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Quick News Updates – The Blog

Volunteers Tapped to Set Policy for Reaching Uninsured

A group of volunteer health care experts will help the state launch a new program intended to reduce the number of state residents who lack health insurance.The nearly two dozen volunteers will serve on an advisory group that will guide the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange on the rollout of the state’s new “easy enrollment” program, due to launch in 2020.That program was created by legislation backed by the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative that the General Assembly passed and Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) signed earlier this year.Starting next year, Marylander residents who lack health insurance can check a box on...

Toll Booth Being Removed on Hatem Bridge

By Elizabeth JanneyA toll booth is being removed on U.S. 40 near the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge. The work is part of the Hogan administration's goal of moving toward cashless tolls.In October, both the Hatem Bridge and the Key Bridge will transition from cash to electronic tolls, like the system in place on the Express Toll Lanes, officials say. Tolls will be collected through E-ZPass or video tolling, according to authorities.During the work on Route 40 at the Hatem Bridge, authorities say that one toll lane and booth will be closed, and E-ZPass will be accepted in all...

TEDCO Gets New Board Leadership, Acting Director

Some chairs have been shuffled at the top of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.TEDCO announced four new board officers and a new acting executive director this week. The moves come after high-level departures at the state-funding tech investor, which was targeted for reform by lawmakers in Annapolis this year.The new executive officers are Chairwoman Myra Norton, president of Arena; Vice Chairwoman Tina Williams-Koroma, president of TCecure; Treasurer Robert Lord, president of Protenus; and Secretary Jennifer Elisseeff, professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.Three of the four new officers are women, named at a time when TEDCO is undertaking new...

Maryland Next-Gen 9-1-1 Plans to Get Federal Funding Boost

Maryland’s next-generation 9-1-1 plans are getting a boost from a federal grant.The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced more than $109 million in new funding to upgrade call centers across the country to receive more reliable emergency reports from cell phones, text and video messages, among other new technologies.Maryland is expected to receive $1,707,856.Maryland lawmakers passed a series of bills this year to upgrade the state’s 9-1-1 system.Senate Bill 5 requires counties to notify victims if they are part of a record that has been requested through the Public Information Act and allows counties to consider...

Reisinger Becomes 1st Departing Baltimore City Councilmember to Anoint a Successor

Baltimore City Councilman Edward C. Reisinger (D) on Wednesday became the first of the city’s three departing councilmembers to bless a potential successor, announcing that he is backing Phylicia Porter in next year’s Democratic primary to replace him.Reisinger, who has held the seat for two dozen years, said he would host an event next month in support of Porter, a public health professional and member of the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee, one of at least five candidates seeking to succeed him in the Southwest Baltimore 10th District.“Phylicia Porter has both the background and experience needed to serve the...

Is Sen. Salling Running for Congress?

Is state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) planning to challenge U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) next year?If Twitter is to be believed, it certainly appears that way.Salling, who was elected to his second term in 2018, tweeted his admiration for President Trump on Tuesday and suggested he would like to come to Washington, D.C., to fight by Trump's side."Thank you for all that you are doing Mr. President!" the tweet began. "I am Senator Johnny Ray Salling. I am now running for Congress in Maryland against Dutch Ruppersberger. Praying that I have the opportunity to work with...

Update: State Department of Ed Working on LGBT, Disability Rights Curricula

The Maryland State Department of Education will update history curricula to include lessons on the LGBT and disability rights movements after a push from state lawmakers.Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery), a former history teacher, organized a letter signed by 47 lawmakers asking the department to update curricula late last month.He posted on social media Tuesday morning that the Department of Education would be developing new standards.The move comes as several other states have passed laws to include curriculum focused on LGBT Americans and other groups that were historically underrepresented in lesson plans.The state of California was the first to pass a law...

As the Annapolis Lobbying World Turns, Part 2

More developments in the Annapolis lobbying industry:The Bellamy Genn Group announced Tuesday that it is joining forces with a veteran government relations professional J. William Pitcher, who is joining the firm.Pitcher, who has been lobbying in Annapolis for three decades, had his own government relations shop with his daughter, Julia Pitcher Worcester, but she recently took a job in the state policy department at PhRMA, in the national office in Washington, D.C. Pitcher said he was looking to join a full-service lobbying shop as a result, and added that his clients would be “fully integrated” into the buffed-up firm.Pitcher...

Survey: Md. Surpasses Most Neighbors in Quality of Health Care

When it comes to health care, Maryland is a top-tier state, according to a new survey.The state ranked fourth for lowest-cost health care, 21st in access to care, and 23rd in patient outcomes. Those findings make Maryland the 12th best state overall — ahead of all but one of its neighbors.The analysis was put together by WalletHub, a Washington, D.C.-based credit-monitoring firm. WalletHub asked a group of heath care experts to look at 43 different factors. A random sampling:— What’s the average cost of an in-patient stay at a community hospital? — What’s the incidence of infant, child and maternal mortality in...

Annapolis Lobbying Shop to Open PR Practice

Compass Government Relations Partners, a year-old Annapolis lobbying shop, is expanding into the communications and public relations realm. The firm is bringing on Brian Doory, a veteran communications and public affairs consultant, as a partner.Doory will build a new communications and public affairs practice at Compass.For the past year, Doory has run his own consulting firm, and prior to that, he was the campaign manager for Democratic gubernatorial contender James L. Shea. During the 2018 general election, he was a senior adviser to the Maryland State Education Association.“Brian has worked across the country and in Maryland on some of...

