Tue March 11, 2014
Pre-K, MD's Health Exchange, Annapolis's Budget, & The Baltimore City Council
Reactions to the federal investigation of MD's online health insurance exchange, O'Malley's pre-K proposal, Annapolis's budget, the statute of limitations for handgun crimes, a look at Monday night's Baltimore City Council meeting, the Walmart slated to come to Remington, and more.
Baltimore City Council Meeting Roundup: The Baltimore City Council has granted preliminary approval to the so-called “Ban The Box” bill. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns reports that the box in question is a common feature on job applications, requiring seekers to check it if they’ve been convicted of a crime. The bill would forbid employers from asking about applicants’ criminal backgrounds until job interviews are held. The bill was amended to let employers ask the question if they’re filling jobs that require contact with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and the developmentally disabled. The Baltimore Sun has more here. Also: The City Council confirmed Niles Ford as the new chief of the city’s fire department. City Council President “Jack” Young was the only vote against confirmation. Young’s spokesman, Lester Davis, said that the Council President personally believes there were qualified candidates within the department. The City Council also granted preliminary approval to a bill that would ban smoking in parts of many city parks. The ban would forbid folks from lighting up within 50 feet of a playground or athletic field or public swimming pools. And the City Council voted to give permanent subpoena power to the committee looking into the city's problem plagued red light and speed cameras. Councilman Jim Kraft, who sponsored the bill and chairs the committee, says he expects the bill to pass on a final vote and that the Mayor will sign it.
Why Walmart Is Still Not A Reality In Remington: The Remington neighborhood in North Baltimore is about to get two big development projects. But residents continue to disagree about what’s best for their community. Tomorrow we’ll look at housing, but today, WYPR’s Bret Jaspers reports on a controversial project that has yet to start building more than three years after City Council approval.
O’Malley On Pre-K: Governor Martin O'Malley wants to expand pre-kindergarten programs in Maryland. The state’s public school systems are already required to offer pre-K to economically disadvantaged four-year-olds. O’Malley wants those programs to accept more children… his plan would set aside $4.3-million in grants to make that possible. State officials tell WJZ they think the funding will help an additional 16-hundred children across the state.
Statute Of Limitations For Handgun Crimes: Maryland prosecutors could soon have another tool to go after people who commit gun crimes. Currently, there’s a one-year statute of limitations for the offense of using a handgun in a violent crime or some other felony. That means, when such crimes are solved after having been cold cases, suspects can only be prosecuted for the crimes themselves, and not the use of handguns during those crimes. But as the Baltimore Sun reports, that could change. Yesterday, the State Senate passed a bill that would give the handgun offense the same statute of limitations as the underlying crime.
MD Lawmakers React To Federal Probe Of State Health Exchange: Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration says it welcomes a federal review of Maryland’s troubled health insurance exchange. The Inspector General for the US Department of Health and Human Services is planning to examine how federal money was spent on developing the exchange’s website. The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley’s administration blames contractors for the problems with the site – saying they failed to deliver promised products. Critics of the exchange’s rollout – both Republicans and Democrats – say they also welcome the review.
Pantelides Unveils Budget: Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides delivered his first State of the City speech last night; at it, he unveiled his budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year. The Annapolis Capital reports that Pantelides is looking to save Annapolis more than $2-million… in part, by laying off 13 city employees, eliminating 20 vacant positions, and furloughing an unspecified number of city workers. Pantelides claims the personnel changes are needed to help make up $8.3-million in new spending approved by former Mayor Josh Cohen.