidates agreed that the charter as it currently stands should be given a trial period before the new executive and council start to fiddle with it. We think so, too, but believe that waiting until 2018, as the charter suggests, isn’t the best way to proceed. Why not take a good look at how things are going next summer or fall? By that time, officials will have been some experience under their belts, including an all-important annual budget cycle.