State Roundup, July 1, 2016

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PRISON OFFICERS CLAIM UNDERSTAFFING: The union that represents Maryland correctional officers demanded Thursday that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) increase efforts to fill staff vacancies at state prisons, saying the facilities are short about 1,000 employees, Josh Hicks reports for the Post.

DEMS WANT $80M RELEASED: Democrats who control Maryland’s legislature are hoping Republican Gov. Larry Hogan approves spending $80 million that lawmakers have fenced off for education, health care and public safety. But a Hogan spokesman says the governor hasn’t decided yet due to economic uncertainties. The money could be released at the start of the new fiscal year today, according to an AP story at WJZ-TV.

GUN GROUP TO MONITOR GUN BOARD: The president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence is doing something she has never done before: organizing volunteers to monitor the state’s Handgun Review Permit Board. Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post that the board, which hears appeals from people who have been denied gun permits, is one of at least three in the state that oversees hot-button issues and now has a majority of its members appointed by first-term Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican in a mostly Democratic state.

AUDIT QUESTIONS MSDE ON SPENDING, BACKGROUND CHECKS: The Office of Legislative Auditor’s report released Tuesday raised issues across the state Department of Education including improper handling of checks, spending that didn’t follow procurement guidelines, faults the business office for improperly handling funds and checks; and states MSDE neglected to report possible criminal or unethical activity of its employees for possible prosecution, reports Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com.

STATE WON’T OUST 3 SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS: Maryland officials have denied community requests to remove three school board members in an Eastern Shore county following an uproar over the ousting of a popular superintendent. Donna St. George of the Post reports that in three opinions announced late Tuesday, the State Board of Education found that the requests — from more than 30 Queen Anne’s County residents — were not factually or legally sufficient to warrant removal of the board’s relatively new majority. By law, such action may be taken for such reasons as immorality, misconduct in office, incompetence and willful neglect of duty.

DHMH SEEKS FEDERAL TREATMENT FUNDS: The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is asking the federal government for new funding to cover residential drug treatment at small community facilities and private institutions, such as Sheppard Pratt in Towson. Andrea McDaniels of the Sun writes that Medicaid now pays only for inpatient treatment at hospitals. The state health department wants to offer more drug treatment options for people on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

COURT ASKS END TO JUVIE SHACKLES: Maryland’s second-highest court has called for an end to the shackling of defendants in juvenile court absent a clear security concern, saying the practice ill-serves the goals of rehabilitating the children, developing their character and protecting their mental and physical health, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes.

NEW LAWS: The Post’s Jenna Portnoy and Josh Hicks give a roundup of new laws that take effect in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia including minimum wage hikes.

  • Numerous laws enacted by the Maryland General Assembly last winter take effect today, including some specific to Harford County and one statewide measure expected to have an immediate impact locally, report Allan Vought and David Anderson of the Aegis. Senate Bill 707 permits hospital operators to convert or replace an existing hospital with a free-standing medical center without having to reapply and be reviewed through the state’s often weighty and time-consuming certificate of need licensing process.

RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLAN: An estimated 1 million Marylanders work for businesses that do not offer a retirement savings plan. Legislation that becomes law today will give them state-sponsored and private alternatives, Michael Dresser of the Sun writes. Maryland workers who don’t have access to 401(k)s or other federal plans may choose to have money deducted from their paychecks and placed in a retirement account intended to supplement Social Security.

FEDS AWARD $15.6M TO STATE: The federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps announced Thursday it is awarding $15.6 million to its Maryland-based programs, most of which will be used to mentor at-risk youth, expand health services and provide support to veterans and refugees, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

KITTLEMAN WON’T BACK TRUMP: In unvarnished words, Howard county’s top Republican, County Executive Allan Kittleman, excoriated the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party, joining a rare rank of local elected Republicans who publicly renounced Trump and said they will not vote for him in November, Fatimah Waseem writes for the Howard County Times. Donald Trump, he said, does not represent his “strong feelings” on civil rights and diversity. Trump’s comments “frustrate” him. “That’s not how I was raised,” Kittleman said.

HARRIS WILL: Maryland’s Republican governor recently made clear he doesn’t plan on voting for Donald Trump for president this November. But, writes Jeremy Cox for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Free State’s next-highest-ranking member of the party isn’t just voting for the presumptive nominee, he plans to campaign on his behalf. “Yeah, I’m a Republican. I’m going to support him,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Harris at a town hall gathering in Fruitland on Wednesday, June 29. “He’s the nominee, so I’m going to support him. I particularly like his picks for the Supreme Court.”

RELEASE OF FREDERICK WOMAN SOUGHT: Maryland lawmakers have joined in a Frederick family’s quest to free their wife and mother from a Gambian prison, Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post reports that U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John K. Delaney issued a joint statement on Thursday calling on the government of Gambia to immediately release Fanta Darboe Jawara, a Frederick resident who has been jailed in that country since April.

  • Laddyboy

    I am sorry that these “republicans?” in Maryland’s governing body refuse to support We the Peoples’ Choice. This in turn means that these “republicants” support the LIAR, ‘h.r.clinton’ for President. Divided We fall – – – – Together We stand!!!!!!!!!!
    I was wondering why Mr. Larry Hogan would not change the laws in the “Free State” to align the laws with the Constitution. And, too think I voted for some of these people. What an embarisment these people are to the HONOR, INTEGRITY and RESPECT our REPRESENTATIVES are supposed to have.