2-Hour Delays are in effect for Frederick County schools and Harford County schools today. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown addresses problems with MD’s online health insurance exchange. Gary Maynard steps down. Preliminary results of the autopsy of Tyrone West are released. MD’s Minimum wage. And more.
Brown On Health Insurance Exchange Website: Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown held a press conference in Baltimore yesterday, to address the botched rollout of the state's health insurance exchange website. Brown said that state officials are working to identify problems with the exchange – and to fix them. As of yesterday, only 52-hundred Marylanders have signed up for private health insurance through the exchange – that’s a little more than 3 percent of the state’s goal of enrolling 150-thousand uninsured Marylanders by the end of March. Brown says a complete review into the troubled rollout will happen once the exchange is fully operating. Governor Martin O’Malley has said that should happen by the middle of this month… but Brown would not directly address the timeline at yesterday’s press conference. There’s more here from the Washington Post… and you can hear analysis of the press conference from WYPR’s Joel McCord and Karen Hosler here.
Maynard Steps Down: Maryland's Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is stepping down. As the Baltimore Sun reports, Governor Martin O'Malley announced yesterday that Gary Maynard is taking a job in the private sector as senior vice president of the Criminal Justice Institute. The Capital Gazette notes that Maynard will be replaced by Gregg Hershberger, now the Corrections Department’s Deputy Secretary for Operations. News of Maynard's departure comes as a legislative report on a scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center is due; the Washington Post reports that the report is expected to include 18 recommendations, including tough penalties for cell phone smuggling and requiring polygraph tests for all new corrections officers. Since April, More than two dozen corrections officers at the City Detention Center have been charged with federal crimes involving sex between inmates and officers as well as drug smuggling. There’s more here from the Daily Record.
West Autopsy Released; City Council Hearing Set For Today: Prosecutors have released the preliminary autopsy results for a man who died in Baltimore police custody. As the Baltimore Sun reports, the State's Attorney's Office said Tyrone West's death was caused by a heart issue, complicated by dehydration during police restraint. The manner of death could not be determined. Police said West died over the summer after he fought with officers and suffered a medical condition, but witnesses claimed he was beaten. A Baltimore City Council Committee plans to hold a hearing on West's death today – and why it took five months for an autopsy to be completed. But as WYPR’s Kenneth Burns reports, the medical examiner will not be there.
Gansler Releases Erroneous Endorsements: Doug Gansler's gubernatorial campaign yesterday mistakenly announced the support of two state lawmakers who had not endorsed him. According to the Baltimore Sun, state Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher and state Senator Roger Manno were accidentally included in a list of current and former Montgomery County politicians who are backing Gansler's run for governor. A campaign spokesman says it was a mistake in transcribing one list to another and it was a case of human error. Until recently, Gansler hadn’t spoken much about his campaign endorsements; Lieutenant Governor Brown and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur – also in the Governor’s race – have been talking theirs up since the summer months.
General Assembly Preview: Minimum Wage WYPR's Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record talk about state and national proposals to increase the minimum wage and why Governor O'Malley has not yet identified a specific wage goal. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Nationwide Health Rankings: The annual state-by-state rankings of America’s health are out – and it puts Maryland in the middle of the pack in overall health, ranking 24th. USA Today reports there are signs the nation made "a notable shift" toward improved health this year. The report found a significant drop in the adult smoking rate in some states – including Maryland. This is also the first year since 1998 obesity rates in the country didn't go up.
Baltimore County Animal Cruelty Bill: Baltimore County lawmakers are looking to increase penalties for people accused and convicted of animal cruelty. The bill – set for a vote in the County Council on Monday of next week – is aimed at making the animal hearing process more efficient, and increase fines for animal cruelty. The Baltimore Sun reports that the measure would require people whose animals are seized by the county to pre-pay boarding costs. If the measure is approved, it could face constitutional challenges; an attorney who handles animal law cases told the council yesterday that the bill appears to violate the due process rights of animal owners.
Code Blue In Baltimore: A "Code Blue" alert remains in effect in Baltimore City through Friday. As long as the alert’s in effect, Baltimore’s emergency shelters will keep extended hours and emergency workers will reach out to vulnerable residents to protect them from the cold. Night temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s and upper teens over the next several days. The Baltimore News Journal has more here.
Zoo Asks For Lion Name Votes: Voting is underway to name the new lion cubs at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. As the Baltimore Sun reports, the brother and sister were born in early October, but their mother died giving birth. Voting will continue through December 19th. You can see the name choices and cast your vote at marylandzoo.org.
Baltimore Football: The December 22nd matchup between the Ravens and New England Patriots is being "flexed" out of primetime. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the game at M&T Bank Stadium was originally set for 8:30 p.m. on NBC, but was moved to 4:25 p.m. as part of the NFL's "flex" scheduling. The Ravens game will now be on CBS and NBC will broadcast the Chicago Bears at the Philadelphia Eagles for its Sunday night game.