A look at Wednesday's school delays, Tuesday's bitter cold, the 2014 General Assembly session, and much more.
Tuesday’s Bitter Cold: Yesterday was the coldest day Baltimore experienced in 18 years. The average temperature yesterday was about 10 degrees… the last time it was that cold was in February of 1996. The Baltimore Sun has more on the cold here... and there's more here from the Capital Gazette.
Opening Day In Annapolis: The 2014 General Assembly session gets underway at noon today, in Annapolis. Maryland lawmakers have a lot of issues facing them over the next three months… including the state’s minimum wage – which Governor O’Malley says is a priority. They’ll also tackle the so-called “rain tax,” marijuana policy, pre-k education, pit bulls, when the school year should start, and whether Baltimore County should have a partially elected school board. Lawmakers will also work to eliminate a budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year estimated at about $460-million. This being an election year, tax increases are unlikely; some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling for tax cuts. And as the session starts, lawmakers will tackle a piece of emergency legislation being proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley – aimed at providing retroactive health coverage to people who were unable to use the state’s online exchange in the final weeks of 2013. That measure could get a final vote next week. There’s more here and here from the Baltimore Sun and more here from the Washington Post.
Gansler Calls On Ulman To Forgo Fundraising: While the legislature is in session, state office holders are forbidden from fundraising. In the gubernatorial race, that means that while democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown cannot accept donations, his running mate – Howard County Executive Ken Ulman – can. Yesterday, state Attorney General Doug Gansler sent an open letter to the Brown/Ulman camp… urging Ulman not to raise cash while the legislature meets. Gansler is one of Brown’s chief rivals for the democratic nomination; both Gansler and his running mate – Prince George’s County Delegate Jolene Ivey – are banned from fundraising once the session’s underway. Ulman earlier said he would accept donations during the session. A legal challenge has been filed to prevent that from happening, but a hearing on the case has not been scheduled. A third Democrat in the governor’s race – Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur – will be allowed to raise campaign funds during the session, because she’s accepted public financing… but she’s not allowed to take donations larger than $250. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Craig Makes It Official: Republican Harford County Executive David Craig has officially entered the governor’s race. Craig filed his paperwork yesterday with the state board of elections in Annapolis. Since he’s not a state office holder, Craig will be allowed to raise campaign funds during the General Assembly session; but his running mate – Talbot County Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio – will not. Two other Republicans have formally announced their candidacy, but not chosen running mates or filed their paperwork – those are Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George and Charles County Businessman Charles Lollar. And the founder of the conservative advocacy group, Larry Hogan, is also expected to enter the race. Already officially running for the GOP nomination is the team of Brian Vaeth and Duane Davis. There’s more here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore County Teachers School Political Leaders on the Problems with Common Core: Baltimore County teachers say they are being overwhelmed by a tsunami of reforms. It’s a wave that includes the controversial Common Core standards. Members of TABCO, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, met with local and state political leaders. And the county’s school superintendent laid out a plan he says will fix at least some of the problems. WYPR’s John Lee reports.
Do Batts' Recent Comments Harm Police-Community Relationship? WYPR's Fraser Smith and Andy Green of the Baltimore Sun talk about recent statements made by Police Commissioner Anthony Batts about the city's homicide rate. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Casino Gambling Revenues: Revenue from Maryland's casino gambling program has hit its lowest level since the spring. The state's Lottery and Gaming Control Agency says the December take was $65-million, the smallest figure since April's nearly $59-million – which occurred in the month before gaming began at the casino at Rocky Gap, in Western Maryland. State officials say that last month's revenue was 38-percent better than that of December 2012 for the three casinos that were then open. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Cyber Security Innovation Forum Comes To Baltimore: Cyber security will be front and center later this month when Baltimore hosts the 2014 Cyber Security Innovation Forum. It's three days starting January 28th and will concentrate on both public and private sectors. The event is being presented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.
Cars, Left Unattended While Warming, Stolen In PG: Police in Prince George's County are reminding residents to never leave their cars unattended while running – even if you’re just letting them warm up in the bitter cold. Doing so cost at least eight drivers their cars in the past week – four of the car thefts took place yesterday. Police are also reminding residents that abandoning your car while it is running is actually a crime itself, punishable by a $70 fine and a point on your license. There’s more here from WJLA.
Bass Poachers Caught: Two Baltimore County men are in big trouble for allegedly stealing hundreds of pounds of striped bass. Maryland Natural Resources Police say the two went beyond the daily catch limit on the Patapsco River; WJZ notes that the catch limits are in place to protect the species. The watermen face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.