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Published on August 20th, 2014 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, August 20, 2014

HEALTH WEBSITE REBUILD.: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is confident that its rapid rebuilding of the state’s health insurance Web site is progressing as planned and will be ready before the next enrollment period begins in November, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

CARING FOR CHILDREN: A new audit has found that some foster children were placed in the care of relatives with a history of alleged abuse or neglect because Maryland’s social services agency did not properly monitor local agencies, writes Doug Donovan for the Sun.

STARTING SCHOOL LATER: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the economic effects of starting school after Labor Day may be a matter of debate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, according to two Maryland economists. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is spearheading an effort to change the start date of school in Maryland, said a post-Labor-day start would result in more than $74 million in direct economic impact in Maryland and $8 million in additional state tax revenue.

COST OF BAIL HEARINGS: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Christopher Connelly talk about the new costs associated with providing lawyers to defendants at initial bail hearings and why the General Assembly may have put counties in a difficult financial position.

GUNS & THE MENTALLY ILL: While the National Instant Criminal Background Check System remains the only square inch of compromise between the nation’s divided gun camps, the costly federal program is failing to keep guns away from the dangerously mentally ill, according to Part 2 of the News 21 series in MarylandReporter.com.

PUNISHING CONSERVATION: Michael Collins, columnist for the Annapolis Capital, outlines the various ways that government is punishing — and taxing — individuals who conserve water or gas, saying that it is true that no good deed goes unpunished.

BIKE SAFETY EDUCATION: Following the automobile death of a bicyclist, the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that while the biking community and at least one local prosecutor hope to get the state legislature to take another look at the law on criminal negligence, bike safety education may trump stiffer state penalties.

COLLECTING COMPTROLLERS: Comptroller Peter Franchot is one step closer to collecting a portrait of every Maryland comptroller who preceded him in office. Franchot visited the Museum of Rural Life in Denton on Wednesday, Aug. 13, to officially accept a portrait of Robert John Jump, a Caroline County native who served as the state’s ninth comptroller from 1864 to 1867, writes Abby Andrews for the Easton Star Democrat.

HOGAN EXPANDS PENSION TAX PLAN: Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan told residents of a retirement community Tuesday night that he wants to eliminate all state income taxes on pensions before the end of his administration, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun. Hogan unveiled the proposal in response to a question from a resident, one of about 500 people who attended a gubernatorial forum at Charlestown in Baltimore County, where the GOP nominee and Democratic rival Anthony G. Brown spoke. A short video of the event tops the story.

HOGAN EYES OTHER STATES IN BAY CLEANUP: Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan on Tuesday unveiled a new Web ad in which he vows he would clean up the Chesapeake Bay by getting tough on other states contributing to pollution in Maryland, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.

UM GUARANTEES ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: Don Markus of the Sun reports that University of Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson announced Tuesday that athletes in all of the school’s sports will be able to return to school if they left early with their scholarships intact as long as they left the university in good academic and social standing.

O’MALLEY PUSHES SOC SEC FUNDING: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, teamed up Tuesday with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a fellow Democrat who is running for reelection this year in New Hampshire, to solicit names for an online petition asking Congress not to cut Social Security, writes John Wagner of the Post.

YOUNG, GARDNER FACE OFF: In what is expected to be a hard-fought campaign for Frederick County executive, opponents Blaine Young and Jan Gardner kicked off their first forum in a somewhat surprising way, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

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