State Roundup, June 22, 2017

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TURMOIL IN HEALTH INSURANCE: The Maryland Insurance Administration held its first hearing Wednesday on the large rate increases being sought by three insurance carriers selling health plans to individuals on the state exchange. The hearing came as another carrier decided to pull out of the market. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co. follows UnitedHealthcare, which stopped selling plans last year, Meredith Cohn reports for the Sun.

HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL OPPOSED: A majority of voters in deeply red (Republican) congressional districts oppose the health care overhaul approved by the House last month, a finding that could complicate efforts to get the legislation to President Donald J. Trump’s desk, according to a University of Maryland poll released Wednesday. John Fritze of the Sun writes that the survey, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, found that 63% of voters in “very red” districts opposed the American Health Care Act while voters in “red” or “leans red” districts were against it 63% and 60%, respectively.

BPW DELAYS LAND PURCHASE: The purchase of a wooded parcel on the Eastern Shore has been delayed for at least two weeks after Comptroller Peter Franchot raised questions during a Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday. The Department of Natural Resources requested approval to spend more than $3.4 million to buy a wooded 1,664-acre parcel along Route 13 in Somerset County using Program Open Space funds, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

BAY RESTORATION: Maryland is slipping behind schedule on removing pollutants from its stormwater runoff and septic system discharges but is otherwise largely on pace in its cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, according to a top environmental group. Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Free State “has taken significant steps to increase restoration activity,” the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said Wednesday.

SEN. ASTLE RUNS FOR ANNAPOLIS MAYOR: Sen. John Astle pledged to scale back the city’s borrowing, dust off old sector plans and put his legislative experience to work if he becomes mayor of Annapolis, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital. In front of a crowd of about 40 supporters and wearing a white, striped seersucker jacket, a blue tie and socks with wine glasses on them, Astle made his campaign official with a kickoff event at the Mount Olive AME Church on Wednesday evening.

TUMULTUOUS DISTRICT 39: Louis Peck writes in Bethesda Beat about the upheaval in the District 39 races following the incumbent state legislators’ decision to form a slate and tap Lesley Lopez as their pick to replace Del. Charles Barkley, who is running for Montgomery County Council, in the Democratic primary. One candidate has already dropped out and another candidate is forming a rival Democratic slate.

SHERIFF TOUTS IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT: Sheriff Chuck Jenkins touted Frederick County’s immigration enforcement program at a national conference of law enforcement professionals, a group that included Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reports Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News Post. The Department of Justice invited Jenkins to speak about the 287(g) program Tuesday at the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety in Bethesda.

COUNCIL REJECTS ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION: The Rockville City Council has narrowly approved an ordinance restricting police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities or asking residents about citizenship status — a victory for advocates who saw similar measures die in Annapolis and vetoed in Howard County earlier this year, Bill Turque reports in the Post.

WA CO COMMISH CHARGES INTIMIDATION: Washington County Commissioner Jeff Cline said Tuesday that he is the target of a county investigation “to discredit and intimidate” him from “speaking the truth” less than two weeks after he filed an ethics complaint against three top county officials, Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. Cline had received an email from a Baltimore County law firm requesting an interview with him and access to his computer devices. The firm is investigating leaks regarding a sexual harassment complaint filed against Commissioner LeRoy E. Myers Jr., he said.