Public schools in Central Maryland are closed today, as the region cleans up from yesterday's snow. Parts of the listening area saw as much as 10 inches accumulate; more than 7 inches were reported in parts of Baltimore City. Snowfall totals here from the Baltimore Sun.
Schedule changes are in effect for many private schools, colleges, and universities -- and many local government offices and services. For example, there will be no trash or recycling pickup today in Baltimore City; the makeup day is Saturday.
Federal agencies in the DC area are OPEN under 2 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK.
MARC trains are on an "S" Schedule on the Camden, Penn, and Brunswick lines. MTA Commuter Bus service will operate on a 2-hour delay (except for Route 201; it's on its regular schedule). The snow has prompted some diversions for local MTA buses.
Air travelers are urged to check their flights since many had been canceled as of last night.
A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect through noon today. Baltimore City has issued a Code Blue Alert. The city’s emergency shelters will keep extended hours, and emergency workers will conduct outreach for vulnerable residents.
Leaders Of Both Parties Want More Answers On Maryland's Health Exchange: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record talk about the State Senate passing a bill to help families get health insurance if they had trouble with Maryland's online marketplace, on this morning’s look Inside Maryland Politics. The proposal is now headed to the House of Delegates, and there’s more here from the Annapolis Capital and here from the Baltimore Sun. Also on Inside today, a look at the prospects for a full investigation of what went wrong with the site.
Delaney Renews Call For Switch To Federal Health Exchange: 6th District Congressman John Delaney is renewing his calls for Maryland to switch from the state’s health exchange to the federal one. Yesterday, he sent a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration, saying that “every state… that borders Maryland appears to be outperforming us” in signing up people for health coverage. There’s more here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Sharfstein Says Switch Won’t Happen Soon: Yesterday, State Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein dismissed Delaney’s call for a switch, at least in the near term. The Baltimore Sun reports that Sharfstein says the risks of a transition outweigh the potential benefits.
Gansler Criticizes Brown For Donations From People With Ties To Exchange: State Attorney General Doug Gansler’s gubernatorial campaign is criticizing Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown’s camp, for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from donors connected to Maryland’s online health insurance exchange. The Baltimore Sun notes that Brown was tasked with overseeing the exchange’s implementation. Brown’s camp responded by saying that the donations had no role in policy decisions, and noted that Gansler’s campaign took money from attorneys that do business with the Attorney General’s office. Also in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur; her campaign is taking part in the state’s public financing system, and can only accept individual donations of $250 or less.
Hogan Formally Enters GOP Gubernatorial Race: Republican Larry Hogan has formally entered the governor’s race. Hogan announced his candidacy yesterday in an email after a planned Anne Arundel County rally was postponed because of the snowstorm. The founder of the activist group Change Maryland has rescheduled the rally for January 29th. Other announced candidates for the June Republican primary are Harford County Executive David Craig, Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar. There’s more here from the Annapolis Capital and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Marijuana Decriminalization Bill To Be Introduced: Two State Senators are introducing a bill today that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Senator Bobby Zirkin and Republican Senator Allan Kittleman, would make it so that possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense. The Baltimore Sun notes that a similar bill passed the State Senate last year, but didn’t get a vote in the House of Delegates.
Baltimore Bag Fee Proposal: A bag fee proposal has cleared a Baltimore City Council committee. The legislation would impose a ten-cent fee for paper or plastic bags; it would apply to most grocery and retail stores, including Target and Walmart. The Baltimore Sun reports that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said she’ll sign the measure if it reaches her desk.