State Roundup, December 4, 2019

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SCHOOL STAR RATINGS SEE MORE IN THE MIDDLE: More public schools in Maryland earned an average rating this year — with fewer high fliers and low performers — under a state accountability system that for the first time included science test scores and the results of school surveys of students and educators, Liz Bowie reports in the Sun. The article is topped by a video in which Bowie summarizes the story.

OPINION: IMPERFECT MEASURE OF UNEQUAL SYSTEM: The editorial board for the Sun opines that those who live in the shrinking number of top-performing school districts will find comfort in this latest report card; “those who live in low-scoring zones will not. … And yet, none of this comes as a surprise. Instead, it confirms what we already know: The most affluent neighborhoods are generally home to the highest performing schools, with the exception of magnet and charter schools that draw from beyond the immediate community.”

ACCOUNTABILITY KEY IN KIRWAN: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that as battle lines harden over how much reform of public schools in Maryland will cost and who will pay for it … lost in arguing about the billions more the changes will cost state and local taxpayers is the key fifth part of the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. It spells out in detail how a new super oversight board will hold the school systems accountable for how the money is spent.

THANKS FOR GIVING ON #GIVINGNEWS DAY: Thanks to the 28 donors who contributed $1,500 to MarylandReporter.com yesterday. We still have 27 days left in the NewsMatch challenge in which every individual donation up to $1,000 is matched by four national foundations. Please donate today if you haven’t already.

SCHOOL SUPER SALMON WON’T SEEK ANOTHER TERM: Maryland’s state superintendent of schools announced Tuesday that she will not seek another term atop the state’s education system. Karen B. Salmon, who has headed the state system since 2016, will continue through the end of her contract on June 30, 2020. The decision was announced at the end of a State Board of Education meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday, Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters.

TASK FORCE WEIGHS VAPING REGS: The head of the state agency that enforces tobacco regulations is asking a task force for help in keeping up with advances in the industry that include e-cigarettes and vaping, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The call comes as Comptroller Peter Franchot leads a task force he appointed to review the industry in the wake of a national health crisis involving lung illnesses believed to be connected to vaping.

GOP SEEKS DEL. CASSILLY SUCCESSOR: With Gov. Larry Hogan elevating Del. Andrew Cassilly, R-Cecil/Harford, to a position within his administration on Monday, the area’s Republican Party is now turning its attention to who to name to fill his seat in the General Assembly, Kate Tabeling of the Cecil Whig reports.

DEL. MOSBY TO SEEK CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SEAT: With a new web video touting his experience at City Hall and the State House, Del. Nick J. Mosby entered the race for City Council president Tuesday, arguing he’s best qualified to serve as Baltimore’s No. 2 elected official, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

SUPREMES INTERESTED IN CARROLL COUNTY APPEAL: The U.S. Supreme Court has shown an interest in hearing Carroll County’s argument that the Maryland Department of the Environment imposed upon the county stormwater pollution-prevention standards more stringent than those permitted under the federal Clean Water Act, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

OPINION: HOGAN PAYS LIP SERVICE TO ENVIRONMENT: In an op-ed for the Sun, state Sen. Paul Pinsky takes Gov. Larry Hogan to task over his action on the environment, opining that “Hogan is no Donald Trump when it comes to the environment. Unfortunately, Gov. Hogan is paying lip service to our climate-change crisis and doing a disservice to environmental protection efforts that offer real hope for our earth’s future.”

ANALYSIS: WINNERS & LOSERS AS ZIRKIN RETIRES: Josh Kurtz takes a look at who the winners and losers will be with state Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s retirement. More conservatives lose than win in his assessment.

OPINION: GUN-RIGHTS ADVOCATES SHOULD WORRY: Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland opines that gun-rights advocates should not be cheering that state Sen. Bobby Zirkin is leaving the Senate. No, he wasn’t a gun-rights advocate, but for his faults, Zirkin “respected the process and respected the fact that laws make sense. That’s not something the new Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chair is going to necessarily be interested in. And that makes a lot of conservatives in Annapolis nervous.”

HOGAN TAPS 2 FOR CIRCUIT COURT: Gov. Larry Hogan has named two judges to the circuit courts for Prince George’s and Washington counties. Prince George’s County District Court Judge Bryon Bereano was appointed to the circuit court for Prince George’s County, while attorney Andrew Wilkinson was appointed to the Washington County Circuit Court. Bereano, son of lobbyist Bruce Bereano, was appointed to the district court in 2016. Wilkinson has maintained a solo practice, Wilkinson Law, in Hagerstown since 2018, Louis Krauss reports for the Daily Record.

WORKERS, EMPLOYERS SEEK CLARITY ON RX POT: Maryland employers, employees and job seekers who wonder what protections and rights, if any, medical cannabis patients have in the workplace are still waiting for guidance from legislators or a court, Heather Cobun writes in the Daily Record.

CITY SCHOOLS COULD FACE $60M GAP: The Baltimore school system could be facing a $60 million budget gap in 2021, CEO Sonja Santelises warned the City Council on Tuesday night, if state and local governments don’t come through with more funding, Talia Richman reports in the Sun.

AMAZON & ITS LONG ARM IN BALTIMORE: Scott Shane of the New York Times writes about how Amazon reaches into the daily life of an American city more than just through delivering packages of all sorts. He hones in on Baltimore to illustrate that point. Baltimore economist Anirban Basu called this a threat to other industries.

MAYOR YOUNG MAKES ODD CLAIM: In a recent televised news conference and interview, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said he’s concerned about a white van “snatching” young girls to sell their organs. But Baltimore police say they have no reports of any such incidents. Young’s source, according to an interview with WBAL, is social media, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.