Mon March 24, 2014
Young Democrats Hold Straw Polls, Tonight’s Baltimore City Council Meeting, & The “Move Over” Law
The official youth arm of the Maryland Democratic Party held its convention over the weekend, and held straw poll votes on the governor’s and attorney general’s races. Plus: a preview of tonight’s Baltimore City Council meeting, MD’s “Move Over” law, the “25th Street Station” development, energy costs, and World TB Day.
Young Democrats Hold Straw Polls: The Young Democrats of Maryland held their annual convention over the weekend – at which they heard presentations from the three frontrunners for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, state Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur all addressed the group, which is the official youth arm of the state Democratic Party. The Young Democrats also held a straw poll – which Lieutenant Governor Brown narrowly won, receiving 62 votes, enough to edge out Delegate Mizeur, who got 57; Attorney General Gansler came in a distant third, with just 12 votes. The group also heard from the three Democrats running to be the next state Attorney General; and the straw poll for that race put State Senator Brian Frosh in the lead… Frosh got nearly 3 times as many votes as Delegates Aisha Braveboy and Jon Cardin. The Democratic primary is set for June 24th. There’s more on the convention here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Expanding The “Move Over” Law: Lawmakers in the General Assembly are considering an expansion to the state’s so-called “Move Over” Law. That’s the measure that requires drivers to change lanes – or slow down – when passing emergency vehicles parked along roadsides. Last year, more than 24-hundred tickets were awarded to violators of the law. Now, lawmakers want to put tow trucks on the lists of vehicles that motorists will need to move over for. The idea has the support of Governor Martin O’Malley, who says the move would enhance safety for private tow-truck operators, as well as state employees and highway contractors. The House of Delegates and the State Senate have both passed legislation to make the change; the Senate bill is up for a hearing in the House tomorrow. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
City Council Preview: The Baltimore City Council is set to give permanent power to the committee that’s examining the city’s troubled red light and speed camera system, at tonight’s meeting. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns tells us what’s happening with the investigation… and with other matters before the council, including a HUD audit, the “ban the box” bill, and partial smoking ban at city playgrounds. Tonight’s City Council meeting is set for 5pm.
“25th Street Station” May Need Extension: Baltimore’s planned “25th Street Station” development may need an extension from the city’s Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals in order to move forward. The $65-million project would bring a Wal-Mart and new apartment to the city’s Remington neighborhood. It was approved by the City Council back in 2010, and is nearly two years behind its original planned completion date. Because of the delays, the Daily Record reports that the project may need an extension for construction to start, and the Board of Zoning Appeals is set to examine the matter tomorrow. City Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents the area, says he thinks an exemption will be granted if it’s deemed necessary. Councilman Stokes has been a vocal opponent of the project.
Colder Winter = Higher Energy Bills: In the wake of this winter’s bitter cold, many Marylanders are facing high energy bills. A colder-than-usual season has led to a higher than usual demand for natural gas – and that’s sent prices soaring. The Baltimore Sun reports that the state’s Public Service Commission is reviewing the problem, but officials fear some residents and businesses will be unable to pay higher rates. Baltimore Gas and Electric officials ask customers to call with any questions regarding their bills.
“Open Source” Textbooks Cut Costs For College Students: The University System of Maryland is looking to reduce the costs of college textbooks. The Baltimore Sun reports that the system is experimenting with “open source” electronic textbooks; they include information that’s not protected by copyright, picked out by professors, and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The cost of college textbooks has skyrocketed over the past decade – rising some 82% between 2002 and 2012. And the average college student spends about $12-hundred a year on textbooks, according to estimates from The College Board. So far this year, the University of Maryland’s system’s “open source” pilot program has saved approximately $130-thousand for the 11-hundred students who are taking part in it.
Baltimore County Schools Ready New Surveillance System: Baltimore County is getting ready to unveil a $3.7-million dollar security system network for county elementary schools. The system includes surveillance cameras in every school and ways for police and school officials to monitor the video. County officials approved the plan last year following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings and several Baltimore County school gun-related incidents. An announcement is also expected soon on the purchase of more than a dozen portable cameras for use throughout the county.
Cardin Talks About STEM Projects At Frederick High: Senator Ben Cardin is paying Frederick High School a visit this morning. The Democrat is taking part in a roundtable discussion with teachers and community partners about STEM education projects. Frederick County schools have integrated STEM standards into every grade level through various efforts that stimulate interest in math and science. Joining the 10:30 a.m. discussion is 2011 National Teacher of the Year and Frederick County public school teacher Michelle Shearer.
World Tuberculosis Day: Today is World Tuberculosis Day. The state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is joining with the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control to mark the occasion, with events surrounding the theme of "Working Together to Eliminate TB." Maryland reported 178 new cases of tuberculosis last year, marking a decline of 21 percent from the number of new cases in the year before. However, Maryland remains at or above the national average for new TB infections.