State Roundup, October 18, 2016

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FACIAL ID SOFTWARE USE CRITICIZED: A five-year-old program in Maryland that lets police compare images of unidentified criminal suspects with millions of motor vehicle records using increasingly advanced facial recognition software has come under fire from civil liberties advocates, who say such programs lack transparency and infringe on privacy rights, Kevin Rector and Alison Knezevich report in the Sun.

CHANGE FOR CASH BAIL: Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is planning to ask the state’s judiciary to adopt a rule to ensure defendants are not kept in jail only because they can’t afford bail, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

STATE CANCELS CONTRACT: A state agency is transferring developmentally disabled youths and canceling its contract with a for-profit Delaware company after the death of a 15-year-old Maryland girl, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.  Katherine Morris, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, said the contract with AdvoServ will be terminated on Oct. 31 and that the Maryland agency is moving all its clients to other facilities before the end of the month.

LAWMAKERS SCHOOLED ON FARMING: State senators and delegates in two environment-related committees got an up-close look at Mid-Shore farming operations Friday, Oct. 14, writes Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. The Mid-Shore farm tour was one the Maryland Department of Agriculture hopes will be educational in the legislators’ future decisions on the state’s agriculture issues. “It’s a priority for the secretary of agriculture (Joe Bartenfelder) to have education tours for our policymakers,” said MDA Director of Government Relations Matt Teffeau, who organized the tour.

DELAYS IN TECH GAINS: Baltimore and Maryland may be poised to reap gains from the biohealth and cybersecurity sectors, two areas expected to provide many of the jobs of the future, but some familiar impediments — a struggling educational system, high taxes and a lackluster national reputation — are in the way, guests at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual economic forecast breakfast were told Monday. Tom Baden reports the story for the Daily Record.

CANCER MOONSHOT: Jason Whong of the Daily Record reports that Maryland-based companies and organizations of all sizes are contributing to the national initiative to end cancer. More than 70 commitments to new actions, such as funding additional research, making new ways of sharing data and increasing outreach efforts in communities, were detailed Monday in Vice President Joe Biden’s progress report on the initiative, called the “cancer moonshot.”

CARROLL ED BOARD, DELEGATES MEET: Carroll County Board of Education members met with members of the county’s delegation to Annapolis on Monday afternoon to discuss some of the bigger issues facing education in Maryland, writes Emily Chappell for the Carroll County Times. A majority of the 90-minute meeting focused on school funding — especially when dealing with the Carroll County Career and Technology Center and teacher salaries — and the school’s calendar with the mandated post-Labor Day start.

LOW-COST CAMPAIGN ON BALLOT MEASURE: Whatever the outcome for the term-limits proposal on next month’s Montgomery County ballot, neither supporters nor opponents are likely to be accused of trying to buy the contest, Bill Turque reports in the Post.  The two political committees organized around Question B — Voters for Montgomery County Term Limits and No on B — raised a total of $12,000, according to state campaign finance reports filed late Friday.

FUNDING SUPER PAC: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports that the already expensive campaign for Maryland’s 6th District continues to get more so, as telecommunications executive Mark Epstein donated another $1.4 million in recent weeks in an effort to elect his wife, Republican Amie Hoeber, to Congress next month. The latest campaign finance disclosure reports, filed late Saturday with the FEC and covering the third quarter of 2016, show Epstein has now donated a total of $3.8 million to Maryland USA, a so-called Super PAC created more than a year ago to promote Hoeber’s candidacy. Hoeber faces Democratic Rep. John Delaney, who is seeking a third term in the Nov. 8 general election.

MEDIA & COLUMBIA AT 50: As part of his monthly series on Columbia at 50, Len Lazarick writes about the successful Columbia Flier and the attempted growth of other media outlets in this new planned community. For many of us in the news business, it’s a bittersweet read since we happily made our journalism home at Patuxent Publishing, which owned the Columbia Flier and among other newspapers, for many years.

kennyburnspic

Let Kenny Burns in. WYPR photo

JOURNALISTS DEFEND BURNS: The Baltimore Association of Black Journalists on Monday formally called on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to lift her ban of a WYPR reporter who covers City Hall, Luke Browadwater of the Sun reports.  Rawlings-Blake last week denied WYPR’s P. Kenneth Burns access to news conferences following the weekly Board of Estimates meetings. The mayor accused Burns of exhibiting “verbally and physically threatening” behavior, but declined to provide evidence to support her claims. Burns, who is black, denies the accusations.

JUDGE TOSSES PRIMARY CHALLENGE: A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought a redo of Baltimore’s primary election, concluding in part that the plaintiffs waited too long to file the complaint, the Sun’s Carrie Wells reports. The plaintiffs, led by members of Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections — or VOICE — argued that a new primary election should be held because of alleged irregularities and a “vote-buying scheme.”