Tue June 10, 2014
Early Voting, Cove Point, Summer School, Food Trucks, & Water And Sewer Line Insurance
Early voting starts this week. The Cove Point project takes another step forward. Baltimore officials stress attendance as summer school nears. The Baltimore City Council approves a plan that would lead to more opportunities for food trucks. Water and sewer line insurance in the city will likely be available by fall. The Federal government considers a vacant office building near Baltimore’s Lexington Market into a shelter for children caught entering the country illegally. And much more.
Early Voting Period Nears: Maryland’s primary election is fast approaching. Election Day itself is two weeks from today, on Tuesday, June 24th. But voters who’ve already made up their minds don’t have to wait until then; Maryland’s early voting period begins this week… running from Thursday, June 12th through next Thursday June 19th. Registered voters will be able to cast ballots in early voting centers in every county and Baltimore City between 10am and 8pm each day. Some jurisdictions will have as many as 8 early voting centers, and you can vote at any of the centers in the jurisdiction in which you live. Sample ballots have been mailed to voters. You can also access a sample ballot online through the State Election Board’s website (linked here).
Feds Eye Former SSA Complex To House Immigrants: The Federal government is considering turning a vacant office building near Baltimore’s Lexington Market into a shelter for children caught entering the country illegally. The Baltimore Sun notes that the nation’s Southwest border has seen a surge of immigrants in recent week, including many children from Central America. The idea of housing some of the children at the former Social Security Administration buildings on the 300 block of North Greene Street is running into opposition from lawmakers. US Senator Barbara Mikulski says that she’s concerned about the health and safety consequences of keeping children there; Mikulski is urging the federal government to look at other buildings in Maryland for the task. US Senator Ben Cardin is expected to oppose the idea as well. Baltimore City Councilman Bill Cole, whose district includes the former SSA complex, is also against the proposal, saying he doesn’t think it would be the “best use for the facility.”
Cove Point: Plans to bring a Liquefied Natural Gas Export facility to Cove Point in Southern Maryland took another step forward yesterday. Energy company Dominion announced that is has formally accepted the conditions that Maryland’s Public Service Commission has set for the project. Last month, the PSC put out nearly 180 conditions… including a requirement that Dominion contribute $48-million to funds set up for clean energy, energy efficiency, and utility bill assistance. Now that Dominion has agreed to those terms, the Baltimore Sun reports that the energy company will continue to seek necessary federal approval for the Cove Point project.
Baltimore’s Summer School Program: Summer school will soon get underway in Baltimore. And city officials will work to make sure kids who go attend all their classes – so that they can advance to the next grade. Two years ago, about 79 percent of sixth graders who went to summer school were allowed to enter seventh grade. Last year, only 42 percent did. That’s due in part to a change in the attendance requirement last year. Kids who attend summer school in Baltimore now have to go to 95 percent of classes to be recommended for advancement. City school officials tell the Baltimore Sun that they hope to turn the advancement rate around this year – by making efforts to increase attendance. More than 66-hundred Baltimore students are expected to attend summer school, starting late this month.
Water And Sewer Line Insurance: Baltimore homeowners looking to buy insurance for their water and sewer lines will likely have to wait until the fall. Last month, the city approved a plan to allow homeowners to purchase HomeServe USA's insurance at about $9 per month. Homeowners are responsible for water and sewer lines that lead from the main to their homes, and as those pipes grow older, they are at increasing risk of breaking – potentially leading to costly repairs. But the city tells the Baltimore Sun that if a contractor breaks a pipe during an upcoming system-wide overhaul of water meters due to negligence, that contractor will be liable for fixing it.
Food Truck Legislation: Food trucks could soon be allowed to operate in new locations in Baltimore, under a bill approved by the City Council yesterday. The measure will let the city’s Department of General Services create new “food truck zones,” adding to the nine areas that food trucks are already allowed to cluster within the city. The Baltimore Sun reports that the legislation will also allow food trucks to operate on streets around the city, as long as they follow meter restrictions, and remain far enough away from brick-and-mortar restaurants and schools.
‘Round The Clock Cocktails At Baltimore Casino: When Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino opens this summer, patrons will be able to order cocktails 24-7. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the casino's feature bar called 14forty will serve cocktails around-the-clock. The three-level venue will also include a stage for live entertainment and a two-story video screen.
Worcester County’s Budget: Worcester County lawmakers have approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year – one that keeps the property tax rate stable. The move means that the county will receive about half a million dollars less in property tax revenue this year, because assessed values declined slightly. Worcester’s $8.5-million spending plan expects that an increase in income tax revenue this year will more than offset the decrease in property tax revenue. The Daily Times reports that Worcester is also expecting to receive about $1.8-million more in local tax revenue, mostly due to Ocean City’s hotel room tax.
Pedestrian Safety On The Eastern Shore: Maryland officials are teaming up with their counterparts in Delaware to launch a summer pedestrian safety campaign in both states. As part of the "Walk Smart" effort, pedestrians will be reminded to cross streets using crosswalks and signals at summer travel destinations by the Atlantic, including Ocean City and the Delaware beaches. Messages will also be aimed at drivers to look for and stop for pedestrians.
Baltimore’s Independence Day Festivities: The big Fourth of July celebration is returning to the Baltimore waterfront again this year. There will be entertainment starting at 4 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, followed by the 9:30 fireworks show choreographed to music. Rash field will also host a beach volleyball tournament on Independence Day.
Bunny Costume Stolen In College Park: Prince George's County police are on the lookout for a burglar who stole a bunny costume from a storage shed in College Park. Employees discovered that the shed had been broken into this past Friday, and when officers arrived, they found the only thing missing was the six-foot-tall bunny suit with grey and white coloring and a pink nose and ears. In a statement released by the Prince George's County Police department, officials said, "Unfortunately, we aren't joking."
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox in last night’s game; the score was 4 to 0. The O’s look to do it again tonight as the teams’ series continues; first pitch is set for 7:05pm at Camden Yards.
Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants last night; the score there was 9 to 2.