UM WARNED ON ACCREDITATION: The Middle States Commission on Higher Education announced on Friday that it had placed the University of Maryland, College Park on warning amid a review of the university’s accreditation, the Sun’s Sameer Rao reports. The accreditation agency’s decision, which puts the university’s accreditation at risk, is the latest development in the aftermath of football player Jordan McNair’s death from heatstroke in June 2018.
- Joe Heim of the Post reports that the commission informed the school that it had reached its decision because of “insufficient evidence that [it] is currently in compliance with Standard VII (Governance, Leadership, and Administration),” according to a joint statement by University System of Maryland Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden and University of Maryland at College Park President Wallace Loh.
- Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports that several specific events were the focus of the Middle States review committee. Among them: the Regents’ decision to assume authority over review of the university’s athletics protocols and procedures; the news conference where now-former Regents’ chair James T. Brady, announced the board’s recommendation to retain then-UMD head football coach D.J. Durkin; and the announcement by College Park President Wallace D. Loh that he would retire in apparent protest – and, the next day, fired Durkin.
- Gaines earlier reported that colleges and universities must be accredited by a recognized commission for students to receive federal financial aid.
HUNDREDS OF NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT TODAY: Among hundreds of laws to take effect today, Monday, July 1, is one that nearly quintuples the number of taxpayers eligible to claim the state’s child care tax credit, which is calculated as a fraction of a similar federal tax break, Scott Dance reports in the Sun. Others include efforts to combat opioid addiction, modernize 911 systems and loosen restrictions on alcohol sales.
- The AP is reporting that other measures to take effect today include ones to protect students from sexual abuse and to examine ways of lowering high prescription drug costs.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that other new laws include a new armed police force for Johns Hopkins, initial funding for a potentially budget-busting proposal to improve public education, and a requirement that online short-term rental websites such as Airbnb collect sales tax.
RACE REGULATORS IGNORED LAW IN AWARDING FUNDS: Maryland’s horse racing regulators have ignored state law while awarding nearly $22 million in public subsidies for racetrack upgrades to the private company that owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, Doug Donovan of the Sun reports.
OPINION: MD’s DRUG AFFORDABILITY BOARD: In an op-ed for the Sun, Vincent DeMarco of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative writes that Maryland’s legislature recently enacted legislation that will create a first in the nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board with the authority to regulate what state and local government entities pay for certain drugs the way public utilities like electricity and water are regulated at the state level. The actions we are taking in Maryland are laudable and should send a strong message to Congress and the Trump administration that innovative, bi-partisan policies are possible, and the time to make real progress for people is now.
NAACP BACKING MAGLEV: Local leaders of the NAACP on Friday threw their support behind a proposed high-speed magnetic levitation train through Maryland — saying the project would produce good jobs for residents, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun. The historic advocacy organization for black and minority Americans will provide assistance to The Northeast Maglev, the company behind the proposed project, in the form of community outreach and education, the leaders said — helping explain the benefits of a project that has raised concerns in some minority communities in the region.
FRESH AIR FOR BAY DEAD ZONE? What if the dead zone that plagues the Chesapeake Bay could be eliminated now, not years down the road — and at a fraction of the billions being spent annually on restoring the troubled estuary? The Bay Journal’s Timothy Wheeler writes in MarylandReporter that as fanciful as it sounds, Dan Sheer figures it’s technically doable. Whether it’s the right thing to do is another question. Bay scientists are wary of potential pitfalls, but some still think it’s worth taking a closer look.
TWO WOMEN OF COLOR HOPE TO UNSEAT HOYER: Hoping for a New York-style victory inspired by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), two women of color are vying to oust the second-most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives. With 10 months to go before the Maryland primary elections, Mckayla Wilkes and Briana Urbina recently announced their campaigns against District 5 Rep. Steny H. Hoyer – the House majority leader, Kaanita Iyer reports for Maryland Matters.
OPINION: LEGALIZED BODYSNATCHING: In a column for Maryland Matters, Frank DeFilippo writes about the Supreme Court’s recent punting of the gerrymandering ruling, writing that Gov. Hogan’s intentions to fix the gerrymandering problem may sound honorable “but really are no different from any other governor who wants to either consolidate or expand power for his party. … Whether the insidious deed is Democrat or Republican, redistricting is still legalized bodysnatching.”
