State Roundup: Wiedefeld tapped for Transportation; bill would expand civil immunity for teachers; 529 savings plan leaders pledge more communication

State Roundup: Wiedefeld tapped for Transportation; bill would expand civil immunity for teachers; 529 savings plan leaders pledge more communication

Paul Wiedefeld, center, addresses the audience after Gov. Wes Moore, left, announced his appointment as transportation secretary. Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller is on the right. Governor Office photo by Patrick Siebert.

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MOORE TAPS WIEDEFELD TO LEAD TRANSPORTATION INITIATIVES: Paul J. Wiedefeld, who has decades of experience in transportation, was tapped by Gov. Wes Moore for the high-profile job of Transportation Secretary in the new administration. He will face numerous difficult decisions o thorny projects, including completing thorny projects, including completing the long-delayed Purple Line Metro extension in the D.C. suburbs and fulfilling Moore’s campaign promise to revive the proposed Red Line, an east-west transit project in Baltimore. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

  • Wiedefeld had served as Metro’s general manager beginning in late 2015 until he and the transit agency’s chief operating officer resigned eight months ago — two months before Wiedefeld was scheduled to retire — after a training and testing lapse surfaced. The job would be a return to Maryland government for Wiedefeld, who previously served as head of the Maryland Transit Administration and the Maryland Aviation Administration, mostly under Democratic governors. Ovetta Wiggins, Justin George and Katherine Shaver/The Washington Post.
  • Wiedefeld pledged to preside over an agency “that works in partnership with the communities it serves” and promotes “social equity, environmental protection, and sustainable communities.” Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
  • Moore has made transportation and resurrecting the Red Line light-rail project top priorities during the campaign and his young administration. Wiedefeld becomes Moore’s signature appointment and a standard bearer for those efforts. “Paul’s a pro,” said Moore. “He’s a transportation pro. In short, Paul is the transportation leader that we need in this moment.” Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.
  • Wiedefeld will be tasked with leading an agency that Moore has said is one of his top priorities in his first year in office. The Democratic governor’s $63 billion state budget plan unveiled last week included $3.6 billion in transportation projects and another $500 million set aside for projects that he said his eventual transportation secretary would help decide. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.

DELEGATE SEEKS TO EXPAND CIVIL IMMUNITY FOR TEACHERS: School staff would receive protection from lawsuits stemming from disciplining students under a proposed bill from Del. Robin Grammer, R-Baltimore, that is set to be heard in the General Assembly on Wednesday. Kara Thompson of Capital News Service/MarylandReporter.com.

EMBATTLED 529 LEADERS PLEDGE MORE COMMUNICATION: The top two officials of a state college funding agency pledged Tuesday to improve communication while resolving interest calculation issues that have plagued at least 500 account holders. They also told members of two state Senate committees that the agency would look to other states with 529 plans as models as it works to help families unable to access their Maryland Prepaid College Trust balances or whose accounts failed to accrue promised interest. Lia Russell/The Baltimore Sun.

CORRECTION: A headline in yesterday’s State Roundup concerning the formation of an advocacy group “tailor-made for the era of new Gov. Wes Moore,” should have indicated that the group is not affiliated with Gov. Moore. The article about Common Sense Maryland ran in Maryland Matters.

FORMER STATE SENATOR QUESTIONS JUVIE JUSTICE APPOINTMENT: Former state Sen. Jim Brochin believes the strategies endorsed by Maryland’s newly appointed juvenile justice secretary will make the state less safe. Gov. Wes Moore appointed Vincent Schiradli as the state’s new juvenile services secretary, calling him a national leader in juvenile justice reform. Jeff Abell/WBFF-TV News.

STATE TO REPAY $639,000 OVER MISUSE OF AMERICORPS FUNDS: Maryland’s government must pay more than $639,000 to settle allegations that federal grant money from the AmeriCorps program was misspent during former Gov. Larry Hogan’s tenure. The AmeriCorps program had awarded the state a grant of a little more than $1 million in 2016 to fund various volunteer programs in Maryland, including rewards for volunteers. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

  • The alleged violations include handing out Orioles and Maryland State Fair tickets intended for volunteers to individuals who were not eligible under the grant and charging salaries of employees from two involved governor’s offices to the AmeriCorps grant without timesheets or time records to reflect the fact these individuals worked on the AmeriCorps grant. Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew.
  • The civil settlement was the result of an investigation by the inspector general for AmeriCorps into the administration of two grants to Hogan’s Office on Service and Volunteerism, the first of which, from 2016 to 2019, was where the problems were identified. William Zorzi/Maryland Matters.

RECORD NUMBER OF MARYLANDERS ENROLL IN OBAMACARE: A record number of Maryland residents enrolled in health insurance through the state’s online marketplace this year. The health exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act reported that 182,166 people signed up this year for the insurance, known as Obamacare, up slightly from last year but about 15% higher than before the pandemic. Meredith Cohn/The Baltimore Banner.

BATTERED BY FUEL COSTS, COMMUTER BUS CO. FACES LAWSUIT FROM MTA: Ron Dillon Jr.’s company, Atlantic Coast Charters, provides service to private groups, universities and government agencies. Until a month ago, he ran three commuter routes for the Maryland Transit Administration. Now he’s facing a potential lawsuit, the result of his decision to quit one of his routes on a few weeks’ notice — a move he says was essentially forced upon him by economics and the agency’s refusal to help its contractors stay afloat. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.

B’MORE, BA CO STUDENTS SEE DROP IN MATH SCORES: Mirroring statewide trends, Baltimore City and Baltimore County students have rebounded from the pandemic in English, but both school systems saw dramatic drops in math scores on Maryland’s annual assessment of student achievement, according to results released Tuesday afternoon. Liz Bowie and Kristen Griffith/The Baltimore Banner.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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