September 17, 2014

State Roundup, September 17, 2014

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LIMITED HEALTH EXCHANGE ACCESS: Maryland officials want to limit access to the state’s new health insurance Web site when it launches in November so that any glitches can be worked out and the system won’t be overwhelmed with requests, reports Jenna Johnson of the Post. The state’s staggered approach is different from what will happen elsewhere in the country on Nov. 15, the beginning of the second enrollment period for health insurance made possible by the federal Affordable Care Act.

GERRYMANDER MEANDER: Adventure athletes have raced across Arctic ice and Sahara sands. Now runners aim to conquer another extreme: Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, write Tim Prudente for the Annapolis Capital. About 20 people will run a relay from Baltimore to Annapolis, staying within the district. A direct course would be about 35 miles and take a day. Their course within the meandering district will be about 225 miles and take three days.

POLICY INSTITUTE REPORT CARD: With less than two months until Marylanders vote on Election Day, the Maryland Public Policy Institute has released a comprehensive report card on the Maryland General Assembly’s most recent legislative session, which concluded in April. The report is the only one of its kind to grade the entire Maryland General Assembly on their policy decisions during the session, Marc Kilmer and John J. Walters write in the the Maryland Public Policy Institute.

CONSUMER SCORECARD: A consumer advocacy group is giving state lawmakers high scores for passing laws in the 2014 General Assembly session that raise the minimum wage and reduce the impact of foreclosures. The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, a nonprofit whose mission includes advancing fairness and justice for consumers, also released four-year scores that depicted state lawmakers as generally favorable to consumer issues. Only nine of 47 senators and 46 of 141 delegates got four-year scores lower than 80%, writes Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com.

Frederick Douglass portrait

This portrait of Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist born a slave in Talbot County, was hung Monday in Government House, the governor’s residence in Annapolis.

BROWN AD ATTACKS HOGAN: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown on Tuesday aired his first television ads of the fall election in the Washington market, debuting with a negative spot that goes after his Republican opponent on abortion and gun control, writes John Wagner for the Post.

DEFINING HOGAN: Larry Hogan’s entire platform, in so far as he has described it, is to cut spending and taxes and to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses — and he hasn’t been particularly specific about any of that, opines the editorial board for the Sun, which goes on to suggest that Hogan needs to realize that if he doesn’t clearly define his positions on the wide range of issues that matter to Marylanders, the Brown campaign is going to do it for him, and in the most unflattering terms possible.

O’MALLEY TOUTS CITISTAT IN LONDON: Gov. Martin O’Malley is heading to London this week to tout the CitiStat program he developed as Baltimore’s mayor, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. O’Malley on Tuesday was en route to England for what organizers described as an invitation-only discussion Wednesday with 25 policy experts, local government officials and civil servants eager to know how he used data to support economic growth in Baltimore.

SKILLED AT SELFIES: Jenna Johnson of the Post writes about Gov. Martin O’Malley’s growing skill at taking selfies on the campaign trail, at public events, fundraising, and well, just about everywhere.

NATIONAL RACIAL PROFILING BILL: Members of civil rights organizations met in Washington on Tuesday to discuss a strategy for passing the End Racial Profiling Act, a bill that lays out a national, comprehensive approach to end racial discrimination by the nation’s law enforcement.The meeting was convened by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who introduced the bill in May 2013, only to watch it die in a gridlocked Congress. The Democratic senator reintroduced the bill last week in the wake of the controversial death of Michael Brown in Missouri in August, according to a CNS report in the Daily Record.

NO VISION ON IMMIGRATION: In an op-ed for MarylandReporter.com, Richard Douglas addresses the immigration debate, writing that to “Americans who continue in 2014 to harbor visions of mass deportations of undocumented aliens, I would say that it is time to come to grips with reality. Mass deportations are not going to happen.” One problem Americans have in the whole debate is that within the federal government, there is a lack of a unifying vision on the issue, he writes.

BIDEN NOMINATES HARRIS: Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris is no fan of the Obama administration, but he has at least one reason to be happy with Vice President Joe Biden. Harris’ daughter, Jessica, received a highly competitive vice presidential nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis this year, Harris’ staff confirmed Tuesday, although she decided to go to Notre Dame on a track scholarship, Nicole Gaudiano writes for the Salisbury Daily Times.

STORMWATER FEE IN FREDERICK: Frederick County’s candidates for county executive and council view the stormwater fee through very different lenses, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

SCHUH-JOHNSON FORUM: Republican Anne Arundel County executive nominee Steve Schuh and Democrat George Johnson met Tuesday for one of their first official candidate forums of the campaign season before dozens of residents in Galesville, according to the Annapolis Capital.

HO CO HOPEFUL ISSUES AGING PLATFORM: Democratic Howard County executive candidate Courtney Watson released her third policy platform on Monday, a multi-point plan on aging and providing support for the county’s senior citizens, reports Amanda Yeager for the Sun. The platform is the second released by Watson’s campaign in less than a week. The County Council member unveiled a list of economic priorities on Thursday to coincide with her participation in a Chamber of Commerce-hosted debate against opponent Allan Kittleman, a Republican state senator.

EXEC RACE IN HOWARD: Howard County will elect a new executive in November to replace Democrat Ken Ulman. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Amanda Yeager of the Howard County Times talk about the two well-known candidates running for the office and why the race has taken a strident tone.

MO CO PUBLIC FINANCING: A Montgomery County Council committee began marking up a potentially groundbreaking bill that would establish a partial system of public campaign finance by approving a series of amendments Monday afternoon, including one that drew serious protest from the measure’s sponsor, council member Phil Andrews, reports Bill Turque for the Post.

RIFKIN HEADS LEGAL GROUP: The members of SCG Legal, a worldwide network of law firms, have elected Maryland attorney Alan Rifkin chairman of its Board of Directors.  Rifkin is managing partner of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC, a major lobbying firm with offices in Annapolis, Baltimore and Bethesda.  SCG Legal was founded in 1989 by the former governors of 17 states to help clients identify local counsel worldwide.  SCG Legal includes a member firm in every state and in over 80 countries worldwide.