COLUMN: WHAT ABOUT SEAWALLS? Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that a “third bridge to get more cars and trucks across the Chesapeake Bay, wider highways to move traffic along the Capital Beltway — those might be the ambitions of Maryland’s road-warrior governor, but they are fanciful luxuries compared to what could be the major infrastructure demand facing the state in the decades ahead: Seawalls to protect thousands of homes, businesses and farmlands, from Ocean City to Baltimore, at a cost of more than $27 billion.”
OPINION: CAMPAIGNING WHILE BLACK: Dr. David Myles, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes about what it is like for a black man to campaign door-to-door even in a progressive community like Rockville, where he is running for a seat on the City Council. “Never did I imagine that I would have to possibly put my life at risk to be a public servant,” he writes.
AA STATE’s ATTORNEY GETS $100k STATE GRANT: Without a gun-specific unit or prosecutor, the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office prosecuted 931 cases involving firearms from Jan. 1, 2017 through June 26. Alex Mann of the Annapolis Capital reports that, with approximately $100,000 State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess’ office received from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, she’s hired a prosecutor for a year to focus solely on gun cases: intervening in the lives of youth caught with guns to prevent them from pulling the trigger and locking up repeat offenders — those that balk at a second chance.
MORE PROTECTED FOREST IN ARUNDEL: Anne Arundel County just got another 174 acres of protected forest, writes Angela Roberts in the Annapolis Capital. Working with two Crownsville landowners, the Scenic Rivers Land Trust set aside the additional acreage — including a 93-acre property in the Severn River watershed and a 81-acre property in the South River watershed — with money from the county’s Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program, according to a press release
MOODY’s CAUTIONS MO CO ON BUDGET MOVE: Five weeks ago, Montgomery County budget makers fielded what for them was a rare warning from a bond rating agency: Major risks lie ahead if balancing the budget means reducing new contributions to the retiree health benefits fund. Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports that for a county that has not seen its triple-A credit rating downgraded in more than 40 years, it was an awkward admonishment. And when the County Council learned about it, several members were not pleased.
- Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat writes that Andrew Friedson, the only council member to vote against deferring $89 million from the health benefits trust fund last month, said he found out about the Moody’s report earlier last week. “Anything that would jeopardize that bond rating, any warnings about that bond rating have to be dealt with the utmost significance and seriousness,” he said.
- In a news analysis for Bethesda Beat, Adam Pagnucco writes that Moody’s has sent out an “issuer comment” describing the county’s repeated diversions from its retiree health care fund as a “credit negative.” The unusual statement is unlike anything the county has seen in years and could have serious consequences for the budget.
ECONOMIST’s ‘CONFLICT’ DRAWS SCRUTINY: Some Baltimore County Council members are questioning whether to continue working with a local economic consulting firm after a resident raised concerns that the company’s chief executive – well-known local economic consultant Anirban Basu — has a conflict of interest, Alison Knezevich of the Sun is reporting. The council is scheduled to vote Monday on a four-year, $25,600 contract with Baltimore-based Sage Policy Group to work with two council committees that focus on the economy and county spending.
BA CO BUDGET, WITH TAX HIKES, IN EFFECT: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s first budget takes effect today and it includes the first tax increases in the county in a generation. However, residents won’t feel some of the tax hikes right away, John Lee of WYPR-FM reports.
PULITZER COLUMNIST HANDCUFFED AT BOWIE HOME: Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Leonard G. Pitts Jr. said he was awakened early Sunday by police who ordered him out of his Bowie, Md., home and handcuffed him while they investigated a report that a crime was being committed in the house. The report, made to Bowie police by telephone, was determined to be false, Martin Weil of the Post reports.
WJZ-TV’s DeMETRICK RETIRES AFTER 40 YEARS: After more than four decades in the news business, most of them spent with WJZ-TV here in Baltimore, Alex DeMetrick has left the building. Literally, writes Ethan McLeod for Baltimore Fishbowl. We tried to reach him Thursday afternoon, but he’d already left for the day, and when we called again this morning on his final day, an assignment desk staffer said he stopped by around 5 a.m. to get his things: “He’s already gone.”