State Roundup, August 28, 2015

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BUYING LEAD PAINT SETTLEMENTS: In a stunning report on what happens to some lead paint settlement funds, Terrence McCoy of the Post writes that companies buy lead paint victims’ long-term structured settlements — some worth a quarter of a million dollars and more over the life of the settlement — for a fraction of what they are worth. While it gives the victims a one-time cash payout, it leaves them without the safety net that they thought they were guaranteed. There are state laws to protect the long-term settlements, but advocates for lead paint victims say they are too weak.

LONG-TERM SETTLEMENTS: The editorial board for the Sun writes that the enormity of lead’s ill effects — and their economic consequences for victims —  prompted the Maryland Court of Appeals four years ago to throw out strict liability caps in many lead poisoning cases. And it is the very nature of those effects that has prompted many of the judgments and settlements entered in lead poisoning cases to be paid not at once but over the course of a victim’s lifetime.

REDISTRICTING REFORM PANEL MEETS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s 11-member  Redistricting Reform Commission, created on Aug. 6 by executive order, met for first time near the State House Thursday where they outlined their first steps to reform the process of drawing Maryland’s congressional and legislative district lines, reports Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com.

CORRECTIONS EMPLOYEE CHARGES: More than 250 Maryland corrections employees have been arrested since 2013 on charges including assault, looting, driving under the influence and having sexual relations with inmates, state officials said Thursday. Josh Hicks of the Post reports that a letter from Robert Thomas, of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said the employees worked in facilities across the state, “from Cumberland to the lower shore.”

TOUR OF EMPTY JAIL: The dank, dirty cells of the men’s detention center at the Baltimore City jail are empty now. All that remain are the metal bed frames for the bunk beds, the metal toilets and sinks. Beige paint has been scraped off the cinderblock walls in places, revealing at least three other colors underneath. A sliver of light shines from a small crevice near the ceiling of each 6-by-8-foot enclosure. On Thursday, state Corrections Secretary Stephen T. Moyer provided a tour of the shuttered facility, offering a rare glimpse of the conditions that men who were awaiting trial experienced, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes.

TAX PROGRAM UPDATES STALLED: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that antiquated tax incentive programs for businesses have not been updated or improved for fear of what would happen once the legislature got involved, according to one top official at the Department of Business and Economic Development.

NEW MTA, MVA CHIEFS: The Hogan administration has announced that Milton Chaffee has been appointed executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority and Christine Nizer has been named administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, according to a report in the Daily Record.

HOGAN HEADS FOR CHEMO ROUND 4: Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to go back to the hospital Friday for his fourth round of chemotherapy, according to his office, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. Hogan, who has been receiving treatment for cancer at three-week intervals, is expected to stay in till Tuesday. In his previous stays at University of Maryland hospital, he has gone through five-day cycles of 24-hour chemo to treat his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

WORKING FAMILIES PROTEST CHRISTIE EVENT: While Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came together to raise money for Christie’s presidential campaign in Annapolis on Thursday, protesters called for Hogan to avoid following in the New Jersey governor’s footsteps. Members of Working Families — a progressive advocacy group that focuses on legislation it believes benefits working families, such as requiring paid sick days for employees — held signs decrying Christie’s policies and urging Hogan to avoid similar stances, writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.

HOGAN AT CHRISTIE FUND-RAISER: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a big-ticket fundraiser for his presidential campaign in Annapolis Thursday evening with Gov. Larry Hogan as his headline guest. It was Christie’s first Maryland fundraiser since he announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

7 NOW IN CITY MAYOR’S RACE: Two more candidates have filed to run for mayor of Baltimore City, bringing the number of candidates in the race to seven. Richard Black, an accountant, filed this week to run as a Democrat. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that Black’s website says his campaign will focus on “reducing the tax burden for our hardworking taxpayers, streamlining government, and pushing for reforms that will increase opportunity and financial prosperity for all.” Collins Otonna, an independent, also filed to run this week. Otonna will need to gather more than 4,000 signatures from registered Baltimore voters to get on the ballot.

KENT TESTS COP BODY CAMS: Law enforcement agencies in Kent County have begun to test body cameras as a way to ensure transparency between their officers and the public, Dorian Mitchell writes for the Kent County News.

YUMI HOGAN HONORED: Maryland’s Asian Sister States program, along with representatives of the ambassadors of China, Korea and Japan, honored First Lady Yumi Hogan at a welcome reception Thursday hosted by UMBC’s Asian Studies Program. Mrs. Hogan, a native of South Korea, is the first Asian American to serve as a state’s first lady in the country.