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Quick News Updates – The Blog

Maryland Ranks 40th Worst State to Open a New Business

Maryland is one of the most expensive states in which to start a new business, a WalletHub analysis recently concluded.Overall, Maryland is the 40th worst place to start a new business, according to the WalletHub report, which looked at factors important to startups including financing accessibility, startups per capita and college education levels.The state’s highly educated population and access to business resources helped to temper the state’s lower scores for high costs.Maryland ranked 47th when it comes to “business costs” such as office space and labor. The state ranks 46th for office space costs and has the highest labor...

Maryland Unclaimed Property Pays Out $1B

By Deb BeltANNAPOLIS, MD — One billion dollars in assets that belongs to Maryland residents has been processed by the state, while $1.6 billion is sitting in government vaults waiting to be claimed. Each year the state of Maryland holds on to millions of dollars in unclaimed money that belongs to the public and Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot's office just topped the $1 billion dollar mark for processing claims since the program began in 1966.In total, the agency has more than 1.3 million accounts worth more than $1.6 billion in its unclaimed property accounts. In fiscal 2018, the comptroller's...

Mayor Young Vows to Protect Immigrants During ICE Raids

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) issued a statement Friday evening about the possibility of an ICE roundup of illegal immigrants in the city Sunday:“Immigrants who call Baltimore home should not live in fear of family separation and deportation, and I will continue to do all that is in my power so that all Baltimore residents, including immigrants, feel safe and welcome in our city.“Baltimore remains a Welcoming City, and being welcoming means ensuring that everyone can rely on and trust in their local institutions. To further that trust, I, alongside Police Commissioner Harrison, recently announced a new...

Md. Senators Slam ICE Raids as Reckless and Unnecessary

The Trump administration is reportedly gearing up to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrants across the country, perhaps including raids in Baltimore.Sen. Chris Van Hollen in an interview Thursday called the move a “reckless and unnecessary action” orchestrated by President Trump. And the Maryland Democrat said his offices are working throughout the state to monitor what’s happening and “do what we can to make sure that people are treated fairly and humanely.”Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said he is urging the administration to abandon any plans for raids."The federal government cannot be in the business of tearing apart families, including...

Hogan Speechwriter Will Become His Deputy Communications Director

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) continues to fine-tune his communications shop, announcing Thursday that he has named Kata Hall to serve as deputy communications director. Hall, whose tenure in the administration began in May 2015, previously served as the governor’s senior speechwriter.“Kata is an incredibly talented communicator whose work and dedication set the highest standard,” Hogan said in a statement.A Chestertown native, Hall holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to joining Hogan’s office in 2015, she spent six years with the Fox News Channel, winding up as...

Lobbying Shop Adds Ex-State Senator, Other Strategists

A top-earning Annapolis lobbying firm is adding new muscle – including a prominent former state senator.Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson announced Thursday that former Anne Arundel County Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange Sr. (D) and Prince George’s County government senior official Brad Frome are joining the firm. PWRJ also recently added former state Senate staffer MaeAnna Hassell.DeGrange served in the Senate for 20 years before retiring in 2018, rising to become chairman of the Capital Budget and the Public Safety and Transportation & Environment subcommittees. DeGrange has also served on the Anne Arundel County Council and the Maryland Lottery Commission.As...

Audit: Records of 1.4M Students Stored Improperly

The personal information records of more than 1.4 million Maryland students were stored improperly, an audit of the Maryland State Department of Education found.The information, along with records for 233,310 teachers, was stored in plain text in databases and applications without adequate safeguards, according to a report from the Office of Legislative Audits released last week.Auditors concluded that the department should revisit an effort to catalog all sensitive personally identifiable information that it stores and upgrade protections. In a response, the department said it is working with the state Department of Information Technology to complete a list of all...

Hogan Names New Judges in Baltimore County

Three new judges are headed to the District Court for Baltimore County.Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Wednesday appointed Guido Porcarelli, Bruce Friedman, and Michael Siri to the bench after their nomination by the county’s judicial nominating commission.“The appointment of qualified individuals to serve across our state’s justice system is paramount to upholding our responsibilities to the people of Maryland and the rule of law,” Hogan said in a statement. “I have confidence that Judges Porcarelli, Friedman, and Siri will be strong advocates for the law and will serve the citizens of Baltimore County and the State of Maryland...

AOC in DTSS – OMG!

AOC is coming to downtown Silver Spring next week.Superstar freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will be headlining an event with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on July 18 at the Silver Spring Civic Center.It isn’t a fundraiser per se – but Raskin is encouraging attendees to make donations, which would go toward the Democracy Summer Maryland program he runs, offering training to political activists in high school and college. The invitation urges people to support Democracy Summer’s “campaign to mobilize a new generation to win back America.”Ocasio-Cortez was back in the news Wednesday, as she often is. The Washington Post...

2 Powerful Lawmakers Diverge in Baltimore Council Race

A powerful state lawmaker from Baltimore City is taking sides in her local Democratic primary for a City Council seat.In an email going out to supporters Wednesday morning, House Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh (D) is endorsing Odette T. Ramos, one of the Democratic candidates seeking to replace veteran City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D), who is retiring after decades in office.“Odette and I both got our start in politics volunteering for Mary Pat Clarke, a dynamic and tireless advocate for Baltimore,” McIntosh writes in the email. “Earlier this year she announced her retirement, and while it saddens me...

