HEALTH CARE: If Congress repeals or stops enforcing the individual mandate and Maryland doesn’t change anything about the way its insurance market works, state residents will feel the effects quickly, health care experts warned a state commission Tuesday. The commission, whose members include representatives from across the health care industry, as well as a few legislators, must submit policy recommendations to the General Assembly by the end of the month. However, it can continue meeting and working on the issue for another two years, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.
GANG CZAR: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday a new campaign to combat gang-related violence in the state, and he selected Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo to lead the charge, Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports. The Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network is a data-sharing initiative designed to get state, local and federal agencies and task forces working together to “break down jurisdictional barriers and enable law enforcement and prosecutors to target entire criminal enterprises,” according to a Governor’s Office media release.
CUMMINGS’ WHISTLEBLOWER: President Trump’s former national security adviser told a business associate that U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia would be “ripped up” by the new administration, according to a whistleblower account made public Wednesday in a letter written by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. John Fritze of the Sun reports that Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI, was communicating with former business associates “within minutes” of Trump’s inauguration, according to the letter — reassuring them Russian investments would soon be available as the Trump administration lifted sanctions.
2 MD LAWMAKERS ARRESTED: Nearly 200 protesters were arrested Wednesday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after thousands gathered to demand legislation protecting young, undocumented immigrants whose work permits are being revoked by the Trump administration. Those arrested after refusing to disperse included at least two lawmakers from Montgomery County: County Council President Hans Riemer (D-At Large) and state Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-Montgomery), Rachel Siegel of the Post reports.
RX POT SHORTAGE: The Post is reporting that Marylanders interested in buying medical marijuana days after the launch of a state-sanctioned program may already be out of luck. Five of seven licensed dispensaries that have opened since Friday said they have completely or almost run out of flower — the raw part of the marijuana plant that is smoked or vaporized — and have limited supplies of other cannabis products. The other two stores are limiting sales to a small group of preregistered patients.
CARDIN CHALLENGER: An independent political group seeking to elect a handful of candidates to shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate will support Montgomery County businessman Neal Simon in a bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin if Simon runs, reports Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.
FREDERICK SEEKS SCHOOL CALENDAR FREEDOM: As a vote nears to approve the calendar for the 2018-2019 school year, the Board of Education continues to express concerns with the governor’s mandated post-Labor Day start, Allen Etzler of the Frederick News-Post reports. While meeting with the Frederick County delegation Wednesday, board President Brad Young asked the delegation to explore ways to give local school systems more freedom to develop the school calendar.
FROSH BACKS BAKER: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s gubernatorial campaign got another boost from a major Montgomery County political figure this week, Andrew Metcalf reports in Bethesda Beat. Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat who represented the Bethesda area in the state legislaturefor more than 30 years, endorsed Baker in a video message released Wednesday.
SCHUH SEEKS MOORE DONATION RETURN: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has asked for a refund of $1,000 he gave to controversial U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore from Alabama, the same day his donation was made public by a progressive political blog. At an event Wednesday, Schuh confirmed the previously undisclosed donation and said his decision to ask for the money back was unrelated to a report in the “Arundel Patriot.”
BALTIMORE VIOLENCE: The editorial board for the Sun writes that Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh believes we must combat Baltimore’s “out of control” crime by addressing the systemic problems of poor education, limited economic opportunities and disparities in the physical environment that underlie Baltimore’s violence. Gov. Larry Hogan says that what Ms. Pugh is talking about does not constitute a plan to reduce the crime that is terrorizing our neighborhoods every day. He says we need to take steps that will get violent, repeat offenders off the streets immediately and keep them off. They’re both right.
- Less than a month after declaring crime in the city “out of control,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said an initiative she launched is driving down violence in five targeted neighborhoods. Officials have steered resources not just from the Police Department but also the fire, transportation, parks and health departments toward the five neighborhoods in East, West and Northwest Baltimore. Pugh has ordered 30 agency heads to meet at police headquarters each morning to coordinate their efforts, Ian Duncan reports for the Sun.
- Pugh also took the opportunity today to slap back at Gov. Larry Hogan, who announced a set of his own anti-crime initiatives for Baltimore, writes Fern Shen in Baltimore Brew. “There wasn’t anything new announced,” Pugh said, suggesting that most of what Hogan presented were forms of assistance the city had previously requested and that were already taking place.
- Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM reports that Hogan doesn’t see Pugh’s multi-agency initiative as s an immediate solution. “Obviously, things like community centers and summer jobs and free college tuition that people talk about are things that we can address,” Hogan said. “Maybe they have an impact long term on crime, but they have nothing whatsoever to do with immediately taking these criminals off the streets.”
SIGATY ELECTED HOWARD CHAIR: In their last session of the year, Howard County council members Monday night elected District 4 Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty as council chairwoman. District 2 Councilman Calvin Ball will remain the vice chairman of the council, and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa will remain the chairwoman of the Zoning Board, Kate Magill reports for the Howard County Times.
MAYOR’S RACE FUNDRAISING: Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and former mayor Mike Pantelides together raised nearly half a million dollars in their efforts to become mayor of Annapolis, Danielle Ohl of the Annapolis Capital reports. The two far outpaced fundraising efforts in the previous mayoral race and managed to garner a combined $460,133.65 in contributions. Pantelides and former mayor Joshua Cohen raised a combined $195,337 during the 2013 campaign.