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Acting Director Takes Over as Head of State’s Opioid Command Center

The acting director of the Maryland's Opioid Operational Command Center will take over as executive director on a full-time basis, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced Wednesday. Robin Rickard, who had been the agency's deputy director, took over as acting director when Steve Schuh was named deputy secretary of health care financing and Medicaid for the Maryland Department of Health. The Opioid Operational Command Center facilitates collaboration between state and local public health, human services, education, and public safety agencies to combat opioid addiction in the state.“Here in Maryland, we have been shining a spotlight on the heroin and opioid...

Speaker Selects Two to Serve on New Sports Betting Commission

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) has filled two slots on a new state panel that will help determine which firms can run a legal sportsbook in Maryland.She has appointed Cassandra Stevenson and Frank Turner to the seven-member Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC).Stevenson is senior vice president and head of corporate tax at Raymond James Financial, the speaker’s office said in a press release. A Montgomery County resident, she is responsible for tax compliance and reporting for the firm and all of its subsidiaries.Turner served six terms in the House of Delegates, from 1995 to 2019. A Howard...

Pittman to Alden: ‘We’re Not Ready to Give Up’

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) started his weekly press briefing on Tuesday – for the first time in many months – with a topic other than the COVID-19 pandemic.“I want to talk about something else first, something that I actually think is a greater threat and of more importance in our community right now, which is the acquisition of our one local newspaper, the Capital Gazette, by Alden Global Capital, and some actions that they've taken recently,” Pittman said.He also released an open letter on Tuesday, which he sent to the hedge fund’s leaders, pleading with them...

MTA to Return to Full MARC and Commuter Bus Service in Late Summer

The state’s MARC Rail and Commuter Bus lines will return to full service on August 30, the Maryland Transit Administration announced on Monday.As COVID restrictions ease and life gets back to normal, officials said the return to pre-pandemic schedules is intended to help people get to work, school, medical appointments and entertainment.The MTA reduced service last year, in response to significant drops in ridership.MARC has operated under an “enhanced” “R” schedule since November 2020, while commuter buses has run on an “S” schedule.The agency announced that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) has authorized the use of federal funds...

Report Finds Maryland Ranks 24th State In The Nation For Child Well-Being

A report released Monday found that Maryland has declined in its overall rating for child well-being, ranking 24th of 50 states.The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual report that analyzes how families in every state have fared between the Great Recession up to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic based on their general economic well-being, health, education and other factors.The 2021 report, which does not capture the impact felt by families in the past year, found that Maryland dropped three spots in rank since the last report — from 21st to 24th.“The Data...

State Seeks Dismissal of Case Challenging First-of-a-Kind Digital Ad Tax

A lawsuit seeking to block Maryland’s first-of-its-kind tax on social media digital advertising revenue should be dismissed, the Maryland attorney general’s office argued in a court filing this week.Tech lobbyists and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed the lawsuit in February, days after the new tax was enacted by a veto override vote in the General Assembly.The groups argue that the tax is “a punitive assault” on digital advertising and violates the U.S. Internet Tax Freedom Act as well as the commerce and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.In a motion to dismiss filed late Tuesday, the state...

Hogan’s Federal Relations Chief Leaving for National Governors Association

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s director of federal relations is leaving state government to work for the National Governors Association.Tiffany Waddell is joining the NGA to lead the organization’s federal advocacy team in Washington, D.C., and to work with governors’ public policy advocates from the 55 U.S. states and territories.“Tiffany is the correct choice for NGA’s bipartisan approach to some of our nation’s greatest public policy challenges,” NGA Executive Director Bill McBride said in a statement. “She has strong executive experience leading legislative and advocacy campaigns at the federal and state level, as well as a proven track record...

UMMS Launches Campaign to changeUP Health Care in Prince George’s and Southern Maryland

University of Maryland Capital Region Health has launched a campaign to provide better, more comprehensive health care options to Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland residents in 2021 and 2022.“We understand that everyone wants a healthier future … for themselves, their family, their community. And, we'd like to assure you that we're taking every step possible to changeUP how we care for you … today and tomorrow,” wrote Nat Richardson, Jr., president and CEO of University of Maryland Capital Region Health, in a letter posted to its website.The changeUP campaign is promising better care to Marylanders by opening several...

Franchot Taps MACo Staffer to Head Intergovernmental Affairs Office

Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) has tapped Alex Butler, most recently a policy staffer at the Maryland Association of Counties, as his latest director of intergovernmental affairs.Butler will replace Emily H. Gontrum, who was promoted recently to become the comptroller's deputy chief of staff for management.This is a return engagement for Butler to a degree: He worked on Franchot's campaign staff in 2018 and 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile.While a policy associate at MACo, Butler focused on planning and zoning, land use, energy and the environment, public ethics and information.Butler also was an intern with former state Sen....

Northern Maryland Residents Urge Redistricting Commission To Keep Communities Whole In Proposed Maps

Residents and lawmakers from Cecil, Harford and Carroll counties urged the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission during a Wednesday public hearing to keep communities together during the next round of redistricting.Jim Thornton, who spoke on behalf of the Harford County Caucus of African American Leaders, urged commission members to merge legislative districts 34 A and B into a multi-member district with three delegates. He hoped that such a move would increase the chances of electing a person of color to the General Assembly.Thornton also asked commission members to draw up legislative districts to include just one county, so that legislators...

