Wed October 2, 2013
The Partial Federal Government Shutdown Continues and MD’s New Gun Law Takes Effect
The partial shutdown of the federal government enters a second day – affecting tens of thousands of Maryland workers. Plus: an attempt to block the implementation of MD’s new gun law is denied, police enforce a new ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving, and more.
Partial Federal Government Shutdown Continues; Tens of thousands of the 300-thousand federal workers who live in Maryland have been furloughed, as the partial shutdown of the federal government continues. As the Frederick News Post reports, Senator Mikulski is backing legislation that would ensure federal workers get back pay once their current furloughs are done; a similar bill is being co-sponsored in the House by Congressmen John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen. Governor Martin O’Malley’s office estimates that the shutdown will cost the state’s economy about $15-million a day, including some 5-million in lost sales and income taxes. O’Malley tells the Washington Post the state could tap into a $100-million fund that the General Assembly had created to mitigate the consequences of sequestration. MARC trains will continue to operate on their regular schedules this morning and this afternoon… but MTA officials say they’re prepared to reevaluate those schedules if the shutdown leads to a significant drop in ridership. It looks like one of the effects will be the cancelation of Saturday’s scheduled football game between Navy and Air Force; Naval Academy officials tell the Capital Gazette that the Department of Defense has suspended all intercollegiate athletic contests at service academies while the government is in shutdown mode. The United States Naval Academy is staying open to the public during the federal shutdown, but services will be drastically cut, and some classes will be canceled because not all military instructors are able to substitute for civilian professors. There’s more on the shutdown here from the Baltimore Sun. And WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler have more, on today’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Health Insurance Exchanges Open: The partial shutdown of the federal government comes as Republicans in the House insist on including a measure weakening the Affordable Care Act in any legislation that would fund the federal government. And yesterday, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act opened in Maryland. Our state’s exchange is called the Maryland Health Connection… and the Baltimore Sun reports that it got off to a rocky start, with web site problems surfacing almost immediately after the exchange opened yesterday morning. State officials apologized for the delays, and urged uninsured Marylanders to keep trying.
Gun Law Takes Effect: A federal judge has refused to block the implementation of Maryland's new gun law – which opponents say violates the second amendment right to bear arms. In issuing her ruling, the judge didn’t address the constitutional issues – she says that will be the subject of a future hearing. But as the Baltimore Sun reports, she did agree with lawyers from the state that opponents should have filed their lawsuits months ago if they wanted to stop the law’s implementation. The suits were filed late last week, but the law was passed by the General Assembly back in the spring. The court date for future hearings on the gun law will be set tomorrow. The law bans certain guns classified as military style assault rifles, and handgun buyers to get a license and submit their fingerprints to state police..
Cell Phone Ban Enforced: Another new law that took effect yesterday cracks down on drivers who hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. And police are working to enforce that law. Within just two hours, Baltimore County police and officers from other agencies issued 38 citations and 28 warnings along a stretch of US Route 1. A spokesperson for the Baltimore County police tells the Baltimore Sun that the high number of violations shows that “motorists need to adapt to the reality of the new laws.” Violators of the law face a $75 fine or the first offense with the penalty increasing for additional violations.
1812 Privateer Remembered at Laurel Festival: During the War of 1812, Commander Joshua Barney made life miserable for the British Navy on the Chesapeake. A local theater owner brought Barney back to life over the weekend during Laurel’s annual Riverfest celebration. WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn reports, in this installment of our series “Rockets’ Red Glare: the War, The Song, and Their Legacies.”
Violent September In Baltimore: September is now the second-deadliest month in Baltimore this year with 24 people killed in 30 days. That brings the total number of murders this year to 177, a number Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says is unacceptable. WJZ reports that the mayor has put more prosecutors in the state's attorney's office to deal with the bump in violence, but says more will have to be done. There's more here from the Baltimore Sun.