January 28, 2015

State Roundup, January 28, 2015

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POLICE DISCIPLINE: The General Assembly is likely to debate how police officers are disciplined after claims of  using excessive force against suspects. Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and several delegates representing the city are calling for changes in the 40-year-old state law known as the ‘Police Officers Bill of Rights,’ which sets out the disciplinary procedures of police departments in Maryland, according to WYPR-FM’s Sheila Kast. She speaks with Sun reporter Mark Puente about the issue.

CUTS TO CITY SCHOOLS: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told legislators Tuesday that proposed cuts in state education aid would harm the city and its schools, though she stopped short of saying they would lead to layoffs, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

CHARTER SCHOOL REVIEW: Three reports focusing on public charter schools could spur changes to the system, just as newly inaugurated Gov. Larry Hogan takes office with a promise to expand the use of charter schools in Maryland, writes Rebecca Lessner in MarylandReporter.com.

PROCUREMENT REFORM: In his swearing-in speech Comptroller Peter Franchot said that the state’s procurement process needs to be fixed. “We must make drastic improvements to the manner in which we obtain goods and services as a state. This cuts to the heart of what I do as your independent fiscal watchdog – ensuring that we’re getting the best possible deal for your hard-earned tax dollars,” he is quoted as saying in MarylandReporter.com.

ACA & COSTLY DRUGS: The Affordable Care Act is not so affordable for many Marylanders, writes Andrea McDaniels for the Sun. The landmark law that was supposed to make insurance available to hundreds of thousands of people without coverage is costing Marylanders so much more in prescription drug costs that it may deter patients from taking their medicine, the survey by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease found.

FARMING JOE: Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat writes that Gov. Larry Hogan’s pick for the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s future secretary has ties to the Eastern Shore and its farming community. “I’ve got, I guess you would call it, a lifelong history of understanding farming and the business side of it and where we have to go in the future as far as being able to be successful,” said acting-MDA Secretary Joe Bartenfelder.

DEADLY BAY POLLUTION: In an op-ed for the Sun, former state Sen. Gerald Winegrad opines that, besides human health risks, which are reflected in the death of a friend, the failure to restore the Chesapeake Bay to meet minimum Clean Water Act standards has resulted in collapsed or serious declines in important fisheries such as oysters, shad and soft clams.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM  talks with Elaine Lutz, attorney for the Maryland Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Ann Jones, director of Partners for Open Space, and Gerald Winegrad about  Maryland’s environmental and agricultural policy under new Gov. Larry Hogan.

OYSTER THEFTS: Four Eastern Shore watermen were charged this month with taking oysters from protected waters and other environmental violations, reports the Sun’s Colin Campbell.

GETTING SETTLED IN ANNAPOLIS: Lauren Loricchio of the Sun writes that, with the second week of the legislative session under way, District 44B Dels. Charles Sydnor III and Pat Young are settling into their new roles as representatives in Annapolis. The Catonsville residents, two of 58 new delegates who began their terms Jan. 14, both say the transition to the State House has been an exciting one.

HERSHEY MINORITY WHIP: State Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore, was elected as the Senate’s minority whip last week, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. Hershey was elected after a vacancy was left by former minority whip Sen. Chris Shank, R-Washington County, who resigned because he was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan as director of the governor’s office of crime control and prevention.

FOSSELMAN STAYS ON: In a surprising move, Gov. Larry Hogan has allowed and Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman has agreed to continue in his job as deputy Secretary of State, writes David Lublin for the Seventh State blog. Fosselman was an early supporter of former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor.

STATE OF STATE SET: Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who was sworn in last week, is set to give his first “State of the State” address next Wednesday to a joint session of the General Assembly, John Wagner writes in the Post.

OFF SHORE DRILLING OPPOSED: The Obama administration proposes to allow oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast for the first time in over 30 years, drawing fire from environmentalists and many East Coast lawmakers about the potential for spills that could harm the Chesapeake Bay and resorts like Ocean City, reports Timothy Wheeler in the Sun.

CARSON SAID WHAT? Ben Carson is making headlines again for his eyebrow-raising rhetoric, after saying bakeries opposed to same-sex marriage might poison wedding cakes if they are forced to make them for gay couples, writes Kevin Rector for the Sun.

O’MALLEY KEEPS IOWA TIES: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is retaining two operatives who worked in Iowa last year as he continues to weigh a 2016 White House bid. O’Malley’s political action committee has hired Jake Oeth, a Des Moines-based consultant who most recently served as political director for Bruce Braley, the state’s unsuccessful Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate last year, O’Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith confirmed.

AMEDORI FILES COMPLAINT: Former state Del. Carmen Amedori, who filed an ethics complaint against Carroll County Commissioner Dennis Frazier, citing a possible conflict of interest because he works for the school system, said she is prepared to take the issue to court if needed, writes Wiley Hayes for the Carroll County Times.

BEST STATE POLITICAL REPORTERS: “The most under-appreciated reporters in the political world are the scribes covering state and local politics,” writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post in his introduction to The Fix’s 2015 list of the best state political reporters. “They rarely get the attention of their colleagues at the national level but are often covering the very politicians and national trends that come to impact the broad political landscape.” For Maryland, this year’s list includes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com, Erin Cox and John Fritze of the Sun, Jenna Johnson and John Wagner of the Post.

  • Frank_Van

    Congratulation Ken Lazerick. Keep up the balanced reporting and keep control of irrascable, all-over-the-map Rascovar.