State Roundup, May 17, 2016

Print More

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY BILL PUSHED: Two leading General Assembly Democrats, expressing concern that Gov. Larry Hogan might be planning to veto a bill intended to make college more affordable, urged him Monday to sign the legislation without delay, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. Del. Adrienne Jones, speaker pro tem of the House of Delegates, and Sen. Richard Madaleno, vice chairman of the Budget & Taxation Committee, held a news conference outside the State House in Annapolis to call for the bill’s approval.

CITY VOTE CHECK BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that elections workers from across the region descended Monday on Baltimore City to launch a precinct-level review of the city’s primary — days after the state took the unusual step of ordering the results decertified amid irregularities. The work began hidden from public view, drawing criticism. Workers told members of the public — including several reporters — they were not welcome inside to observe the process. State election administrator Linda H. Lamone said the public wasn’t allowed into the warehouse because it has private voter and election information inside.

BOBBY NEALL, NO AGENT OF CHANGE: After all the plaudits and praise directed toward Bobby Neall as Gov. Larry Hogan’s choice to streamline and revamp state government, Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland deflates that happy balloon with a few interesting observations.

LYME TEST DISCLOSURE: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post applauds a bill signed into law last week by Gov. Larry Hogan that will provide a written notice to patients at the time that blood is drawn regarding the accuracy of tests for Lyme disease. The bill, which takes effect Oct. 1, was co-sponsored by Frederick County Dels. Karen Lewis Young and Kathy Afzali  and cross-filed by Sen. Ron Young.  What you might not know — and what most doctors have known for years — is that many of these tests are ineffective during the early infection period.

SCHOOLS OK WITH BATHROOM DIRECTIVE: Three Maryland school board leaders say that while the Obama administration directive to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity is new, the issue is not, and schools have been handling it, Dick Uliano of WTOP-AM reports. “Basically our schools, high schools more than middle schools, have been dealing with this on a low-key, case-by-case basis,” said Montgomery County School Board President Michael Durso.

IMPROVED, NOT REDUCED TESTING: The Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments in Public Schools is considering providing state funds for technology grants for some school districts and testing coordinators at all high schools. A lot of the findings discussed at a meeting Monday focused on improving testing, rather than reducing it. As far as actually reducing the number of tests students take, the commission only discussed one possible solution, writes Rachel Bluth in MarylandReporter.com.

POCKETS WITHOUT INSURANCE: It’s an unusual problem: The more people in rural areas Mark Romaninsky and his team help sign up for health insurance, the more difficult it becomes to find people who still need to enroll, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Daily Record.  As program director for  a nonprofit that serves as one of several “connectors” for Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, Romaninsky and his team of “navigators” focus on the upper and middle Eastern Shore, reaching out to churches, small businesses, local workforce investment boards, “anywhere we can spread the word,” he said.

CITY HOUSE DELEGATION TARGETS OPIOID ABUSE: John Fritze of the Sun writes that members of Baltimore City’s congressional delegation on Monday touted a package of bills passed recently by the House of Representatives intended to address the national opioid abuse epidemic, but they also pointed to the shortcomings of that legislation — including a lack of funding. Rep. John Sarbanes was the original sponsor of one of the House-passed bills. His proposal would encourage and train doctors to prescribe overdose reversal drugs, such as Naloxone, when they prescribe pain medication and other opioids.

SENATE CONFIRMS DISTRICT JUDGE: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that the U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Paula Xinis to be a judge on the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. The vote was 53-35. Xinis will succeed Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, who took senior status in October 2014. Xinis’ confirmation vote occurred eight months after the Senate Judiciary Committee gave her a favorable recommendation.

OBAMA EYES CITY FOR YOUTH JOBS: Baltimore City is one of 16 cities the Obama administration is targeting to increase the number of young people hired for summer jobs at federal workplaces, the White House said Monday. John Fritze of the Sun reports that the “summer impact hub” designation means City Hall will work more closely with federal officials to help establish summer job work sites with federal agencies and contractors in the region. The White House did not provide measurable goals associated with the program.

SUPREMES DECLINE TO HEAR NUNS’ BIRTH CONTROL CASE: The Supreme Court declined Monday to rule on whether the Obama administration infringed on the rights of faith-based groups, including a global order of Roman Catholic nuns with U.S. headquarters in Baltimore County, by requiring them to arrange for birth control coverage for their employees. Instead, the justices asked lower federal courts to seek a compromise on several combined cases, including one filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, of Catonsville. And both sides touted it as a victory, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

EDITOR AWAY: Editor Len Lazarick is away. If there is a problem with roundup or the newsletter, contact roundup editor Cynthia Prairie at cynthiaprairie@gmail.com; if there is a problem with the website or one of the stories published there contact Meg Tully at megctully@gmail.com.