Van Hollen Seeks Answers From Army After Ft. Detrick Lab Shutdown

A U.S. senator from Maryland wants more answers about what led to the shutdown of a high-level military laboratory – and what needs to be done to get it back online.Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy about the matter on Friday.The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick – which handles federal select agents and toxins such as Ebola and anthrax – received a cease and desist order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July. That was after a June inspection of...

As Real ID Deadline Approaches, Md. Lawmaker Introduces Emergency Legislation to Protect Drivers

By Melissa HowellA Maryland lawmaker is working to introduce emergency legislation to address what could be a serious problem for drivers who haven’t gotten their Real ID licenses.Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore, Howard) introduced emergency legislation that would require officers to give drivers a legal document that would still allow them to drive to pick up a Real ID. The law could go into effect as soon as next year, but enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020.According to the Baltimore Sun, about 80,000 drivers have been notified of the new federal law requiring all drivers replace their licenses with a Real...

Mulvaney: USDA Relocations Are Part of Plan to ‘Drain the Swamp’

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney boasted earlier this month about the number of federal employees who quit their jobs after the Trump administration moved U.S. Department of Agriculture research jobs to the Kansas City area.At a South Carolina event, Mulvaney said the relocations are part of what the administration is “actually doing” to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., according to video of the event posted by GovExec.com.The administration announced in June that it planned to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to a new office in the Kansas City area...

Group Urges Lawmakers to Pressure Harris on Offshore Wind

The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus has put together a coalition of elected officials, interest groups and activists from across Maryland’s 1st Congressional District to urge every state lawmaker from the Eastern Shore to write a letter urging U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) to support prioritizing offshore wind energy and other green energy projects.Harris has been a skeptic off offshore wind and has used his perch on the House Appropriations Committee to try to delay or kill the two projects off the coast of Ocean City that are working their way through the government approval process."His actions are putting...

Maryland Sales Tax Holiday Week 2019: What’s Included

By Deb BeltFamily vacations are in full swing, trips to the shore are under way, and nobody is ready to go back to school yet. But it's time to make a list of all the clothes, shoes, backpacks and other supplies your kids will need, because Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week begins Sunday. Along with sales tax waived on everything from jeans and shorts to shoes and dresses, along with diapers and baby clothes, part of the sales price of a backpack is also tax-free during the week.This year's Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week runs from Sunday, Aug. 11, through Saturday,...

Rep. Brown in Central America With Pelosi-Led Delegation

U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) landed in Guatemala with about a dozen colleagues on Thursday, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).It’s part of a congressional delegation trip to the so-called Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.Several congressional lawmakers have already been to the Texas-Mexico border during the August recess – as this delegation will, to visit a detention facility – but Pelosi’s office said they wanted to visit these Central American countries to examine the root causes of immigration and attempt to address the crisis at the border.The trip. Pelosi said in a statement, is aimed...

Delaney, Seeking Donors, Offers to Split the Cut With Md. Dems

Self-funding a presidential campaign has its advantages.Instead of wasting time grubbing for money, you can put your hard-earned dollars to work immediately and hit the hustings in early primary and caucus states. That’s been the strategy for former Maryland congressman John K. Delaney, the first Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential contest two full years ago. He has spent more time in Iowa so far than any of the other candidates.But the self-funding approach has its drawbacks, and Delaney could be in danger of falling short of the qualifications needed to appear in the next round of Democratic presidential...

MGM National Harbor Gaming Revenues Bounce Back From 2-Month Decline

By Jeff ClabaughMaryland’s six casinos generated $149.3 million in gaming revenue in July, up 1.9% from July 2018.MGM National Harbor accounted for $60.8 million of that total, an increase of 4.1% from a year ago, and the gain follows the casino’s first-ever back-to-back declines in gaming revenue in June.Various state programs in Maryland will get $61.7 million of that, including $46.3 million for the state’s Education Trust Fund.The state’s second-largest casino, Live! Casino & Hotel at Arundel Mills, had $49.3 million in July gaming revenue, a 3.2% increase from a year earlier.Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino was the only one of...

Report: Maryland Makes Strides in Cancer Prevention Policies

More than 1.7 million Americans will be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2019, but a report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) shows both Maryland and Washington, D.C., are making strides to bring that number down.The annual “How Do You Measure Up?” report, now in its 17th year, looks at eight policies state and local governments can implement to reduce cancer incidence and death, including access to care and prevention efforts.Both Maryland and D.C. meet four of ACS CAN’s policy goals in this year’s report; Virginia meets two.This year, Maryland passed legislation that raises the...

New Charles County Camera Program Aims to Solve Crime Faster

By Michelle BaschResidents of Charles County can help deputies solve crimes more quickly through a new program.The program, called Virtual Crime Watch, encourages home and business owners who have security cameras to register them with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.Registering doesn’t mean officers will be able to access your cameras whenever they want. It just means your name will be added to a private database of people in the county who own buildings with cameras. The database will be accessible only to law enforcement.Then, if a crime happens near your home, investigators might contact you to find out if...