July 28, 2014

State Roundup, July 28, 2014

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IMMIGRANT MINORS: The Washington region’s robust Central American community has taken in a relatively large percentage of the tens of thousands of children who have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, federal statistics show. Since January, about 4,600 children have been sent to live temporarily with family or guardians in Virginia, Maryland and the District, amid a historic wave of illegal immigration from Central America, Antonio Olivio reports for the Post.

SENT OUT OF STATE: State Sen. Catherine Pugh writes, in an op-ed for the Sun, “For years I have been a strong advocate for Maryland’s most vulnerable people, especially for our youth. In 2013, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services … report noted that for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, 4,017 girls and boys were committed to residential facilities statewide. Where Maryland had gaps in services, we sent 300 children to out-of-state facilities in 13 states, with the closest being Virginia and others going as far away as Utah and Arizona … 95 percent were African-American or Latino. These are astonishing numbers and represent a problem: Maryland uses incarceration and residential placement for youth too much.”

SSA DATA: John Fritze of the Sun reports that two weeks after the Social Security Administration received a report criticizing management for a dysfunctional, $300 million computer system, agency officials provided only a cursory summary of the findings at a meeting of a committee overseeing the project, documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun show.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Proposed rules for Maryland’s nascent medical marijuana system are drawing objections from a leading advocate, who says the regulations could discourage doctors from participation, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. Del. Dan Morhaim, one of the chief sponsors of the legislation, criticized the draft regulations for requiring training and continued education in the medical use of marijuana for physicians who want to help their patients access the drug.

PENSION PERFORMANCE: Maryland’s pension system for state employees and teachers had another strong investment performance for the fiscal year that ended June 30 earning 14.37%, bringing the value of the portfolio to $45.4 billion, a gain of more than $5 billion, MarylandReporter.com is reporting.

PETROUKA & THE GOP: John Wagner of the Post reports that Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan is seeking to distance himself from a member of his party running for the Anne Arundel County Council who has ties to a group that advocates for Southern states to secede from the nation. Hogan spokesman Adam Dubitsky said that Hogan “absolutely disavows” the candidacy of Michael Peroutka, who won the GOP primary last month in Anne Arundel’s council District 5 by 38 votes.

CRAB LABELING: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski joined with Virginia lawmakers on Friday in requesting the Obama administration step up enforcement of seafood processors that are fraudulently labeling imported crab meat as a product of the Chesapeake Bay, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

CRAB CRISIS: Former sports writer Angus Phillips, in a column for the Post, writes that “Two years ago, you could pretty much bank on it: Leave the dock at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and be back by 9 with a bushel or so of scrappy male crabs. Then it was just a matter of hooking up the cooker, herding the crabs into the steamer and sitting back for the 25 minutes or so it takes to turn them red and scrumptious.” Then the bottom fell out. Phillips advocates a temporary two-year ban on all crabbing.

IGNORING W. MD: On a campaign stop at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown on Saturday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney said he believes Western Maryland gets overlooked by the state government in Annapolis. The first-term Democrat cited Gov. Martin O’Malley’s failure to request federal aid for the victims of last month’s Clear Spring flood as an example, reports Dan Dearth for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

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HOGAN HAS A FAIR TIME: Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan arrived at the Cecil County Fair on Friday night in his campaign bus in time to meet 4-Hers, farmers and ordinary fairgoers before watching part of the annual livestock auction, Cheryl Mattix reports in the Cecil Whig.

ENOUGH ALREADY: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post writes that it has supported in principle and practice the use of speed cameras ever since they were authorized by the Maryland General Assembly. With a request for eight more in the city of Frederick, the board writes that, “While we support the use of these cameras as public safety devices, we wonder when enough is enough. If any additional speed cameras are to be established in the city, officials should produce valid reasons for doing so.”

BOOZE NEWS IN WORCESTER: Worcester County liquor officials say they hope to find new ways to compete in an open market even as Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he hopes the county-controlled sale of  distilled spirits goes the way of the dinosaur, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. New laws that went into effect July 1 open the door for private distributors to sell hard liquor directly to more than 200 bars and restaurants in the seaside county that is home to Ocean City.

SEEKING TRANSPARENCY: When Baltimore County wanted to put a water tower in a wooded area of Reisterstown, residents knew nothing of the plan until they spotted surveyors on the property, George Harman recalls. Alison Knezevich reports that the community eventually got the project scrapped. But Harman, a Republican, says such lack of consultation with residents is part of what’s wrong with the county administration led by Kevin Kamenetz. The Reisterstown community leader is trying to unseat the Democratic county executive in the November election, saying he can run a more transparent local government.