August 7, 2014

State Roundup, August 7, 2014

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PREVENTABLE HOSPITALIZATIONS DOWN: Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday touted a 11.5% decrease in the rate of “preventable hospitalizations” in Maryland between 2011 and 2013, a trend he said is saving health-care costs and is the result of some innovative new programs, reports John Wagner for the Post.

PSC RULES ON UBER: The Maryland Public Service Commission ruled Wednesday that Uber is a common carrier like other for-hire car services, a decision that the company opposed, saying it threatened its business model. Yet the commission also ordered its staff to begin crafting new rules for such for-hire companies, saying it recognizes “that many industry changes and technological advances have occurred since these regulations were adopted, including the everyday use of the Internet,” reports Kevin Rector for the Sun.

O’MALLEY VISITS FLOODED AREA: Gov. Martin O’Malley took a whirlwind tour of Washington County Wednesday afternoon, visiting downtown Hagerstown and the flood-affected areas of Clear Spring, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. O’Malley said that the state will soon be announcing aid to help residents who were displaced by the floods.

GAMBLING IN MARYLAND PART 3: In the third of a four-day series by Capital News Service on the impact of state gaming, MarylandReporter.com carries a story about a young poker player from Baltimore who had to move back in with his parents after his casino poker playing left him unable to pay his rent. Increased gambling addiction is one of the downsides of the opening of more Maryland casinos.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland writes that of the nearly 290,000 students enrolled in higher education institutions in Maryland as of last fall, almost 140,000 attended community colleges. That’s 48% of the total. For many aspiring students, community colleges provide the most affordable and most supportive access to higher education. Yet, Maryland’s 16 community colleges are, in many respects, a hidden treasure.

CRABMEAT CAMPAIGN: Gov. Martin O’Malley stopped by Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery on Wednesday afternoon to accept a $10,270 donation from the company for the statewide True Blue campaign, which is a Department of Natural Resources marketing initiative designed to promote Maryland crabmeat by permitting certified restaurants to use a special logo on their menus and products, Paige Jones reports for the Frederick News Post.

NFL WEAK ON VIOLENCE: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post sides with Maryland’s congressional delegation in seeking a stronger response from the NFL over Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice two-week suspension for violence against his now-wife. The board quotes U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who said, “The little to no punishment many abusers receive only strengthens that stigma and further endangers victims.”

OCTOBER TV DEBATE SET: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan have agreed to an hourlong televised debate in early October, reaching a deal after more than a month of uncertainty about when — and whether — the pair would face off. They have agreed to an Oct. 7 debate hosted by The Baltimore Sun and WJZ-TV, which will be taped in the morning and aired statewide that night.

SIERRA CLUB BACKS BROWN: The Sierra Club, one of Maryland’s largest environmental groups, on Wednesday threw its support behind Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the race for governor, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

CIVIL RIGHTS AP APPOINTMENT: The AP is reporting on the WJZ-TV website that Gov. Martin O’Malley has appointed Alvin Gillard to be executive director of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.

PENSION OVERHAUL UPHELD: A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s overhaul of Baltimore’s police and fire pension system, but left open avenues for the unions to keep fighting. “I’m certainly pleased with the court’s ruling,” Rawlings-Blake said of the decision. City officials say it cut about $400 million in pension costs by reducing benefits, raising the retirement age and requiring higher contributions from workers, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.