State Roundup March 23, 2010

Health care and how it will affect the state and its residents top today’s roundup, while Maryland legislators begin the final three weeks of their session with lots of work left to do.

HEALTH CARE: According to this Associated Press story, posted by WTOP, Gov. Martin O’Malley will appoint a commission to study the effects President Obama’s health care reform on the state.

Baltimore Sun reporters Meredith Cohn and Kelly Brewington say while 600,000 Marylanders will feel the affects of health care reform right away, lower income residents may not reap benefits until 2014. Small businesses are worried about the costs and burdens associated with health care reform, writes Scott Dance for Baltimore Business Journal.

In addition, Maryland health leaders are at odds about the costs of the new plan, speculating about how the system overhaul will affect doctors, according to Ryan Sharrow for Baltimore Business Journal.

Daily Record business writer Danielle Ulman writes the reform could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars down the line.

Heather Keels and Don Aines, compiled a series of local opinions about the reform for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

HEALTH FRAUD: Also from The Sun, Annie Linskey writes that a bill making its way through the legislature could save the state millions in Medicaid fraud.

BILLS: Only three resolutions and one bill have cleared both the Senate and the House as of Monday evening, with a “mountain” of work left for state lawmakers, writes John Wagner for The Washington Post.

INSURANCE FUND: Lawmakers are attempting to get the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund to curb some of its questionable practices, writes Len Lazarick for

TRANSIT LINES: Senators are asking for a closer look at options for transit lines from the Maryland Transit Administration, writes Andy Rosen for

PUBLIC INVESTMENT: From the Conduit Street (MACo) blog, Andrea Mansfield lists the organization’s opposition to a “draft” bill that aims to pay “livable wages to employees.”

TRANSPORTATION TRUST: Michael Dresser indicates in the Sun’s Getting There (transportation) blog that the Senate is leading the raid on funding from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund for use in the General Fund.

BUDGET WARS: Red Maryland blogger Brian Griffiths posted this link to a Youtube parody of the “Star Wars” intro comparing Republicans to the Rebel Alliance and Liberals to the Galactic Empire.

OYSTER POACHERS: Police are attempting to protect Maryland’s depleted oyster population in protected water sanctuaries. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has the story.

BAY EROSION: An endangered beetle is preventing residents on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline from stopping the erosion of their cliffs, and a bill in the state Senate seeks to give them some relief, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

TEACHER PENSIONS: The Sun editorial page says shifting the costs of some of teacher pensions to county school systems is a good idea and long overdue. The move surprised representatives of county governments and local school boards, Sean Sedam and Alan Brody write in a detailed story for the Gazette.

UNIVERSITY FUNDING: The university system escaped largely unscathed from the budget cuts proposed by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, leading to a possible 3 percent hike in tuition rates, Ben Slivnick reports in the Diamondback.

DEBT SETTLEMENT: Companies that help consumers settle their debts are split over legislation to regulate their fees, Lindsey Robbins reports in The Gazette.

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