June 4, 2015

State Roundup, June 4, 2015

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BPW DEFERS JUVIE CONTRACT: The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to defer action on nearly $300 million in contracts submitted by the state Department of Juvenile Services after raising questions about the size of the contracts and remarking on the state’s need to rein in spending. Comptroller Peter Franchot — who sits on the three-member panel, which reviews all major state expenditures — criticized the agency for seeking to spend $297 million to provide services to 860 children, or about $346,000 per child, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

  • Michael A. DiBattista, chief financial officer for the Department of Juvenile Services, told the board that per-child cost won’t exceed $110,000 but that the agency builds in room for additional children or services — as much as two-thirds more than actual expenses, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record. The state pays providers based on the number of days of service provided to children that the agency is responsible for, he said.
With Gov. Hogan in Asia, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, center, chairs the Board of Public Works for the first time flanked by State Treasurer Nancy Kopp  and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Photo by MarylandReporter.com

With Gov. Hogan in Asia, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, center, chairs the Board of Public Works for the first time flanked by State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Photo by MarylandReporter.com

CIAO, HOLLYWOOD: Jim Briggs of the Baltimore Business Journal, in a piece that sounds like commentary but is under the header “News,” derides handouts that states use to lure film productions, saying “it’s one thing to award incentives to a major company such as McCormick & Co. Inc. It’s a lot harder to move a global spicemaking operation than it is to move some cameras and costumes and build a new sound stage.”

  • The editorial board for the Sun talks TV and tax credits in its latest piece on the doings in Annapolis, focussing on Maryland’s two TV shows. “VEEP” and “House of Cards” could be pulling up stakes for greener pastures — the well-heeled but drought stricken Californ-I-A. Not nearly as snarky as we are this morning, the editorial explains a recent study that says that so-called tax credits to keep such productions in-state do little to create long term jobs and commitment from corporations. Whatever the allure of the lens may be, Gov. Hogan is urged to have less-star struck approach than his predecessor.

NO FRACKING ALLOWED, FOR NOW: Sarah Fleischman of the St. Mary’s Enterprise writes that Maryland is now in a two-year fracking moratorium, as Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the bill to pass without his signature. This past legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the bill with veto-proof majorities in both houses. The House of Delegates passed the bill 103-33 and the Senate passed it 45-2. Friday was Hogan’s deadline to veto the bill.

RX POT FACTORY FOR EASTON? A group that specializes in cultivating marijuana for health benefits seeks to set up a medical marijuana growing facility in Easton. Maryland’s medical marijuana laws were updated in 2014 through state legislation that allows commercial entities to grow and dispense medical cannabis, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat.

COSTLY PUBLIC INFORMATION: The editorial board for the Gazette writes that a battle over public information in Chevy Chase could be a good test of progress when it comes to the public’s right to know in Maryland. Action Committee for Transit, a group in favor of the Purple Line light-rail project, is pressing the town for records of its anti-Purple Line advocacy. In multiple requests, the group and activist Benjamin Ross of Bethesda have asked for documents showing how the town has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists and public relations firms to stop the project. The town has replied by saying the work of fulfilling the requests “has been very time consuming and expensive.”

BREAKING THE CYCLE: In 2010, of those drug addicts in prison receiving treatment in Washington County, less than 50% continued their treatment upon release. However, four years after beginning program to inject pre-release prisoners with a drug that blocks opioid effects, 92% continued the treatment. Now, Washington County’s successful re-entry program is being emulated by seven other counties whose officials hope to reduce the amount of opiate-related recidivism in Maryland’s jail system. Katelyn Newman writes the story in the Daily Record.

  • The editorial board for the Carroll County Times is touting a new program aimed at drug addicts and crime recidivism. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention has awarded $500,000 to Carroll County and seven other jurisdictions, it writes. The funds would give those nearing release from jail an opportunity to volunteer for treatment with naltrexone, a non-narcotic, nonaddictive drug that, once injected, blocks the effects of opioid drugs, taking away the euphoric effects of the drug while tamping down the cravings addicts often experience.

A WIN NOW, LONG DELAYED: Tom Horton, in a commentary in MarylandReporter.com, writes that the Chesapeake Bay just got an important win, with Maryland’s agreement to end the spreading of poultry manure across sections of its Eastern Shore. Everyone should be happy about that. But no one should be satisfied. We could have had this win a decade ago. Understanding why we didn’t is important for ensuring the current agreement works.

MATTHEWS JUMPS INTO FRAY: Touting her background as a “working mom” and “progressive business leader,” Kathleen Matthews entered the race for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District on Wednesday — an announcement that could shake up the contest for the open seat. she joins Sen. Jamie Raskin, Dels. Kumar Barve and Ana Sol Gutierrez as well as former White House aide Will Jawando in the race for the Democratic nomination. The seat is being left open by incumbent Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Senate, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

EDWARDS BLASTS VAN HOLLEN: Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate criticized Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday for not signing a letter opposed to Medicare cuts included in a trade bill pending in Congress, her latest effort to draw a distinction with him in the state’s high-profile contest, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

O’MALLEY PAC TV ADS: A super PAC supporting Democrat Martin O’Malley’s presidential bid is preparing to air television ads in Iowa highlighting the former Maryland governor’s willingness to stand up to Wall Street “bullies,” John Wagner is reporting in the Sun.

O’MALLEY WOOS LATINO VOTE: The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invited Martin O’Malley to a question-and-answer forum on Wednesday. The group wants to see how O’Malley contrasts himself with his Democratic primary opponents, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Dave Collins reports for WBAL-TV.  “I think we need to speak to immigration reform as a national economic priority, as a national security priority,” O’Malley said.

SCHUH WANTS ANNUAL TAX CUTS: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said Wednesday he wants to pass one significant tax or fee reduction in each year of his term, starting with the 3% property tax now before the County Council, Cindy Huang of the Annapolis Capital reports. “If we chip just away at it… over time, those small incremental changes in tax and fee policy will add up to something substantial and will really improve the business climate in this county,” Schuh said.