State Roundup, August 30, 2017

Print More

HOGAN TO PUSH FOR STRICTER SENTENCES: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) pledged to push for stricter sentencing guidelines for repeat violent offenders after meeting with Baltimore criminal justice officials Tuesday to discuss the city’s record-high homicide rate, reports Josh Hicks for the Post. Hogan, who told reporters that the meeting “got a little heated at times because we were expressing our opinions,” said judges often waive jail time for people with multiple violent-crime convictions and place them on probation.

OBAMACARE PREMIUMS TO SOAR: The cost of premiums for plans sold on the state’s health exchange will soar for 2018, adding to questions about the stability and affordability of the health insurance program known as Obamacare. Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports that state regulators announced Tuesday that they have approved average rate increases of just over 23% to nearly 50%, depending on the plan and carrier, increases that surely will burden consumers who get no government subsidies but also potentially still leave insurers in the red.

DISPENSARY OWNER UNDER EEOC PROBE: The commission regulating medical marijuana in Maryland was unaware that it awarded a dispensary license in Annapolis to a man under federal investigation for workplace discrimination for at least three years. Advanced Alternative Therapies owner David Podrog did not disclose on his initial application to the commission that he was under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as early as 2014, Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports.

BILL WOULD ALLOW LAB PET ADOPTIONS: State Del. Ben Kramer, a Montgomery County Democrat, has twice put in bills to allow for the adoption of pets that have been used for research, modeled after laws in New York, California, Connecticut, Minnesota and Nevada (Illinois this month became the sixth state to enact such a law). But they encountered opposition – principally from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System, according to Kramer and the advocates, Josh Kurtz reports for Maryland Matters.

PURPLE LINE SCHEDULE: Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat begins compiling details of construction plans for the Purple Line light rail system.

MARYLAND BEEHIVES SUFFERING: The honeybee population in the U.S. is stable, but a recent study conducted by the University of Maryland showed that beekeepers continue to lose a high percentage of bees each year. Nationally, beekeepers lost 33.2% of their honeybee colonies between April 2016 and April 2017, according to the university survey. Maryland hives did even worse, with a total annual loss of nearly 55%, reports Samantha Hogan for the Frederick News-Post.

DEMS ASK HOGAN TO DISAVOW WAGNER: Maryland Democrats are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to rescind his endorsement of a Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania who criticized billionaire liberal donor George Soros as a “Hungarian Jew,” reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. State Democratic party chairwoman Kathleen Matthews issued a statement Tuesday criticizing Hogan’s decision to align himself with Sen. Scott Wagner, a conservative supporter of President Trump.

EX-OBAMA AIDE TO RUN FOR PG EXEC: Former Obama administration official Paul Monteiro returned to his high school in Prince George’s County on Tuesday to kick off his long-shot campaign for county executive, writes Rachel Siegel in the Post. A lifelong county resident and graduate of its public school system, Monteiro, 36, is making a bid for local elected office after years of working in the White House.

PG GRAD AUDIT: Donna St. George of the Post reports that Maryland officials have hired a Washington-based firm to audit graduation rates in the Prince George’s County’s public school system, following recent claims that grades and credit counts were tampered with to inflate the district’s performance. State officials announced Tuesday that Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services will begin work on the project immediately and deliver a final report Oct. 31.

NORRIS TO RETIRE FOR UM POLICY SCHOOL: Donald Norris, the director of the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s School of Public Policy and a leading commentator on Maryland and national politics, will retire Friday after 28 years at the university, Samuel Manas writes for Maryland Matters. Norris published seven books and was the founding editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Electronic Government Research. An expert on the relationship between government and technology, Norris has been quoted frequently in The Baltimore Sun, among other outlets, and has appeared on CBS Baltimore.

SCHOOL BANS REDSKINS LOGO: A private school in North Bethesda is banning apparel with the Washington Redskins team name or logo after concluding “we cannot continue to allow children or staff members—however well intentioned—to wear clothing that disparages a race of people,” Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports.