State Roundup, August 28, 2019

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NEW BAY BRIDGE PLANS CONCERN ARUNDEL OFFICIALS: Maryland transportation officials have determined that building another bridge near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge would relieve traffic backups better than an additional crossing farther to the north or south, Katherine Shaver of the Post reports.

LAWMAKER SEEKS PROBE INTO RACING PANEL: Doug Donovan of the Sun is reporting that a Baltimore legislator is asking the state attorney general to investigate whether the Maryland Racing Commission has improperly awarded public subsidies to the state’s biggest racetrack owner and to evaluate why so many of the horse racing regulators earn money from the sport they govern.

PARCC SCORES UP IN ENGLISH, DOWN IN MATH: Maryland students in elementary and middle school improved on standardized tests in English, according to new data, but math scores dipped at most grade levels. Donna St. George of the Post reports that the results, released Tuesday, mark a final chapter for rigorous exams that Maryland rolled out in 2015 and is leaving behind. For the coming school year, the state is creating new standardized tests.

ALLSTATE, MD TEAM ON I-695 SAFETY: Baltimore’s Interstate 695 was named among the 15 riskiest roads in America this summer by Allstate, and now the highway is getting a $10,000 grant aimed at making it safer for drivers. Carey Milligan of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that Allstate spokeswoman Sharee Merenov said the company has been in contact with the Maryland Department of Transportation and are looking at a variety of potential projects. There’s no timeline for when the projects will be announced, but Merenov said it will be before the end of the year.

HOGAN TOUTS TRANSPORTATION WORK: Gov. Larry Hogan touted his administration’s improvements to Maryland’s roads, the Port of Baltimore and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport as he hosted a forum in Boston Tuesday on infrastructure policy at the National Governors Association’s first Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit., Jeremy Fox of Maryland Matters reports.

CRABS LAGGING IN SOME SPOTS: At the beginning of July, media across Maryland delivered good news for those planning a traditional feast of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs on Independence Day. Someone apparently forgot to tell the crabs, at least in the Upper Bay, writes the Bay Journal’s Timothy Wheeler for MarylandReporter. While supplies were generally ample in the Lower Bay through spring into summer, crabbers in other places had a hard time finding enough of the crustaceans to satisfy their crab-craving customers.

JUSTICE DEPT. SUES BA CO ON POLICE RECRUITING: The U.S. Department of Justice sued the Baltimore County government Tuesday, alleging that a written test for police officer recruits was unfairly biased against African American applicants, Pamela Wood and Wilborn Nobles report in the Sun. African American applicants failed the test at a greater rate than white applicants, resulting in fewer African Americans being hired as police officers, the Department of Justice wrote in the lawsuit. The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, did not include the pass rates, but said the difference was “statistically significant.”

OPINION: HOWARD’s DISSERVICE TO SCHOOLS, TAXPAYERS: In a column for the Sun, Lew Jan Olowski, a Howard County resident, opinions that according to its government, Howard County is racist, classist and does not yet pay enough taxes. But the Board of Education and the County Council have plans to change that. He concludes that it seems that Howard County’s government is committed to transforming the demographic makeup of the community. Maybe voters should change the makeup of the county government instead, he says.

OFFICIAL: ST. MARY’s OK ON OPEN MEETINGS COMPLIANCE: An opinion issued by the Maryland open meetings compliance board last month that the Talbot County Council’s frequent electronic communication among council members over nearly two days constituted a meeting that should have been open to the public should have no effect on St. Mary’s County, officials say. St. Mary’s is the only county in the state to adopt its own open meetings policy that is more stringent than Maryland law, Taylor DeVille reports in the St. Mary’s Enterprise.