DRUG PRICES BOARD WITHOUT STATE FUNDS: Maryland officials named members of a new board that’s supposed to investigate high drug prices, but Gov. Larry Hogan has not released the $750,000 that’s needed for a director and staff to get the board up and running, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. The Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board is charged with reviewing prices for prescription drugs paid by health insurance plans for state and county government employees. Hogan, a Republican, has declined to release about $245 million of fenced-off money for a variety of programs, including the money for the prescription drug board.
- The governor is looking for ways to staff the board “without a need for new funding,”including “working with our Health Department to stand up the board,” reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post with comments from Hogan’s spokesman.
- Former state Health Secretary Van Mitchell will lead the new board, and said the state is poised to fight skyrocketing prices, reports Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters.
KIRWAN PUSHES BACK AT HOGAN ON EDUCATION PLAN: A commission studying how to improve Maryland’s public schools pressed back Thursday at Gov. Larry Hogan, who recently called the group’s work “half baked,” reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. Commission chairman Brit Kirwan said that was unfair and sends a negative signal to the state.
- Frustrations boiled over at the educational reform meeting Thursday, where Kirwan made his comment and outlined some of the commission’s recommendations – to elevate the status of the teaching profession, provide extra supports to low-income students and expand early education programs, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.
- Hogan’s budget Secretary David Brinkley defended the governor’s comments on Thursday, reports Bryan Sears in The Daily Record. He said the plan isn’t complete until funding is found and that while Hogan supports education reform, he does not want to raise taxes to pay for it. The Kirwan plan “is a cake, like it or not,” Brinkley said, referring to Hogan’s “half-baked” comment. “We have all the ingredients in there, but we still don’t know what it’s going to look like.”
RACING COMMISSION MEMBERS BENEFIT FROM STATE CASH AWARDS: Most members of the Maryland Racing Commission are financially invested in the sport they govern, including several who have won cash awards from a state program managed by the panel, reports Doug Donovan in the Sun. Questions about the racing commission’s practices come as critics have complained the panel is too cozy with the racing industry and its dominant operator, The Stronach Group’s Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico, Laurel Park and the Rosecroft harness-racing track.
STOPPING ROBOCALLS: A coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies have agreed to a set of principles to fight illegal robocalls, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General announced Thursday, reports Heather Cobun for The Daily Record.
- Phone companies will take steps that include call-blocking technology, monitoring networks for robocall traffic and helping with investigations, reports Khalida Volou on WMAR (ABC).
BALTIMORE OBJECTS TO LOSS OF SNAP FOOD BENEFITS: Tens of thousands of people in Maryland are at risk of losing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits after the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed limiting who is eligible, reports WBAL TV. Baltimore Mayor Jack Young joined leaders and advocates Thursday to call on the USDA to stop the proposal from taking effect. In Baltimore City alone, 15,000 people would lose their benefits and 50,000 would lose benefits across Maryland.
- Opponents are organizing against the proposal, reports Wilborn Nobles in the Sun. Young, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and colleagues from the United States Conference of Mayors sent a letter opposing the change to the USDA on Aug. 21. Maryland Hunger Solutions and other groups are also mobilizing.
RECORD LOTTERY AND CASINO NUMBERS: Maryland’s lottery and casinos brought in record amounts of money last fiscal year, reports Amanda Yeager in the Baltimore Business Journal. Together, the state-run lottery and six privately owned casinos generated sales and revenue worth nearly $4 billion in fiscal 2019.
BSO NOT RETURNING TO STAGE: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians, locked out since June, said they will not return to the stage without a contract, reports Tyler Waldman on WBAL.
NEW NATURAL RESOURCES POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Chestertown Police Chief G. Adrian Baker, a Natural Resources Police veteran, has been named as the new superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, reports The (Easton) Star Democrat.
- Baker will replace superintendent Col. Robert K. “Ken” Ziegler Jr., who resigned Thursday, reports Phil Davis in the Sun.
OPINION: BLACK LIQUOR REFORMS NEEDED: Del. Dereck Davis should be applauded for his leadership to clean up Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, writes Lily Hawkins, organizer for Food & Water Watch in Maryland Matters. The truth is state legislators must address major holes in Maryland’s plan that still incentivize dirty energy like black liquor, a byproduct of paper milling, she says.
STUDENTS MOVE INTO UM MOLD REMEDIATED DORMS: University of Maryland officials said crews have finished 100 projects in 19 dorms to clean and control moisture in response to mold problems last year, reports Kim Dacey for WBAL TV. College Park students moved in Thursday with a mix of concern and hope.
ACTING STATE PROSECUTOR NOMINATED: A commission charged with selecting nominees for the state prosecutor’s job on Wednesday nominated an acting state prosecutor and discussed a process for vetting and interviewing applicants for the position, writes Heather Cobun in The Daily Record. Deputy State Prosecutor Kelly Madigan was selected as the acting state prosecutor to fill in for Emmet Davitt, who retired July 31.
FEDERAL FUNDS FOR OPIOIDS: Maryland received $2.4 million in federal funds to fight the opioid crisis including $668,000 in Western Maryland, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The investment is designed to help health centers increase access to integrated mental health and substance abuse disorders services, including opioid addiction.
FIRE WITHIN STEPS OF STATE HOUSE: A trailer sitting within feet of the State House in Annapolis broke out in flames Thursday evening, reports the staff of WMAR. It happened sometime after 8 p.m. in the 100 block of State Circle and the fire was put out.
GBMC SEEKS STATE APPROVAL FOR RENOVATIONS: Greater Baltimore Medical Center is seeking approval from state regulators to begin construction on a three-story expansion project, set to cost about $108 million, reports Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal. GBMC recently submitted a certificate of need application to state regulators at the Maryland Health Care Commission, offering details and a first look at renderings of the proposed project, and explaining why GBMC feels it is necessary.
IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT HITS WINCHESTER HALL IN FREDERICK: When it comes to Frederick County politics, not many subjects have been more contentious recently than the 287(g) agreement, writes Steve Bohnel in the News-Post’s Political notes. The county council is looking at that agreement between the sheriff’s office and immigration enforcement, but the county attorney told them that the sheriff’s office operates directly under the state charter. The agreement provides training for sheriff’s deputies and allows them to ask about immigration status for anyone booked into the county’s adult detention center and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.