April 10, 2014
In the second installment examining Maryland’s disastrous health care exchange site launch, longtime auditor Charlie Hayward takes a walk through the status of audits and legal maneuvering to assign blame and recoup money. Auditors and lawyers will begin structured, even forensic work, to determine what went wrong and why Maryland’s exchange fared so much worse than those in other states. Hayward looks at the surprising scope and nature of damages of the failure and explains why both the state and its contractor Noridian bear responsibility. He predicts resolution could be complex, costly, and time consuming. [...more]
A coalition of groups against gerrymandering is hoping laughter will be the best medicine for redistricting concerns.
The “Tame the Gerrymander” effort announced Thursday that it had awarded prizes for three political cartoons critiquing Maryland’s new legislative districts. [...more]
April 9, 2014
In a two-part series Thursday and Friday, retired auditor Charles Hayward (full bio below) delves into the problems that led to a disastrous launch of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in fall 2013. Among the chief failings of state leadership: not addressing serious red flags when there may have been enough time to fix the root causes; not appreciating the monumental tasks assigned to limited resources; and (3) not selecting one IT expert to take leadership on the website’s development. [...more]
April 8, 2014
Some people don't like how much Maryland spends or how it spends it, but an outside group says the state is getting a little better at reporting on where taxpayer dollars go.
At the same time, a bill passed unanimously and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley Tuesday is designed to make more of Maryland's government data more available and searchable to everyone through creation of a new Council on Open Data. [...more]
In passing legislation to raise Maryland’s minimum wage, the General Assembly included a provision to increase reimbursement for community-based developmental disabilities providers. This action addresses a legitimate need and no one should begrudge it. However, it does nothing for the direct care workers who serve equally vulnerable citizens, those with psychiatric disabilities. [...more]
Six lawmakers, three from each chamber of the Maryland General Assembly, standing in a ring in the House of Delegates lounge at a half hour before midnight, vehemently haggling over a single bill.
They had only 30 minutes before the close of the 2014 session, and they needed to find middle ground on legislation that would grant the popular Netflix drama an additional $3.5 million in tax dollars. [...more]
After a long-waged political battle, Gov. Martin O’Malley has indicated he will sign a bill that removes criminal penalties for possession 10 grams of marijuana or less. [...more]
April 7, 2014
The House of Delegates gave final passage to legislation raising the Maryland minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018, sending it to the governor for his certain signature.
The bill had originally passed the House 89-46 and the Senate 34-15 before coming back to the House for a final concurrence vote, which passed 87-47.
The increase had been the most visible legislative priority of Gov. Martin O’Malley and it will be the first minimum wage increase Maryland has seen since 2006. [...more]
An altercation on the fourth floor of the House of Delegates office building left an aide to a Harford County delegate in a bloodied suit being taken to the hospital Monday on the last day of session.
The altercation was apparently between the aide and his brother, according to a Maryland Capitol Police officer who was on the scene. [...more]
April 5, 2014
Following hours of hot debate, negotiation and shouting, the House of Delegates Saturday approved removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana in a 78-55 vote. The measure already approved by the Senate, SB364, would make possessing 10 grams of marijuana or less a civil offense, like a parking ticket. A first-time offender would pay $100, while second and third breaches would get a fine of up to $250 and $500, respectively. [...more]