State Roundup, October 13, 2017

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METRO BOARD ACTION COULD DELAY NEEDED PURPLE LINE DEAL: A Metro board committee voted Thursday on an 11th-hour measure that could delay a multimillion-dollar land transfer critical to the construction of Maryland’s light-rail Purple Line, writes Martine Powers in the Post. Metro is expected to hand over to Maryland the land rights to properties at New Carrollton, College Park and Silver Spring Metro stations so Purple Line work crews can begin construction. The properties are valued between $24 million and $37 million.

PRESSURE ON METRO BOARD CHAIR: Faiz Siddiqui and Robert McCartney of the Post report that pressure grew on Metro board chairman Jack Evans to resign Thursday after he threatened to exercise a rarely used veto in a struggle between the District and Maryland that critics said exemplifies the parochial disputes hampering the transit agency. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) joined Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in calling for Evans to step down. Connolly blamed Evans for inflaming tensions within the region as Metro seeks regionwide support for increased, reliable funding.

STATE SLOW TO PROBE NURSING HOME COMPLAINTS: Maryland lags most of the nation in inspecting high-priority nursing home complaints — a problem past administrations have promised to fix, but that continues to vex state health officials — a federal inspector general has found, reports John Fritze for the Sun.The state failed to investigate nearly 650 allegations of harm at Maryland nursing homes within a required 10-day window, meaning the state missed the federal deadline 74% of the time, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported.

STATE LEADS IN SCHOOL ADMIN COSTS: The state of Maryland appears to have a spending problem, when it comes to paying public school administrators, Christopher Papst of WBFF-TV. Project Baltimore analyzed a 2017 U.S. Census report on the nation’s 100 largest school systems for per student spending on administration costs. Six Maryland jurisdictions are in the Top 10. “That is completely upside down,” said state Del. Kathy Szeliga. “I am shocked, but not surprised.”

REDMER QUESTIONS TRUMP ORDER: President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that he hopes leads to lower health insurance premiums, but Al Redmer, Maryland’s top insurance regulator, is questioning whether the order would work in this state, reports Tim Curtis for the Daily Record. The thrust of Trump’s order instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to look into ways to increase competition, primarily by allowing the formation of health associations to buy insurance.

OUTSIDE LAW FIRM SOUGHT FOR FAA SUIT: Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General is searching for an outside law firm to sue the Federal Aviation Administration over increasing airplane noise in Montgomery County and other parts of the state, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. The office is seeking a firm with expertise in aviation technology and flight patterns, Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said Thursday.

SAY NO TO SPORTS BETTING: In less than two months, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a New Jersey case that could repeal federal limits on sports betting. Not surprisingly, Maryland casino owners are interested in a piece of that action. They are already urging the Maryland General Assembly to place on the 2018 ballot a constitutional amendment to legalize wagers on professional and college sports events. Under the circumstances, there is really only one appropriate course of action when the legislature reconvenes in January, opines the editorial board for the Sun: Just say no.

PROPOSAL CONCERNS CRABBERS: Rona Kobell of the Bay Journal reports that a state advisory group, responding to pleas from Maryland crab processors suffering from a depressed harvest this year is proposing to relax a regulation that could allow importing nearly twice as many egg-bearing female crabs for crabmeat. But some Maryland crabbers object, warning that the move would undercut their income and endanger the future of the entire Chesapeake Bay fishery. The article appears in MarylandReporter.

FROSH JOINS ANTI-JOB DISCRIMINATION EFFORT: Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has joined more than a dozen other states and Washington, D.C., in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to read federal civil-rights law broadly to prohibit job discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

SZELIGA CHASTISED FOR ROCKYMOORE CUMMINGS COMMENT: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Maryland House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) is receiving some backlash for comments about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maya Rockeymoore Cummings that some critics have characterized as petty and divisive. Szeliga wrote on her Facebook page: “Elijah Cumming’s wife running for MD gov. – she likes fancy words – ‘minutiae’ to let us know how smart she is – ‘I have a Ph.D. in political science with an emphasis on public policy,’ she said. ‘I am confident on mastering any minutiae when it comes to government and policy.’ ”

GLASSMAN PLANS CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT: Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has kicked off all his campaigns for elected office over the past 30 years at the Level Volunteer Fire Company and he does not plan to break that streak Tuesday when he is expected to announce he will run for re-election as county executive next year, reports David Anderson for the Aegis.