State Roundup, August 30, 2016

SCHOOL START ANNOUNCEMENT: The state’s two most powerful and prominent advocates for pushing the first day of school to after Labor Day have scheduled a joint “major announcement” for Wednesday about the start date for Maryland’s public schools, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

BLIND GROUP THREATENS VOTING SUIT: The National Federation of the Blind has threatened to take the state of Maryland to federal court if it fails by Friday to require election judges to tell sight-impaired voters they can cast their ballots via an online marking tool that enables them to vote privately and independently, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.

STATE FINES COAL POWER PLANT OWNER: Maryland is fining the owner of two of the state’s largest coal power plants $1 million for dumping too much nitrogen into the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, one of the largest penalties state environmental regulators have levied in years, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

FBI WARNS ON ELECTION HACK: The Sun is reporting that the FBI is warning state elections officials in Maryland and around the country to be on their guard against hackers after the breach of a voter information database in Illinois and an attempted attack in Arizona.

PD OFFICE SEEKS HALT TO SURVEILLANCE: The state Office of the Public Defender has asked the Baltimore Police Department to stop filming citizens from the sky until the public is briefed on the program and defense attorneys are given access to the footage. Kevin Rector reports in the Sun that the public defender also wants to know how evidence gathered by the recently disclosed aerial surveillance program has been stored, accessed and used in the prosecution of criminal defendants.

DONOR CALLS SPY DEBATE ‘HEALTHY:’ Doug Donovan of the Sun reports that the public uproar over the secrecy of the Baltimore Police Department’s test of an aerial surveillance technology is a “healthy” part of the process to decide whether the city will support the program with taxpayer money, said one of the philanthropists bankrolling the initiative.

AUDIT FAULTS JUDICIARY ON DATA SECURITY: The Maryland Judiciary has failed to protect adequately the names and Social Security numbers of more than 150,000 people in its circuit court database, legislative auditors stated in a report that found the Judicial Information Systems computer network also lacked sufficient safeguards against potential hackers. For example, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record,  service contractors were permitted greater access to the Judiciary’s computer system than necessary to perform their work.

SZELIGA-VAN HOLLEN DEBATES: The two leading candidates for Maryland’s open Senate seat appear to be at an impasse in their negotiation over a debate schedule, with Republican Kathy Szeliga’s campaign preparing to accept debate invitations unilaterally, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

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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