Estimate: 344,000 Marylanders Would Lose Health Insurance if ACA Repealed

With the Affordable Care Act under renewed attack in a federal appeals court in Texas, the Urban Institute is estimating that overturning the ACA would result in almost 20 million more Americans being uninsured and would lower federal health care spending by $135 billion this year.Now the Center for American Progress has projected what the roll of the uninsured would look like by congressional district if the ACA is repealed.Overall, 344,000 Marylanders would be at risk of losing their health care coverage, according to this estimate. The losses would be broken down this way:1st District: 42,0002nd District: 48,0003rd District:...

Maryland Chancellor Search Committee Members Named

An 18-member committee will search for a new chancellor to lead the University System of Maryland.Chancellor Robert L. Caret announced last month that he will not seek a new term after his current one ends June 30, 2020.The search committee will be led by two co-chairs, Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden and Vice Chair Barry Gossett.The other members of the committee include seven additional regents, three campus presidents, faculty, students and other representatives from the higher education community.The members are:Gary Attman, USM Board of Regents Robert Bedingfield, partner, Ernst & Young Aminta Breaux, president, Bowie State University ...

Hogan Nominates Deputy Chief of Staff to Serve as Labor Secretary

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Tuesday nominated his deputy chief of staff, Tiffany Robinson, to become Maryland’s next secretary of Labor. In her role in the governor’s office, Robinson advises Hogan on labor, housing, education, human services, and health matters.“Tiffany Robinson has dedicated her career to empowering people and expanding opportunities,” Hogan said in a statement. “Tiffany’s experience as an advocate for Maryland’s workers and small businesses, and her commitment to public service, make her an outstanding choice to be our next Labor Secretary.”Robinson will replace Kelly M. Schulz, Hogan’s Labor secretary in the first term who...

Picked by Miller, Baker Promises to Rebuild Trust in UMMS Board

Former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has a new gig.Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) informed senators on Monday that he’d named Baker to the University of Maryland Medical System board, which has been expanded and reformed since a self-dealing scandal among former board members, including former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), came to light earlier this year.“Former Executive Baker is well-versed in healthcare, and his reputation of hard work, and ethical behavior is renowned throughout the state,” Miller wrote to James C. DiPaula Jr., the new chairman of the board.The entire...

State Credit Card Purchases Net Nearly $6 Million Rebate

State government’s spending habit has netted some savings.Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) announced Monday that the state has received a $5.8 million rebate from U.S. Bank. That’s thanks to $284.8 million in spending on small purchases by 77 state agencies between April 2018 and April 2019.Under Maryland’s Corporate Purchasing Card program, merchants are paid more quickly and the comptroller’s office makes one payment each month to cover all spending. The state receives rebates at certain purchasing volumes.“Marylanders expect their government to protect their financial interests and to save money whenever possible,” Franchot said in a statement. “The Corporate Purchasing...

Baltimore Forum to Tackle Dangers of Coal Power

On Tuesday, the Maryland Sierra Club and Our Revolution Baltimore will host a Baltimore Beyond Coal forum with public health and social justice advocates highlighting the impacts coal power in Maryland has on the city.It’s part of the Maryland Sierra Club’s launch of what’s being called the Coal Community Transition Campaign, to wean the state’s electric grid off of coal.The Coal Community Transition Campaign’s goal is to secure specific, enforceable dates for the retirement of Maryland’s six remaining coal plants, while creating a Coal Community Transition Fund to provide financial and job training support for coal plant workers, as...

Van Hollen, Colleagues Demand Answers on Trump July 4 Rally

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen has joined with two fellow Democrats on the Appropriations Committee, seeking answers about the cost of President Trump’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4.Van Hollen signed on to a letter penned by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department, and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the vice chairman of the full committee, urging U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro to investigate “the costs and impacts associated with President Trump’s decision to expand Fourth of July events on the National Mall.”“Congress did not specifically...

Baltimore City, Anne Arundel Fill High-Profile Slots

Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) each announced high-level additions to their teams on Monday.Young said that Steve Sharkey would be taking over as director for the Department of Transportation (DOT), while Chichi Nyagah-Nash would take over for Sharkey and become the new director for the Department of General Services (DGS).Pittman appointed Jim Beauchamp as Anne Arundel’s new budget officer.Sharkey has headed DGS under three mayors, dating back to 2012. He began working for city government 14 years ago, as an intern in the CitiStat office, which crunches data...

Military Vet Says She’ll Challenge Brown in Congressional Primary

Here are two things that have been known about U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown since he entered the political arena in 1998: He’s a lawyer with degrees from Harvard University and he’s served in the military.On Sunday, Brown got a Democratic primary challenger who's a lawyer with a degree from Harvard University and has served in the military.Shelia Bryant, an attorney who rose to the rank of colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves, held a campaign event at the Mad Cow Grill in Laurel Sunday evening, announcing her plans to seek the 4th District seat, which takes in most...

Report: Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population Thriving

By Kristin Danley-GreinerThe Chesapeake Bay's blue crab population is thriving and not being overfished, a report released last week found. According to the summer 2019 blue crab advisory report, the overall Chesapeake Bay blue crab population has increased nearly 60 percent from 372 million in 2018 to 594 million in 2019.The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee , comprised of regional and national scientists, develops the annual blue crab advisory report by evaluating both the winter dredge survey and harvest data to develop advice for fisheries managers. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program, CBSAC — which includes representatives from...