State Roundup, September 28, 2012

STATE HEALTH REFORM: Under national health care reform, insurance policies in Maryland will be required to cover acupuncture for pain management and chiropractic care in certain cases, and limit home health care to 120 visits per year and physical therapy for ailments such as sports injuries to 50 days a year, writes Andrea Walker in the Sun. The state panel charged with implementing health care reform in Maryland voted yesterday to include these services among those that insurers will be required to cover once reform is fully implemented in 2014.

The health council headed by the lieutenant governor and the health secretary on Thursday chose a state employee plan as the base line for all small group and individual insurance plans sold in the state from 2014 through 2016, Holly Nunn reports in the Gazette.

PRUDENT PURCHASE: In a news analysis for the Capital-Gazette, Tim Prudente writes that casino officials aren’t commenting on news reports that a Pennsylvania-based gaming company is negotiating to buy a share of Maryland Live! casino in Hanover. But an industry analyst says buying into a partnership would be a savvy move by Penn National Gaming, but Cordish Cos. is unlikely to sell.

CAESARS-CITY DEAL: The Caesars Entertainment-backed group with a license to build a casino in Baltimore will have an additional 30 days to work out the details of a needed legal agreement with the city, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

NEW NAME FOR LOTTERY PANEL: Yesterday morning may have marked the final meeting of the Maryland State Lottery Commission, writes Alexander Pyles in the Daily Record. The nine-member panel will become the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission on Oct. 1.

GAMING FOR VET POSTS: Veterans organizations in Maryland can apply next week for a license to have up to five instant lottery pull-tab machines at their facilities to help raise money for veterans, according to an AP report in the Frederick News Post. But it is expected to take months before the machines will be playable because regulations still need to be adopted.

GAY MARRIAGE: WBFF-TV is reporting that, with less than six weeks until the elections, the debate is still far from over and the referendum is too close to call.

OVERPAID UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: The Maryland Labor Department’s Division of Unemployment Insurance overpaid millions in benefits to people who were actually working and shelled out unemployment benefits to people who are dead or in prison, reports Len Lazarick of The division also certified job stimulus tax credits for employers hiring the unemployed for some workers who weren’t actually receiving unemployment benefits.

MINORITY BUSINESS: The Maryland Transit Administration is trying to boost minority business involvement in two multi-million dollar paratransit contracts worth $42 million that have failed to achieve a required 25% Minority Business Enterprise goal, reports Sam Smith in

DEFINING PIT BULL: Just what is a pit bull? The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post writes that even the high court that ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous backed off including mixed pit bulls, which are even harder to define, as part of their ruling. It’s open to debate whether pit bulls are pure breeds, according to the American Pit Bull Registry.

PROSECUTING POLLUTERS: A review of a decade of enforcement actions on the state and federal levels reveals that Maryland and federal authorities rarely push for criminal prosecution of those who violate the Clean Water Act, opines the editorial board for the Sun. They are particularly uncommon when they involve farming, urban runoff and sewage treatment plant violations.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: The Sun is reporting that a panel set up by the General Assembly to study Maryland’s campaign finance laws plans to recommend a series of measures that would force outside interests that advertise in Maryland political campaigns or ballot issues to disclose their spending more fully and quickly.

JOBS CENTER: Laurel’s central location between four major jurisdictions makes it an ideal place for the state’s first regional workforce center, where people can go to find job training, employment connections and host of other services, reports Lindsey McPherson for the Laurel Leader.

DEL. ROSS TO RESIGN: Del. Justin Ross, one of most effective leaders in the Democratic caucus, will resign from the House of Delegates to focus on his commercial real estate business and spend more time with his wife and four children, blogs Annie Linskey for the Sun.

Some of his colleagues note, however, that other leadership opportunities in the House have been limited, writes John Wagner for the Post, due in part to several veteran committee chairmen whose continued service has limited upward movement among younger delegates.

MAJOR-LEAGUE DEM DONOR: The record-blasting year for the Baltimore Orioles seems to be putting owner Peter Angelos in a generous mood, blogs Annie Linskey in the Sun. The baseball team owner has given more than $1.2 million to Democratic super PACs this year.

RUMSFELD TOUTS BONGINO: Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Rep. Andy Harris were among the 130 guests last evening during a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino at the Talbot Country Club, write Chris Polk for the Easton Star-Democrat. Bongino is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

AA SUIT’S POTENTIAL COST: The retaliation and wrongful termination case filed by a former Anne Arundel County public information officer is likely to cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if it goes to trial, reports Allison Bourg of the Capital Gazette. Private lawyers for County Executive John Leopold spent more than 60 hours reviewing depositions given by three county police officers, conferring with county attorneys and meeting with Leopold, running up a tab that so far tops $20,000.

PERJURY PROBE SOUGHT: An Anne Arundel County councilman has asked prosecutors to investigate perjury allegations involving five police officers caught up in a lawsuit against County Executive John Leopold, write the Sun’s Erin Cox and Andrea Siegel.

KAMENETZ’ BONDS: Would you borrow money to pay off your mortgage and instead risk it in the market?
That is in essence of what Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz would like to do by floating $255 million of pension obligation bonds to fill the official hole in the county’s $2 billion pension system, opines Marta Mossburg in an op-ed in the Sun. The real hole is much deeper, and the county soon will sink billions of dollars more into debt because of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s shift of teacher pension costs and tougher accounting standards.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Carroll County could become the third jurisdiction in the state to make English its official language, writes Mary Gail Hare in the Sun. Frederick and Queen Anne’s counties already adopted the policy and, across the country, 31 states have enacted similar legislation.

NEW LAWS: A number of new laws take effect Monday, including one setting standards for honey, reports Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

VETERANS COURT: A new task force explores the creation of a veterans court to deal with the problems of returning veterans such as drug abuse and mental health issues that lead to criminal behavior, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

GONZALES POLL: Gazette columnist Blair Lee examines the results of this week’s Gonzales poll as an antidote to media hype.

FRACKING: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar argues for a common sense approach to natural gas “fracking.

CALIFORNIA-LIKE: With the number of referendum issues on the ballot this year, Maryland is becoming more like California, and not necessarily in a good way, Laslo Boyd argues in a Gazette op-ed.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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