July 30, 2015

State Roundup, July 30, 2015

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HOGAN TO SHUT DOWN CITY DETENTION CENTER: Gov. Larry Hogan plans to announce today that he will close the scandal-plagued Baltimore City Male Detention Center, according to a WBAL-TV report. The fortress-like facility, which houses 750 inmates, is the only local jail in the nation to be run by a state. The inmates are expected to be reassigned to nearby detention centers, according to Jennifer Franciotti of WBAL.

DRUG POSSESSION WITH INTENT: Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute remains the No. 1 reason people in Maryland are sentenced to state prison, according to figures presented to a state panel charged with finding ways to reduce incarceration and recidivism. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, which consists of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, senior-level government officials, attorneys and law enforcement representatives, received data Wednesday about who is sentenced to prison, how long they stay and what impact the trends have on the state’s overall prison population.

CUMMINGS PUSHES NAXOLONE PRICE CUT: In an effort to expand the number of local agreements to lower the price of a heroin overdose drug, a pair of Democrats are urging other communities to reach out to a leading manufacturing and request a reduction. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who has been pressing on the issue for weeks, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, wrote the U.S Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties on Wednesday on the issue, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

INSURANCE MERGER EYED FOR JOBS: Maryland leaders see a shake-up among health insurance companies as an opportunity to attract new jobs to the state. Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary R. Michael Gill are strategizing ways to bring more insurance company jobs to Maryland as four of the nation’s leading insurers merge to two companies, Sarah Gantz of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: Some Frederick County representatives are expressing concern that the federal government appears poised to pass yet another short-term transportation funding bill, Kelsi Loos reports for the Frederick News Post. “In the past, Congress funded transportation with a 6-year plan, which made it easier for state and local governments to plan projects,” state Del. Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, wrote in an email. “With these short term authorizations, it has been difficult to properly plan. We need an active, engaged partner in the federal government to address infrastructure needs.”

HAGERSTOWN AIRPORT NO. 2 IN STATE: The Hagerstown Regional Airport ranked second in total jobs and third in business revenues among 35 public-use airports statewide in 2014, according to an economic impact study released by the Maryland Aviation Administration earlier this month, C.J. Lovelace reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

SRB ON RED LINE ALTERNATIVES: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is talking alternatives a month after Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line light rail project. Rawlings-Blake is willing to look at substitute plans for east-west transportation, Rick Seltzer reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. The future of Baltimore’s public transportation network has been up in the air since the end of June when Hogan pulled the plug on the long-planned 14.1-mile Woodlawn-to-Bayview Red Line because of concerns about its $2.9 billion cost.

  • Howard County’s Office of Transportation representatives expressed the possibility of future Bus Rapid Transit ridership in the county during the Public Transportation Board meeting Tuesday evening in Ellicott City. According to Transportation Planner Chris Eatough, BRT systems, operating similarly to a rail system, run on dedicated lines at specified times and include technologies, such as signal preemption, to minimize travel time. The vehicles also stop at stations similar to light rail stations, allowing passengers to exit and board quickly, reducing stop times, Andrew Michaels writes in the Sun.

KILL RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION: The editorial board for the Daily Record is urging state lawmakers to eliminate the religious exemption from requirements for vaccination of school age children, writing Maryland should eliminate the “religious” exemption, which, in practice, is the same as the personal belief exemption abolished in California. Such action would place Maryland in the forefront of states determined to protect the safety and lives of its children.

PENNSYLVANIA NEEDS TO STEP UP: In an op-ed in MarylandReporter.com, Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, writes that after decades of failed Bay restoration efforts, there is now a Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint that includes pollution limits, state-specific plans to achieve those limits with two-year milestones describing the actions each state will take, and the consequences that the EPA said it would impose if the jurisdictions failed to take the actions they promised. Of all the states involved in the Bay effort, Pennsylvania is farthest off-the-mark. The CBF is calling for Pennsylvania to lay out, in the next 30 days, a meaningful plan and timetable for implementation.

CONTINUES CRAB WAR OF WORDS: Laura Vozzella writes of  Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s continuing contention that because Maryland blue crabs are born in Virginia, they are Virginia blue crabs. But more than half of them return to Maryland waters … and so the argument continues.

Hogan dome to dome Mid-atlantic aerial videography and photography

Dome to dome: Mid-Atlantic Aerial Videography and Photography posted this illustration on its Facebook page of the two domes at the Annapolis State House.

GOOD SAMARITAN WAIVER: The Simonaire legislative duo — Sen. Bryan Simonaire and Del. Meagan Simonaire, his daughter — has requested a bill be drafted to protect people from civil liability when damaging a motor vehicle to save a trapped child, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. “With sweltering summer temperatures, no one is safe inside an unattended vehicle, especially a child,” Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, said in a statement. “Providing immunity to everyday concerned citizens will allow fast acting responses to a dangerous situation.”  Simonaire and his daughter are the first father/daughter duo to serve in the legislature at the same time.

NAACP, COUNCIL MEET ON STATUE: On Wednesday, July 29, the Talbot County NAACP branch and the Talbot County Council met in the courthouse at the NAACP’s request to discuss the Talbot Boys statue sitting outside on the lawn, Andrew Sharp writes in the Easton Star Democrat.

MCINTOSH TO BACK VAN HOLLEN: A powerful state lawmaker with close ties to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski will endorse Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Senate on Thursday — the first major endorsement to come from Baltimore in the state’s high-profile political contest. Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore City Democrat and the chair of the Appropriations Committee, will announce she is backing Van Hollen at an event in Keswick, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

BIG BUCKS IN EDWARDS-VAN HOLLEN RACE: With the 2016 primary less than a year away, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen is sitting on more than $3.7 million as he competes for the U.S. Senate seat of the soon-to-be-retired Barbara Mikulski. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that FEC data show that Van Hollen’s main Democratic competitor, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Prince George’s, hasn’t broken $1 million in her first two quarters of fundraising, even with the aid of outside organizations like Act Blue, a political action committee that sends money to progressive candidates.

POLS TURN OUT TO FETE RESTAURATEUR: Mark Pappas, the founder of the iconic Pappas Restaurant, this week is celebrating his 55th anniversary in the restaurant business. Pappas, 83, was to be feted last night at his Cockeysville restaurant by a slew of government officials, friends and family for a private celebration in which a proclamation from Gov. Larry Hogan will be read. John-John Williams of the Sun reports that government officials scheduled to attend include Sen. Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County councilmen Wade Kach and David Marks.

INDIAN HEAD FACILITY SAFE FROM CLOSURE FOR NOW: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin had some good news for Charles County, and especially Indian Head, at a meeting of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce’s Military Alliance Council on Monday morning: the future of Naval Support Facility Indian Head is secure for now, Rebecca Barnabi writes in the Cecil Whig.

  • charlie hayward

    smart move that will save big money over time; although savings in the next year or two will likely be insignificant. if hogan is correct that detention capacity at this facility is excess to that needed, then he and taxpayers have every reason to be angry.