State Roundup: Health Dept. sued by nursing home residents; Moore Signs Budget, Safety, Juvenile Justice Bills; Hogan Declares He is Pro-Choice

State Roundup: Health Dept. sued by nursing home residents; Moore Signs Budget, Safety, Juvenile Justice Bills; Hogan Declares He is Pro-Choice

What were those two unusual flags behind Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday? They are flags of Australia as Moore joined State of South Australia Premier Peter Malinaukas to renew an economic memorandum of understanding between Maryland and South Australia. On the far right is Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, a native of Down Under. Governor's Office photo

LACK OF NURSING HOME INSPECTIONS BRINGS LAWSUIT TO MD DEPT. OF HEALTH: The Maryland Department of Health is failing in its duty to regularly inspect nursing facilities in the state and investigate complaints from residents, allowing dangerously poor quality care to go undetected, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Baltimore. The complaint, filed Wednesday by five anonymous nursing home residents with mobility impairments and complex health needs, accuses the state health department of discriminating against residents with disabilities, who are particularly vulnerable to neglect and mistreatment when a facility’s poor performance isn’t corrected. Angela Roberts/The Baltimore Sun 

MOORE SIGNS BUDGET, SAFETY AND JUVENILE JUSTICE BILLS: Gov. Wes Moore signed Maryland’s budget into law Thursday, along with a raft of public safety bills and controversial juvenile justice legislation that expands the state’s jurisdiction over children. The new laws will expedite resources to crime victims, help retain and recruit cops and create a first-in-the-nation center to study gun violence as a public health issue. Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner

ANNE ARUNDEL SBA CLOSING ENDING KEY BRIDGE FINANCIAL HELP: One of three SBA locations established to assist those financially impacted by the loss of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is closing due to a declining number of people using its services. Since the centers were established in early April, the SBA has provided small businesses affected by the bridge collapse with about $2,470,000 of loan assistance and has approved $5,340,000 worth of assistance for 173 applicants, Jeffery said. Dana Munro/Baltimore Sun

HOGAN DECLARES HE IS PRO-CHOICE, RELEASES NEW AD: Republican Larry Hogan on Thursday sought to undercut Democrats’ plans to eviscerate him on abortion rights and his bipartisan image, with the newly minted Senate nominee and former governor describing himself as “pro-choice” for the first time and releasing an ad with footage of prominent Democrats praising his two-term tenure. Erin Cox/The Washington Post

MCPS GETS $26 MILLION MORE AND COUNTY BUDGET UP 4.9%: In a straw vote Thursday, the Montgomery County Council preliminarily approved a $7.1 billion county operating budget for fiscal year 2025, which includes $26.3 million more for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) than had been allocated in County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposed spending plan. Elrich’s $7.1 billion budget proposal represents a 4.9% increase from the current fiscal year’s budget. Ginny Bixby/MOCO360

POLICYMAKERS LOOK TO REMAKE BAY CLEANUP PROGRAM: Federal and state environmental officials have acknowledged for the past couple of years that states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will fall short of meeting some of their pollution reduction and resiliency goals by the federally prescribed 2025 deadlines. But policymakers, scientists, academics and advocates continue to focus on both the 2025 objectives and a new set of imperatives that reflect both the progress and the challenges in Bay cleanup that remain.  Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters 

MORE SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AT DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE SERVICES FACILITIES: Another 24 men and women joined more than 200 other plaintiffs who say Maryland Department of Juvenile Services staff sexually abused them while they were incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities as children. A new complaint filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court by the New York law firm Levy Konigsberg and Maryland-based Brown Kiely said the department and the state failed to to adequately hire, train and supervise staff and to enact and enforce policies preventing sexual abuse. Cassidy Jenson/The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL RACES REMAIN TOO CLOSE TO CALL: Baltimore City Council races in Districts 8,11, and 12 remained too close to call after a full-day of counting mail-in ballots on Thursday. Over two-dozen election judges got to work just after 10 in the morning to count nearly 18,000 mail-in ballots in Baltimore City. Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR

BALTIMORE ELECTION RESULTS SHOW LITTLE POLITICAL INFLUENCE FOR SMITHS: Fox45 and Baltimore Sun owner David Smith and his nephew Alex Smith spent big on failed mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon. “Tuesday was a bad night in Baltimore for some corporate interests and purveyors of dark money, chief among them David D. and Alex Smith, the uncle-nephew team that heads the Sinclair Broadcast Group, controls Fox45 News, owns the Baltimore Sun and operates the Atlas Restaurant Group.” say Mark Reutter and Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew

MICA SEES LOWER ENROLLMENT, DOWNSIZING: The 200-year-old art and design school, which promotes itself online as “an institution that continually re-invented itself to meet the challenges of changing times,” has had its own self-reflecting to do in recent years. The challenges of the past few years’ changing times, including a pandemic-induced dip in enrollment and faculty layoffs have hurt the college. How badly remains an open question for the school both heavily reliant on tuition dollars for revenue and vital to the broader Baltimore art scene.  Dillon Mullan/Baltimore Sun

WHAT’S NEXT FOR LAUREL PARK?: The Canadian-based Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Laurel, has agreed to transfer ownership of “Old Hilltop” to the state after which a nonprofit group will oversee day-to-day operations. As part of the deal, the state will sell $400 million in bonds to help fund a massive renovation of Pimlico.  John Rydell/Maryland Matters

BOWIE MAN OUTSOURCED GOVERNMENT CONTRACT, POSED AS SOFTWARE DEVELOPER: A Bowie resident faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted following a criminal complaint that says he posed as a software developer at a Virginia-based government contractor while a person in China was doing the work. The criminal complaint was filed Wednesday against Minh Phuong Vong, a native of Vietnam and Bowie resident, by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland following an FBI investigation. Dana Munro/The Baltimore Sun

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