August 26, 2014

State Roundup, August 26, 2014

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PHASING IN HEALTH EXCHANGE:  Alissa Gulin of the Daily Record reports that state officials have been saying for months that Marylanders will be able to shop for insurance on the refurbished health exchange by Nov. 15 when open enrollment begins. That might not be entirely true. State officials appear to have been considering the possibility of a soft launch, meaning the new version of Maryland Health Connection would be unveiled in stages rather than all at once.

PRE-K EDUCATION: If kindergarten is the new first grade, what does that make pre-kindergarten? In many ways, kindergarten. Beginning this week, students as young as 3 will walk into pre-K classrooms, while children as young as 4 will find their new kindergarten classrooms, writes Kelcie Pegler for the Annapolis Capital. Arundel schools Superintendent George Arlotto has said early education is one piece of solving the achievement gap between students who excel and others who fall behind.

GUN VIOLENCE DOWN: Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, writes in MarylandReporter.com that statewide, gun deaths have gone down 23% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. Surely, the Baltimore City Police Department’s new policing policies contributed to this decline in gun deaths. But, at Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence they also believe that the Firearms Safety Act of 2013 played an important part in this progress.

BIKE SAFETY: Anita Heygster, a former member of the Annapolis Capital editorial board, in a guest column for that paper, writes that there are things that everyone — including the state legislature, drivers, bicyclists and the Motor Vehicle Administration — can do to cut down on bike-car collisions.

CITY CASINO OPENS TONIGHT: Following two days of controlled demonstrations, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore won state regulators’ approval Monday to open as scheduled Tuesday night, writes Jeff Barker in the Sun.

STEAM PIPE POLITICS: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city had explored “all options” to pay for relocating a steam line at Horseshoe Casino before settling on the use of $3 million in impact funds earmarked for South Baltimore neighborhoods.But she failed to mention that the street under which the line runs is owned by Caesars Entertainment, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

BIDEN TO AID BROWN: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown will get some fundraising help Tuesday from Vice President Joe Biden, John Wagner is reporting in the Post.

MITCHELL WON’T RUN FOR COUNCIL: Ending weeks of speculation, state Del. Keiffer Mitchell said Monday he will not seek to replace Baltimore City Councilman William Cole, who is leaving the council to run Baltimore’s economic development corporation, Luke Broadwater is reporting in the Sun.

THIS AND THAT: As summer winds down, Gazette columnist Blair Lee offers up opinions on issues of note including the Washington Redskins, the salvation of Baltimore City Community College and pole dancing and rents in Ocean City.

O’MALLEY SENDS OUT CAMPAIGN STAFFERS: Gov. Martin O’Malley is preparing to dispatch more than two dozen campaign staffers to other states with competitive elections this year, including Iowa and New Hampshire, in his latest move consistent with someone gearing up to run for president, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

POLITICS ON THE BIG SCREEN: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland offers the “celluloid edition” of his column by looking into what he considers the American best political movies ever made.