State Roundup, December 19, 2016

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HOGAN SEEKS TUNNEL BUCKS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that the state has reapplied for a $155 million federal grant to help expand Baltimore’s Howard Street Tunnel, a project considered crucial to boosting economic activity at the Port of Baltimore, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

MD TRANSPORTATION POLICY: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM continues his Countdown to the Annapolis Summit, in this segment addressing Maryland transportation policy with state Del. Robert Flanagan, former Maryland Secretary of Transportation, and Mel Freeman, former executive director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association. The 14th annual Annapolis Summit takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

GIRLS FACE HARSHER JUVIE TREATMENT: Young women are disproportionately locked up for misdemeanors, which are low-level offenses, in Maryland’s juvenile justice system. And they are more likely than boys to be taken before a judge for probation offenses such as running away, breaking curfew and defying their parents, Erica Green reports in the Sun.

POLLUTION REDUCTION PROJECTS SOUGHT: Maryland state agencies have millions of dollars in pollution-reduction grant funding and are seeking ideas for projects. Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat reports that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has $25 million available and is inviting local governments and nonprofit organizations to apply. A massive effort and partnership between states that surround the Chesapeake Bay is underway, aiming to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and improve water quality.

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT REFORMS: The state school board is considering bold measures — offering vouchers, creating new charter programs and establishing a statewide school district — to improve consistently low-performing schools, Liz Bowie reports in the Sun. The ideas — none of which has been formally proposed — would be radical departures from current practices. They’re being discussed in broad terms by board members as they work to rewrite the regulations that will govern how Maryland’s students and schools are judged beginning next school year.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION REPORT MIA: Members of the General Assembly are expected to return next month without a report from the 21st Century Schools Commission. A fracture has developed on the panel, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record, and Republican members have claimed the legislative group is focused solely on nibbling away another area of power wielded by the governor’s office because a Republican lives in the mansion on State Circle.

MSDE SEES SCHOOL DATA HACK: Frederick County Public Schools is offering 1,000 students who had data stolen after a hack of the Maryland State Department of Education system free identity protection services for a year. The MSDE, with whom FCPS is required by law to share student data, learned its system was hacked during an investigation with FCPS, the FBI, the State Attorney General’s Office, the Maryland State Technology Department and the Multistate Information Sharing and Analysis Center, reports Allen Etzler of the Frederick News-Post.

HOLIDAY PRANKSTER: You’ve got to hand it to Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. What a prankster he is! He’s pulled off one of the great holiday hoaxes of recent times in Maryland, opines political pundit Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter.com. He’s got everyone convinced he is willing to kill 66 major highway projects in Maryland in order to get the legislature to repeal a law requiring a transparent advisory evaluation and ranking of big road, bridge and transit proposals.

COLLEGE DEBT: Katishi Maake of CNS reports that the Project on Student Debt finds that 58% of Maryland undergraduates from public and private nonprofit four-year institutions who graduated in 2014 had debt, and the average total was $27,457, according to the Project on Student Debt.

METRO FIX EXCEEDS $1B: Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld has spent much of his first year studying how much it will cost to fix the region’s transit system. Robert McCartney of the Post reports that the price tag is a lot higher than local government officials say they expected or can afford. The total additional cost for the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia to fulfill Wiede­feld’s goals to improve safety and reliability over the next three budget years exceeds $1­ billion, according to new Metro forecasts.

HOGAN CONDEMNS HATE INCIDENTS: Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday blamed a climate of “frustration and anger” for fueling a rash of hate incidents in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state, reports Bethany Rodgers for Bethesda Beat. During a visit to a Jewish day school in Rockville, Hogan said state law enforcement officials have stayed in close contact with police in Montgomery County, a community recently roiled by anti-Semitic incidents in local schools.

NSA CHALLENGED UNDER TRUMP: The National Security Agency, the electronic eavesdropping outfit headquartered at Fort Meade, has seen attrition increase by half in the past year. And now they face a new challenge: laboring for a boss who has shown little interest in their work. As a candidate, Donald Trump dismissed the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails. As president-elect, he has said he doesn’t need the daily intelligence briefing ordinarily given to presidents, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.

PUGH ON TRUMP MEETING: Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes about Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s meeting with President-elect Trump. Pugh described giving him a Baltimore pin and the two-page letter stressing the city’s need for infrastructure funding. She approached him shortly after he arrived at last week’s Army-Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium.

MO CO DELEGATES CONSIDER COUNCIL RUN: Some members of Montgomery County’s delegation to the House of Delegates are considering shifting their public service from Annapolis to Rockville and running for seats on the County Council, Doug Tallman of Bethesda Beat reports.

FICKER TO RUN: Activist Robin Ficker said Friday he plans to run for office in Montgomery County, and plans to raise money for his campaign by contacting voters who provided email addresses when he was collecting signatures for a term-limits petition last summer, Doug Tallman reports in Bethesda Beat.

MATCHING GRANT FOR MARYLAND REPORTER: MarylandReporter.com is one of 59 nonprofit news organizations from around the country that will receive matching grants for any donations received over the next month until Jan. 19. Any donation of any size up to $1,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Knight Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit journalism

POST WHITE HOUSE TEAM: The Washington Post’s new White House team for the Trump administration includes three Maryland State House alumni, including John Wagner, one of the longest serving Post correspondents in Annapolis who covered Martin O’Malley forever, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton this year. Phil Rucker, who covered one General Assembly session several years ago, will be White House bureau chief and Jenna Johnson, the Post’s lead Trumpster, will be part of the team.

ELECTORAL COLLEGE HISTORY: The Sun’s John Fritze writes about the Electoral College and how it seems that Alexander Hamilton may have modeled it on a system Maryland already had in place for a decade, but later abandoned as being undemocratic.