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Hogan proposes term limits for Maryland General Assembly

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagMaryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) hopes a term limits bill he proposed last week will end the Democratic Party’s “corruption” and control of the General Assembly by limiting delegates and state senators to two four-year terms.

“Our founding fathers never envisioned professional politicians who spend their entire careers in office; what they intended was citizen legislators who would represent their constituents and then return back home to their real jobs,” Hogan said during a press conference in Annapolis last week. “The rise of professional politicians has led to out-of-control partisanship, the stifling of honest debate and fresh ideas, rampant gerrymandering, one-party monopolies, and an increased potential for the type of corruption that our administration has been fighting to root out,” said the governor.

Hogan’s proposed bill, the Government Accountability Act of 2018, would limit state delegates and senators to two consecutive four-year terms. If passed, the proposal would put state legislatures in line with the governor, who is currently limited to two four-year terms.

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Ross makes bid to take governorship from Hogan

  • Published in State

Alec RossAlec Ross. FILE PHOTOWhen deciding who should be their standard-bearer against Governor Larry Hogan (R), Maryland Democrats who are weary after a year of resistance to President Trump might be wary of another newcomer to politics who has never held elected office.

But 46-year-old Alec Ross – a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and former advisor to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton – says he’s not that kind of newcomer.

“I’ve been in government, but I’m not a creature of government,” Ross said during an interview with the Sentinel last month.

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State will consider terminating parental rights for rapists

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagAmong the first items on the legislative agenda in Annapolis next year will be a bill to allow rape survivors the right to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – which failed to pass in last year’s legislative session when time ran out – will be the first bill on the docket in the House of Delegates and the second bill on the docket in the Senate.

“I’ve been working on this bill with many others for about 10 years,” said Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-15), the lead sponsor of the bill.

The bill would allow rape survivors who become pregnant by their attacker to petition the state to remove his parental rights. Current law requires a felony rape conviction to terminate a rapist’s parental rights.

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“Ease the Burden”

  • Published in Local

Local leaders look to mitigate effects of federal tax plan

Local leaders are bracing for the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which could hit County residents hard by eliminating a useful deduction for high tax states and cities.

On Wednesday both the House and Senate passed the long-awaited tax bill, which provides for $1.5 trillion in federal tax cuts and temporarily the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The bill’s personal income tax cuts were written to expire in some years to meet requirements imposed by Senate rules, while cuts to the nation's corporate tax rate are permanent.

“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker, to help grow the American economy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), who has been pushing for massive tax cuts for the majority of his political career. “This is profound change, and this is change that is going to put our country on the right path.”

While many Americans’ taxes will be decreased, a provision in the bill that caps property tax deductions at $10,000 has become an issue for residents in places with high property taxes according to elected leaders.

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) wrote a letter urging Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine to allow residents to prepay property taxes in order take advantage of the current, and more favorable tax deduction before the new tax cut takes effect.

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Affordable healthcare enrollment up through Maryland

  • Published in State

Maryland HBE logoNew enrollment in the state healthcare exchange is up 15 percent according to numbers from state officials.

On Nov.1, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state healthcare exchange that started after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and allows residents to buy a subsided health insurance plan, opened for enrollment. 5,122 new people enrolled in the state exchange from Nov. 1 to Nov. 6, compared to last year’s number of 3,478 – a 15 percent increase.

Total enrollment, which combines the number of new enrollees with those who manually renewed their plans, is up 100 percent with 10, 420 people enrolling or reenrolling Nov.1 to Nov. 6 compared to 5,212 last year at the same time. The number does not count the 120,000 people participating in the exchange who automatically had their plans renewed.

“It’s been a very good first week of enrollment both at the state and nationally,” said Andrew Ratner, chief marketing officer for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

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Malvo denied sentence appeal

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Greenberg ruled against convicted “D.C. sniper” Lee Boyd “John” Malvo’s appeal of the life sentences he received for the murder of six people in 2002.

“The decision of Judge Greenberg today affirms that Mr. Malvo was properly sentenced to a maximum sentence available for his heinous acts – six consecutive sentences of live without the possibility of parole,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy.

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Computer scientist runs for House of Delegates

  • Published in State

Brian Crider 400x400Brian Crider. COURTESY PHOTO    Brian Crider, a computer scientist, says he was compelled to run for the House of Delegates in District 19 because of his concern for Maryland and his background in activism.

“I’ve been an activist for many years, and we’re just not making the progress we need,” said Crider. “I feel like we can do more, so my goal is to make Maryland better.”

Crider, a Democrat, says that part of what he hopes to do if elected is make people aware of resources that can help them. However, he also has a lot of ideas for things he wants to change.

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Local firm expands to help federal agencies

  • Published in Local

 

Bethesda-based InfoZen has hired 120 employees in the past 12 months and expanded its workspace for developing software to move, manage, store and protect massive databases for key federal agencies.

A key to its recent expansion has been a $208 million contract the firm won in 2016 to work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said Susan Sparks, deputy program manager for the company’s work on the contract.

The company said it has more than doubled its annual revenue since 2015. Sparks said it expects to keep hiring and continue on its strong recent growth trajectory.

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CareFirst files for massive health premium hike

  • Published in State

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield proposed monthly premiums averaging more than 50 percent higher for 2018 than for 2017, in filings to the Maryland Insurance Department for the online health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

The three other companies offering coverage in Maryland’s online/individual market, CIGNA, Kaiser Mid-Atlantic, and Evergreen Health, applied for substantial but smaller 2018 rates that average 37.4 percent, 18.1 percent, and 27.8 percent, respectively.

CareFirst has the largest market share by far over the company’s Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia market area, said the company’s CEO, Chet Burrell. It covers two out of every three people in that area with coverage purchased through the ACA online exchanges.

The public may comment online about the proposed rate increases through June 20. The Maryland Insurance Department will hold a public hearing on the proposals on June 21 at its offices in Baltimore. Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr., said the agency would make a decision by late summer. The ACA requires the agency to approve rates that are adequate to meet the costs of the coverage.

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