Maryland Retailers Chief Running for Anne Arundel Council

Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers Association and affiliated groups, celebrated her birthday Wednesday in a most unusual way: She filed to become a Republican candidate for the Anne Arundel County Council in the 7th District.Locklair is the first candidate to formally enter the race to replace Councilmember Jessica Haire (R), who has created an exploratory committee for the county executive race in 2022 and is almost certain to run for the top job. The 7th District as currently drawn takes in the Crofton area and most of South County."I believe our community is at a crossroads," Locklair...

Report: Congressional Ethics Office Investigating Alex Mooney

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is investigating West Virginia Congressman Alex X. Mooney (R) for possible campaign finance violations — including whether he improperly spent campaign funds for personal purposes, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported Tuesday evening.The OCE did not respond to a request for comment, but Roll Call said that documents, and a source familiar with the ethics office, suggest that Mooney — a former Maryland state senator and ex-chair of the Maryland Republican Party — is under investigation. Roll Call revealed in October that Mooney had spent $49,000 from his congressional campaign fund on...

In Dem Primary for Governor, Candidates Race to Claim $1M Raised

Wes Moore on Tuesday became the second Democratic candidate for governor this week to claim raising $1 million since recently joining the race.Moore, the best-selling author and military veteran who formally declared his candidacy on June 7, said on Twitter that he hit the million-dollar milestone after being on the campaign trail for just a week."I'm humbled by the groundswell of support we've seen from every corner of Maryland since we launched our campaign for Governor last week," he wrote. "We have a lot of work to do to present our vision for economic opportunity and earn the support...

Kipke, Haire Holding Twin Fundraisers and Swapping Special Guest Roles

Well, this is tidy.On Wednesday evening, Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) has a fundraiser scheduled at Second Alarm Brewhouse in Pasadena, a coffee house by day and pub by night that uses its proceeds to benefit volunteer fire companies. Anne Arundel County Councilmember Jessica Haire (R) is listed as the "special guest."The event runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and ticket prices start at $100. For $250, you can be a Dalmatian Sponsor, $500 makes you an Embers Sponsor, $1,000 makes you a Blaze Sponsor, $2,500 donors become Alarm Sponsors.From 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the very same...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Maryland Matters' Josh Kurtz joined Nestor Aparicio and Don Mohler on the latest episode of their "Baltimore Positive" podcast.The bulk of the conversation was about Maryland Matters' new project covering climate change in Maryland — and about the first big story in the series, on the fight to bring offshore wind energy to the waters off Ocean City. But the topics also included the state of nonprofit news, the gubernatorial election and, in connection with Aparicio's forthcoming statewide crab cake tour, crab cakes.Click here to listen to the conversation. 

Half a Century Later, Some Charles County High School Grads Finally Get Diplomas

Some high school graduates receiving diplomas in a special ceremony in Charles County last week waited more than half a century to get them.That’s because in 1969, they took part in a racial justice protest at La Plata High School.After no students of color were picked to be on the school’s Majorette or Warriorette squad, a sit-in and walkout was organized.Dale Contee took part.“I believe that the Class of 1969 was the chosen ones. The ones to take a stand for racial equality in education,” she said. “Somebody had to do it, and I guess that was us.”The demonstration...

Pippy Makes State Senate Bid Official

Del. Jesse T. Pippy (R-Frederick) made it official Friday: He'll leave the House and run for the state Senate in 2022."Over the past 3 years, I have introduced and passed meaningful legislation and secured significant resources that not only have been beneficial for the District, but also the County and the State as a whole," Pippy said in a statement. "After speaking with family, constituents and community leaders, we came to the conclusion that it would be best to take that same attitude of service to the Maryland State Senate."As your next State Senator, I will continue to be...

Md. Republicans Rap Wes Moore Pitch on GOP Voter Suppression

Newly-minted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore is catching flak from Maryland Republicans who object to a Facebook appeal from the former nonprofit CEO and author that calls out the GOP for voter suppression legislation.On Tuesday, Moore put out a social media post designed to capture email addresses, a common practice for political candidates. It said, in full: "I'll be blunt: I'm asking for your signature before midnight to stop voter suppression."Maryland Republicans just introduced a bill that would make it harder for Black folks to vote."I need 5,000 signatures on my petition to show Republicans that Marylanders — and...

Policy and Political Veteran Tom Lewis to Retire From Hopkins

Tom Lewis, vice president for government and community affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, will retire on June 30 after working for the institution for more than 16 years.Lewis' looming departure was announced jointly Thursday by JHU President Ronald J. Daniels, Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO and Dean of the Medical Faculty Paul B. Rothman, and Johns Hopkins Health System President and Executive Vice President for Johns Hopkins Medicine Kevin Sowers."Combining peerless experience in Maryland government, politics, and community affairs with a passion for our institutions, Tom has advanced our missions of research, education, and service in countless ways,...

Scott Announces Fund To Help Baltimoreans Pay Security Deposits

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott (D) is launching a fund to cover the cost of security deposits for low-income tenants, he announced Thursday.The fund is set to launch this fall, according to a Thursday release, and will cover up to $2,000 in security deposit costs per unit. Money for the fund will come from $3.3 million in “supplemental funds” from a fiscal year 2020 pandemic-related Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), according to the release.That federal grant funding will cover the program between September 2021 and September 2022, by which time the funding will need to be expended, according to...