As Maryland moves toward all-electronic toll billing and constituents complain about high fines that total thousands of dollars in some cases, two lawmakers are working to reduce the penalties for late video toll payments. Drivers who go through toll facilities without paying are sent a video toll invoice. If the video toll is not paid within 30 days, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) issues a citation with a $50 civil penalty.
Accuracy of the 5-star school rating system questioned; Washington County monitoring education legislation coming out of Annapolis; Trump administration changes to food stamp program could yank benefit from up to 80,000 Marylanders; changes in leadership in Annapolis could help Baltimore city, its suburbs; the 4th wheel of the three-member Board of Public Works to retire after 20 years; Dels. Hettleman, Cardin to seek Sen. Zirkin’s seat; Kansas artist sues state environment department for using his images; as expected, Yvette Lewis elected to head Maryland Democratic Party; Baltimore city councilwoman elected president of MaCO; Capital Trails Coalition hopes to double size of area network; and Washington County schools lead Tri-State districts in technology.
In Massachusetts, ff the first invoice isn’t paid within 30 days, a $1 fee is assessed for each violation. After another 30 days, another $1 fee applies. Invoices more than 90 days overdue incur $1 per violation and a $20 RMV/DMV fee, and the vehicle registration is flagged for non-renewal.
The Maryland Transportation Authority is also in the process of contracting for a collections agency to go after out-of-state drivers, which is expected to be implemented sometime after the 3G transition. Earlier this year, the state said out-of-state drivers have racked up $102 million in unpaid video tolls and fines.
As battle lines harden over how much reform of public schools in Maryland will cost and who will pay for it, the argument has become just about money, and not the scores of moving parts in a comprehensive proposal that would drastically change education here. Lost in arguing about the billions more the changes will cost state and local taxpayers is the key fifth part of the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (p.122). It spells out in detail how a new super oversight board will hold the school systems accountable for how the money is spent.
Maryland nearly made the Top 10 of Best Roads in the country in rankings for a consumer website. Maryland came in at 38, in reverse scoring chart where number 1 was worst and number 50 was best. Maryland scored better than any of its neighbors, while also outspending them per mile of road, according to ConsumerAffairs.com, a web-based consumer news and resource center.
Residents of rural Wicomico County are upset about the construction of a 3-million-gallon tank of chicken “residuals” leftover from the processing of poultry which is spread on farmland. The 23-foot-tall tank will contain an oily slurry culled from the wastewater generated by two poultry industry facilities in a neighboring county. One homeowner fears the odor will drive her indoors, attract hordes of flies and cause the value of nearby properties, including hers, to plummet.
Howard County superintendent Michael Martirano proposed a school redistricting plan that hurts poor children by removing them from “Title I” schools where federally-funded programs help children from low-income families.
In Maryland, compromise provisions of the law “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” establishing (among other things) an independent Inspector General (IG) for Education, have created a weak auditing office—a tired, toothless canine. The new IG will be statutorily much weaker than his or her counterparts within the U.S. GAO, federal IG offices, Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), and IGs in the state’s executive-branch agencies.
The prevailing media narrative surrounding redistricting is a Manichean frame pitting social justice advocates fighting for equity (however ill-defined they use the term) against wealthy parents who do not want their children moved out of their community schools. However, there is another framework at play, one that explains the real coalitions and motivations at play: Bootleggers and Baptists, a theory developed by a Clemson University economist.
Children from lower-income families are concentrated in Columbia’s older neighborhoods and the Route 1 corridor because that’s where their parents can afford to live. Achieving equity in education for these students requires the additional resources laid out by the Kirwan Commision on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Simply moving them to higher performing schools, as the superintendent has proposed, is not enough.