State Roundup, June 10, 2019

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TRIAL TO TEST NEW STATE LAW: A trial, that could be heard as soon as this fall in Montgomery County, could be notable for prosecutors’ plan to try to use a new Maryland law that would enable them to bring in witnesses to recall similar alleged attacks by the alleged perpetrator. The law took effect in July but is only now being invoked in cases moving through courthouses, Dan Morse reports in the Post.

ON ADRIENNE JONES: In a profile for the Post, Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox take a look at the new House speaker, Adrienne Jones. They write, “A widely respected, no-nonsense consensus builder, Jones has stayed largely behind the scenes for much of her 22-year legislative career. She shies from media attention — she did not respond to an interview request — and is known among her colleagues for strictly keeping confidences and gently doling out unvarnished truth.”

FRANK KELLY & UMMS: In a piece with new details, Rachel Chason and Steve Thompson of the Post report on former Sen. Frank X. Kelly and his relationship with UMMS. Some say he was always supportive and caring of the system. While others say he wielded power in an unhealthy way. As UMMS grew, “so too did the size of the contracts held by Kelly’s insurance company, financial disclosure forms show. The firm administers the hospital system’s self-insurance programs for employee health and long-term disability. In disclosures, Kelly says he abstains from board discussions and votes relative to his company’s business with UMMS. John Erickson, board chair from 2002 to 2008, said Kelly’s contracts were competitively bid and vetted by the board during his time on it.”

OPINION: CORRUPTION IN MARYLAND NO ACCIDENT: In an op-ed for Baltimore Brew, David A. Plymyer opines that the UMMS/Healthy Holly self-dealing scandals are just the latest in a long history of public corruption in Maryland. He offers six deficiencies in Maryland laws that need to be fixed to help stop the corruption.

HOSPITALS SEEK REVENUE HIKE: Maryland’s hospitals are likely to see a significant revenue increase next year, but not as high as they would prefer, when the Health Services Cost Review Commission considers its staff’s final recommendation for next year, Tim Curtis reports in the Daily Record.

OPINION: BE WARY OF P3s: In a rather damning column for Maryland Matters, Frank DeFilippo condemns public-private partnerships –also known as P3s — and lists a whole bunch of failures by private companies to fulfill their promises, including among the list: for-profit jails, lotteries and toll roads. “Closer to home, the City of Baltimore attempted to privatize some of its worst performing public schools and the experiment was a disaster,” he opines.

OPINION: WHAT ABOUT FREDERICK’S PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP? The editorial board of the Frederick News Post praises the new public-private partnership to build out I-270 with toll lanes in an attempt to ease traffic congestion, especially for those commuters in Frederick County. However, the board writes, “We would be remiss if we concluded without noting the irony of Gov. Hogan pushing so hard for this massive public-private partnership while he has maintained unyielding opposition to a public-private partnership in Frederick to construct the downtown hotel.”

IN AFGHANISTAN, SEN. SMITH RECEIVES BOXES OF HOME: Since Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) was deployed to Afghanistan in March, his colleagues have put together several care packages with Maryland-themed items and souvenirs from their respective counties and districts, so he has a piece of home while he is away, Kaanita Iyer reports for Maryland Matters.

OPINION: THE UNFORESEEABLE: In an op-ed for the Sun, Lila Meadows of the University of Maryland Clinical Law Program opines on the lack of “foreseeability” of a death occurring during a felony, especially for children who commit such crimes. She writes, “I’ve sat in our prisons with many clients convicted of felony murder who accept responsibility for the role they have played in a crime and express deep remorse for the loss of life that occurred but also struggle to understand how they have been sentenced to life for a murder they did not plan or actually commit.”

BITTER COLD: CLIMATE CHANGE & BALTIMORE: In this first of a series produced by Capital News Service, appearing in Maryland Reporter and called “Bitter Cold: Climate Change, Public Health and Baltimore,” Joe Catapano and Abigail Bentz report that climate change will drive increases in global temperatures and summer heat waves. But that doesn’t mean cold snaps in cities like Baltimore will disappear. And climate change could mean an increase in extremely cold weather in the Northeast during the winter.

ARUNDEL BUDGET UP FOR DISCUSSION: The Anne Arundel County Council will begin discussing amendments Monday for the $1.7 billion operating budget that includes about $560 in annual tax and fee increases for county residents, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital.