State Roundup, October 26, 2017

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KIRWAN PANEL WON’T MEET DEADLINE: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that the commission charged with revising state school funding formulas will not be able to finish its work by its Dec. 31 deadline, commission chair Brit Kirwan told the panel Wednesday. “It will take more time to do our work completely and accurately,” said Kirwan, the former university system chancellor.

HOGAN EMBRACES TRAFFIC LIGHT TECHNOLOGY: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Gov. Larry Hogan says that drivers in 14 state highway corridors in Maryland will see their travel times cut over the next year as a result of a $50 million upgrade to traffic signals. The new system will use artificial intelligence to better synchronize signals and improve traffic flow.

HOGAN ATTACKS METRO CHAIRMAN: Faiz Siddiqui and Katherine Shaver of the Post report that, with the Metro board under fire for what many say is dysfunction and perceived parochialism in its ranks, a feud between the jurisdictions comprising it may be its undoing. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Wednesday threatened to push for the board to be disbanded if Chairman Jack Evans follows through with a threat to block the transfer of land Maryland needs for its light-rail Purple Line.

MIA MULLS INSURANCE RATE HIKES: The Maryland Insurance Administration decided to consider rate rises after the Trump administration said earlier this month that it would no longer pay insurance companies subsidies that helped cover the cost of co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses for low-income policy holders, Andrea McDaniels writes in the Sun.

TRUMP THREATENS BAY: Former EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus and Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker, in an op-ed for the Sun, opine that the long and hard work of bringing the Chesapeake Bay back to life, which began under the Reagan administration, is threatened by the Trump administration’s EPA. The president’s proposed budget eliminated all funding for the bay program. Other air and water initiatives are also under attack. Scientific research to support these efforts is also being cut. The administration seems bent on weakening these basic laws through a strategy of reduced enforcement and diminished resources.

PAID SICK LEAVE: As Democrats prepare a new round of attacks on Gov. Larry Hogan (R) over his decision to veto their earned sick leave bill this year, the governor says on a podcast released Wednesday that he still hopes to find common ground with lawmakers in the upcoming General Assembly session. “It’s not like we’re from opposite planets,” Hogan said of his differences with legislative Democrats on how to offer paid sick leave benefits to Marylanders. Josh Kurtz writes the article for Maryland Matters.

RX POT LICENSES: Medical marijuana regulators in Maryland have approved licenses for two cannabis businesses that were under investigation for potential conflicts of interest, after concluding that no evidence had been uncovered, writes Aaron Gregg in the Post.  Licenses were approved for Doctor’s Orders in Dorchester County and Baltimore’s Temescal Wellness.

MO CO SCHOOL SKED PROPOSAL: The Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent has suggested shortening spring break by four days to squeeze the 2018-2019 academic calendar inside a state-mandated timeframe, reports Bethany Rodgers in Bethesda Beat. The schedule presented Tuesday to school board members would include two full teacher planning days, preserve time off on two Jewish holidays and provide 182 instructional days, two more than the legal minimum. It does so at the expense of the traditional 10-day spring break, which would be reduced to six days under the superintendent’s proposal.

HARASSMENT IN ANNAPOLIS: In the wake of all the sexual harassment and assault allegations leveled against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in recent weeks, statehouses across the country, where predatory behavior is all too often the distressing norm, are girding for the fallout. But two years ago, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters wrote a piece about what it was like for women in the Annapolis State House. He reruns it today.