State Roundup, February 14, 2019

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BILL WOULD FINE THOSE WITHOUT INSURANCE: A coalition of state lawmakers and health organizations gathered in Annapolis Wednesday to rally support for a bill that would require Maryland residents to have health insurance or face a fine — money that could then be used to help them and others afford coverage on the state’s exchange, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

McKAY TOUTS DENTAL CLINIC GRANTS: Del. Mike McKay championed legislation that, last year, allowed Medicaid to start covering dental care again for qualifying adults. This year, he wants to make sure there’s somebody to provide it, reports Tamela Baker in the Hagerstown Herald Mail. McKay told a legislative committee on Wednesday that his bill to create capital grants for community dental clinics will “be a key partner” to providing that dental care to about 38,000 Marylanders who will qualify through Medicaid.

ARUNDEL SEEKS VETO ON BAY SPAN: Legislation granting Anne Arundel County veto power over a new span crossing the Chesapeake Bay faced resistance in the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday as opponents raised concerns about undermining the state’s authority over its transportation projects, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.

  • Lawmakers and residents of Anne Arundel County urged a Senate panel to give them a veto of possible construction of a new Bay bridge, noting existing spans have had significant impacts on local roads, reports Bruce DePuyt in Maryland Matters. Sen. Ed Reilly wants the same rights that Eastern Shore counties won in the 1960s when rumors of a second span first circulated. Those nine counties worried that a super highway would spoil their rural character.

YACHT SINKING STADIUM DEAL? Critics of Gov. Hogan’s quest to lure the Washington Redskins to Oxon Cove in Prince George’s County cheered his abrupt decision this week to abandon his efforts, writes Bruce DePuyt in Maryland Matters. They said the state failed to establish an economic justification for the project, complicated by the team’s billionaire owner Daniel M. Snyder’s purchase of a $100 million super yacht, money that they say could have built the stadium without public funds.

OUT-OF-STATE TUITION CHECK LAX: In the college application process, one little box is worth thousands of dollars: the one linked to in-state tuition. Checking that box for the University of Maryland College Park, for example, saves you $24,600 — the difference between paying in-state tuition of $8,651 for the current academic year versus $33,272 for out-of-state students. But two state audits has found that a system of checking for errors is not being followed, reports Diane Rey for MarylandReporter.

MSEA DEMANDS ED FUNDING: Educators from around the state are vowing to shut down the state capital next month in an effort to draw attention to their demands for raises and increased education funding, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Cheryl Bost, of the Maryland State Education Association, linked the March 11 rally to a larger national effort that has involved strikes and job actions across the country. Bost said teachers will seek an increase in pay in Maryland but said there would be no strike.

STATE ED BOARD MAKEUP: Advocates are trying again for a bill that would add seats for a parent and teachers to the Maryland State Board of Education, writes Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters. A similar measure was passed last year, but vetoed by Gov. Hogan. The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to the measure, House Bill 87, on Wednesday morning, with a final vote scheduled for later this week.

JHU STUDENTS PROTEST POLICE PLAN: Worried about over-policing in Baltimore and across the country, Johns Hopkins University students, faculty members and others on Wednesday protested the school’s efforts to establish its own police force. Students Against Private Police demonstrated days before state lawmakers are to debate the issue — and one year after the group defeated a similar effort during the last legislative session, Catherine Rentz of the Sun reports.

GOP SENATORS PUSH GUNS FOR CITY SCHOOL OFFICERS: Days after a staff member was shot inside a Baltimore public high school, Maryland Senate Republicans from the suburbs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require city school police officers to carry their guns inside school buildings, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

BILL WOULD RELAX BAN ON EX-CONS ON JURIES: Under legislation before the General Assembly’s judicial committees, Maryland’s ban on jury service by people who have served — or who currently face a charge punishable by — more than six months in prison would be relaxed to a prohibition on those who have served or could serve more than a one-year sentence, writes Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

COMPLAINTS OVER BWI FLIGHT PATTERNS: Representatives from the BWI Roundtable asked state lawmakers Wednesday to file legislation addressing issues related to new flight patterns at BWI Thurgood Marshall airport. Erin Logan of the Howard County Times reports that since 2014 the FAA has faced local and state opposition because of a new air-traffic control system, that was hailed as a way to modernize flight patterns and save billions in fuel, but that, critics say, negatively impact day-to-day life.

OPINION: HOGAN & SCHOOL START GOLD: In a column for this Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar opines that what’s best politically for Gov. Larry Hogan and Republicans may not be best for Maryland school children educationally. But in this case, Hogan & Co. see gold to be mined in the 2020 elections. Generating sympathetic voters for the GOP — by championing post-Labor Day school-year starts and early finishes — must come first.

HAPPY VALENTINE’s DAY: THE POWER OF LOVE: Noting that power is often said to be an aphrodisiac and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Maryland Matters is out with its list of Maryland’s power couples.

DEL. KERR’s LEARNING CURVE: Kate Masters of the Frederick News-Post interviews freshman Del. Ken Kerr, who thought he’d be promoting education in Annapolis. But when he was assigned to the health care committee in the Maryland General Assembly, Kerr, who is also a Frederick Community College professor, found himself back in the role of a student.

CELEBRATING CRAFT BREWING: In her column, Naptown Pint, for the Annapolis Capital, Liz Murphy writes that Gov. Larry Hogan, Brewers Association of Maryland leadership, Comptroller Peter Franchot and others celebrated the official start of FeBREWary, the annual month-long celebration for Maryland craft beer lovers. Although the toxic ghosts of legislative sessions’ past have been present in conversations and murmured speculations of what this year would look like for brewers, the shift in tenor was distinct.

HOGAN SPOKESWOMAN TO JOIN RGA: Amelia Chasse Alcivar, the communications director for Gov. Larry Hogan is leaving her post to join the senior staff of the Republican Governors Association. She joined the administration in September 2016 as deputy communications director, writes Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. She will join the RGA as director of communications.

VIGNARAJAH TO HEAD REFUGEE SERVICE: Krishanti O’Mara Vignarajah, a former adviser to Michelle Obama who unsuccessfully ran for governor in Maryland last year, will be the next president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, writes Rachel Chason in the Post. Vignarajah, whose parents fled civil war in Sri Lanka and arrived in the United States when she was 9 months old, said she is honored to lead an organization dedicated to supporting immigrants and refugees.