State Roundup, August 11, 2017

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2 DOCS CHARGED IN OPIOID CRACKDOWN: Two Baltimore-area doctors flooded Maryland streets with more than a quarter-million doses of illegally prescribed painkillers and sedatives in recent years, compounding the state’s opioid epidemic, investigators said Thursday. The doctors have been indicted on charges of selling prescriptions for cash, Tim Prudente reports for the Sun. Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said. “We hope they’re outliers. Unfortunately, the evidence in Maryland and around the country [is] there are others like them.”

  • Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that law enforcement officials say Kofi Shaw-Taylor illegally billed Medicaid and accepted cash for prescriptions at clinics in Glen Burnie and Baltimore. He faces 289 counts of charges that include conspiracy to commit drug distribution and Medicaid fraud. Officials say Hasan Babaturk, a doctor in Bel Air, met patients on the street and made house calls to illegally sell opioid painkillers.

2 INSURERS LEFT IN HEALTH EXCHANGE: The Maryland Health Connection, the state’s online health insurance market or “exchange” under the Affordable Care Act, will have just two companies offering individual health coverage for 2018, while much of Maryland will have only one choice from the two, writes Vic Simon for The Sentinel newspapers.

FROSH ASKED TO RECUSE SELF: Del. Haven Shoemaker and 20 of his Republican colleagues in the House of Delegates have signed a letter to Attorney General Brian Frosh asking that he recuse himself from a court case involving alleged gerrymandering, John Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports. They argue it is inappropriate for Frosh to defend the redistricting plan given his past role in the Democratic Senate leadership — Frosh served on the Senate Committee on Reapportionment and Redistricting before being elected attorney general in 2014.

HOGAN DOUBTS STATE CENTER PROGRESS: Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh toured the stalled State Center development in Baltimore Thursday afternoon, lamenting the lack of progress at the site as a legal battle between the state and the company that planned to develop it rages on. The $1.5 billion redevelopment was supposed to provide a badly needed economic boost for the city’s west side. But it has dragged on for years without progress in part due to several lawsuits, the Sun’s Luke Broadwater writes.

  • During a news conference, Hogan placed the blame for the delay on the developer and the court fight. He also dismissed the idea that an agreement with State Center could be reached to get the $1.5 billion overhaul by State Center LLC back on track, Adam Bednar reports in the Daily Record. Hogan said the state had been hopeful its lawsuit and the developer’s countersuit could’ve been handled by July, but that the court battle could be settled by this fall. He also rejected the idea that State Center LLC and his administration could reach an agreement to allow that project to move forward.

A STEWARD OF THE BAY: Saving the Bay is obviously about improving water quality, but equally tricky is the business of managing how much seafood we extract from that water, writes the Bay Journal’s Tom Horton in am article in MarylandReporter. No one has navigated this part of the Bay restoration puzzle longer, or with more skill and sensibility than scientist Bill Goldsborough, who retired late last year from a career with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that spanned five decades.

HOGAN ATTACKS MIDGE PROBLEM: Concerns that an infestation of midges will spread into the northern Chesapeake Bay has Gov. Larry Hogan vowing to preemptively unleash the full fire and fury of the state’s agriculture department upon the pests, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Hogan Tuesday issued an executive order that will allow the Maryland Department of Agriculture to spend $330,000 earmarked to eradicate the tiny fly-like creatures sometimes referred to as boat fleas.

JOINT SEWAGE PROJECT: Officials of Baltimore City and Baltimore County kicked off a three-year, $430 million project on Thursday that will eliminate miles-long sewage backups that lead to overflows into the Jones Falls and the Inner Harbor. Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that the project at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dundalk will add pumps to move backed-up sewage and water into holding tanks, especially during storms when sewage and rainwater overwhelm the system. The sewage plant is located in Dundalk, but is owned by the city.

BODY CAMS FOR OFF-DUTY OFFICERS? After an off-duty police officer fatally shot a man in a supermarket parking lot last week, Baltimore County officials say they are considering requiring officers who moonlight as security guards to wear their body cameras. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has asked the county attorney to review the issue and state Sen. Jim Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, called for the county to require the camera use, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.

NEW GOP WOMEN’s GROUP: In her Political Notes column for the Frederick News Post, Danielle Gaines writes that a new group is focused on grassroots, shoe-leather Republican Party advocacy. Greater Frederick Republican Women was chartered in June by the National Federation of Republican Women. Next week it will be holding a panel discussion on the opioid crisis.