State Roundup, October 27, 2016

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EARLY VOTING BEGINS: There is no excuse for not voting. Same day voter registration is allowed with proof of residence. Voters can vote from today until Thursday Nov. 3. Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Saturday and Sunday, the lightest voting days.

SENATE DEBATE: The only TV debate between the two major party candidates for U.S. Senate Wednesday night was what campaign debates used to be in the good old days before 2015, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com. In an hour of crisp questioning, Republican Kathy Szeliga, minority whip of the House of Delegates from Baltimore County, and Democrat Chris Van Hollen, a seven-term congressman from Montgomery County, discussed a dozen different issues without rancor, interruptions or personal insults.

PRISON OFFICIALS FIRED: Three high-level officials in the Maryland department that runs the state prison system, including its top intelligence officer, have been removed from office after being investigated for alleged misconduct, Michael Dresser and Justin Fenton report in the Sun. The three officials in the office of Secretary Stephen T. Moyer were removed from the state payroll Tuesday.

PG LEADERS BLAST METRO CUTS: A large group of Prince George’s County mayors, town and county council members, and General Assembly leaders are blasting plans for late-night Metro cuts, writes Max Smith for WTOP. “We are aware that WMATA staff and the Federal Transit Administration have identified lack of access to the tracks as one of the bottlenecks contributing to the accumulation of a maintenance backlog,” the county officials wrote in a letter sent to the Metro Board Wednesday. “However, no proposal put before the public has explained why permanently closing every line of the Metrorail system during the pre-SafeTrack late-night hours is necessary on a continuing basis.”

RAPE KITS UNTESTED: Despite a years-long, national push to collect, process and catalog DNA evidence from sexual assaults, police in Maryland have left more than 3,500 rape kits untested, Alison Knezevich and Catherine Rentz report in The Sun. Advocates for rape victims say that number shows that police are not investigating all complaints of sexual assault thoroughly.

DIABETES COSTS MEDICAID: A study commissioned by the society that represents Maryland’s doctors has found that Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor, is spending twice as much money to treat people with diabetes than those who don’t have the chronic condition, Andrea McDaniels reports in the Sun. Results of the study commissioned by MedChi and conducted by the Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County found that Medicaid spending for a patient with diabetes in 2014 was $24,387, compared to $10,880 for someone without the disease.

REDUCING HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS: State lawmakers heard from consumer advocates Wednesday on how to slow premium increases for those buying health insurance on the state exchange, proposals that might also moderate costs for the majority getting coverage through an employer, writes the Sun’s Meredith Cohn.

HARFORD SHERIFF TO ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS: The Harford County Sheriff’s Office will partner with the federal government on immigration enforcement with the signing Wednesday of an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that covers screening for undocumented aliens at the county detention center, who are suspected of crimes threatening public safety. David Anderson reports in the Aegis and the Sun.

HIGHEST PAID STATE EMPLOYEES: Drew Hansen of the Business Journals lists the highest paid state employees, plus a searchable list of all state workers making over $50,000 a year.

UMCP FEES AND SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: Student leaders have dropped their demand that the University of Maryland, College Park raise fees to shore up the university’s office of sexual misconduct after administrators pledged to hire staff and conduct a review of investigative procedures, Tom Prudente writes in the Sun. The Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct had drawn scrutiny after it was revealed that investigations of reports of sexual misconduct on campus took more than twice as long as recommended by the U.S. Department of Education. “It’s really a win for student activism,” said senior Katherine Swanson, president of the student government.

YES ON HOWARD’S QUESTION A: The Sun editorial board says Howard County voters should approve Question A, establishing public financing of campaigns for local office.

PLASTER, SARBANES DEBATE: Rep. John Sarbanes and Republican Mark Plaster sparred over a variety of issues on Wednesday night at a Severna Park forum, Phil Davis reports in the Annapolis Capital.  As the two vie for District 3’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Sarbanes looked to focus on the experience he has serving five terms in Congress as a contrast to Plaster’s “outside the Beltway” campaign.

PLANK ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Under Armour Inc. CEO Kevin Plank won’t say who he is voting for on Election Day, but he says, “America is great now.” Appearing on CNBC Wednesday to talk about the sportswear maker, Plank seemed taken aback when asked about the hotly contested presidential race, reports Holden Wilen in the Baltimore Business Journal.

DELANEY, HOEBER FORUM: Asked how they would rebuild the public’s faith in Congress, 6th Congressional District candidates agreed on the problem but offered different solutions during a forum Wednesday morning in Hagerstown, Mike Lewis reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

ARCHDIOCESE CLOSING SCHOOLS: The Archdiocese of Baltimore is closing three Catholic schools and merging two others amid declining enrollment and the need to upgrade aging facilities, Liz Bowie reports in the Sun. Seton Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore, St. Thomas Aquinas School in Hampden, and John Paul Regional School in Woodlawn will close in June, the archdiocese told parents and teachers Wednesday afternoon. As a result, more than 350 students must enroll in another private or public school.