State Roundup, December 9, 2013

WHERE WAS BROWN? Although state officials have provided the public scant detail about the troubled launch of Maryland’s version of Obamacare, emails and documents show that the project was beset behind the scenes for months by an array of technical issues, warring contractors and other problems, report Meredith Cohn and Andrea Walker in the Sun.

Cohn and Walker also report that as Maryland officials touted their implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was front and center — proudly describing the state as a national leader in preparing for the overhaul. But even though Brown was helping to lead the health care effort, he wrote no emails to the state workers overseeing development of the state’s online health insurance marketplace — at least none that his office deemed fit for public release.

BROWN’S CULPABILITY: While many state legislators are calling for an investigation into the problems with the health care exchange website, those problems, which were followed Friday night by the resignation of the woman who was running the exchange, continued to resonate Sunday in the 2014 gubernatorial race, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Brown’s campaign advertises that he is a proven leader. His websites brag about his role in bringing to fruition the Affordable Care Act. He’s gotten a national award for it. But he doesn’t have any answer to why he was asleep at the switch, why he wasn’t on top of this exceedingly complex IT operation that cried out for strong, forceful leadership from someone like Brown with a military background, columnist Barry Rascovar writes for

HEALTH EXCHANGE RESIGNATION: The director of Maryland’s troubled health insurance exchange resigned Friday amid ongoing technical problems and questions about a Caribbean vacation she took while the online marketplace faltered, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. Rebecca Pearce, hired two years ago to build a $107 million exchange, leaves her post as officials struggle to repair the system that launched Oct. 1.

The technological problems with Maryland’s exchange have been particularly problematic because the state was among the earliest and most aggressive in embracing the health-care law, Lena Sun and John Wagner of the Post report.

ENROLLMENT UPTICK: Maryland officials reported a modest uptick Friday in the number of people choosing to enroll in private plans through the state’s online health-insurance exchange and said a new round of data coming next week would show “a marked increase” in total enrollments, John Wagner writes in the Post.

RUSH TO RAISE FUNDS: As many Marylanders are busy preparing for the holidays, the state’s politicians are scurrying to raise money for an election next summer, writes Michael Dresser and Erin Cox in the Sun. The political calendar is chock full of breakfasts, luncheons and evening receptions geared toward gathering as much in donations as possible by January, when many elected officials are barred from fundraising during the 90-day General Assembly session.

COMMON CORE CONFUSION: Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette writes about the confusion over Common Core with teachers and parents alike. In one household, extracurricular activities are history. There’s no time for music lessons and after-school sports. Not with the multiple tests her fourth-grader and sixth-grader take each week on top of additional hours of homework, the result of the new Common Core State Standards rolled out in Anne Arundel County Public Schools this year.

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NATIONAL HARBOR CASINO: Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that consultants told state gambling officials in Annapolis on Friday that a casino at National Harbor would bring in more revenue and tax dollars than two other sites vying for the state’s sole casino in Prince George’s County.

SIX FIXES: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post comes up with a six point plan of its own to fix Maryland’s broken political system.

PAPER BALLOTS: Paper ballots are making a comeback. State election officials are awaiting Gov. Martin O’Malley’s fiscal 2015 budget to move forward with a shift to paper ballots in time for the 2016 presidential contest. The move is estimated to cost around $37 million, reports Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette.

POLITICAL NOTES: Among items in Kaustuv Basu’s Political Notebook for the Hagerstown Herald Mail are: Del. Neil Parrott is organizing a Christmas Cookie & Cider Drop-In; U.S. Rep. John Delaney gets a new chief of staff; and Del. Kelly Schulz backs Dan Bongino for Delaney’s seat.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOO’MALLEY CRITICIZED: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s trade mission to Brazil and El Salvador, which wraps up early this week, was criticized shortly before it began by Sen. Victor Ramirez and other Hispanic elected officials and business leaders who say they should have been more involved in pulling it together, the Post reports.

CARDIN SPEAKS: Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky interviews Del. Jon Cardin, who is running for Attorney General, on reducing recivdivism, marijuana reform and agricultural pollution.

MARIJUANA PROPOSAL: Walter Olson of the Cato Institute, writes in a column for the Sun, that Del. Heather Mizeur’s proposal for legalizing and taxing marijuana deserves more careful consideration as a jumping off point for intelligent debate instead of highly charged rhetoric.

GANSLER GETS A GOVERNOR: In Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor, Attorney General Doug Gansler doesn’t have the support of the chief executive he is trying to succeed. But Gansler has another governor in his corner — the one from Montana — and he is scheduled to appear Tuesday night at a major fundraiser, the Post’s John Wagner writes.

MORE BROWN ENDORSEMENTS: With the Saturday afternoon event featuring Montgomery County politicians — and a similar one during the morning featuring Baltimore politicians — Anthony Brown has now rolled out endorsements from more than 180 Democratic elected officials, including both U.S. senators from Maryland and the state Senate president and House speaker. He was endorsed by Baltimore City Council President Jack Young.

Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports that Baltimore City Council President Jack Young endorsed Brown’s quest to be Maryland’s next governor, joining Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and 10 of 14 City Council members. Young’s endorsement leaves City Comptroller Joan Pratt as the only major officeholder in city government not to throw her support behind the lieutenant governor.

CUMMINGS TO ATTEND MANDELA SERVICE: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings will be among 26 congressmen traveling to South Africa to attend memorial services for revered leader Nelson Mandela Tuesday in FNB Stadium, known as Soccer City in Soweto, Susan Reimer writes in the Sun.

FREDERICK CO. EXEC RACE: The race for Frederick County’s first county executive got a little more interesting last week when moderate Republican David Gray, a county commissioner, confirmed he will run for the seat in 2014, a seat that many had expected tea partier Blaine Young to run for, opines the Frederick News Post editorial board.

COHEN GOES TO STATE: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette reports that former Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen is taking a behind-the-scenes role in his new job at the state’s facilities management agency. Cohen is the new chief administrative officer for Maryland’s Department of General Services. He will report to DGS Secretary Alvin C. Collins and make $112,000 annually.

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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:

1 Comment

  1. RadDad1

    Looks like the health care dilemma will affect LT Gov Brown’s race for Governor. And probably at least slow down Governor O’Malley’s thoughts for a presidential bid.

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