March 19 // Number of staffers with health coverage emerges as issue in race for governor in Md.

In Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor, you’re more likely to be getting help with health insurance coverage if you work for the campaigns of Anthony Brown or Heather Mizeur than Doug Gansler. Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor, and Mizeur, a delegate from Montgomery County, both offer employer-sponsored plans to staff members on their gubernatorial campaigns. Seventeen of Brown’s 25 employees are covered, as are five of Mizeur’s 12 paid staffers, according to campaign spokesmen. (Wash. Post)

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Md. Holocaust bills targeting rail bidder would ‘complicate’ French talks, U.S. official says

Two Maryland bills that would block a Purple Line bidder until its French parent company pays Holocaust reparations would significantly “complicate” U.S.-French talks over such payments, according to the State Department’s lead negotiator. The potential to interfere in the bilateral talks deals another blow to the legislative measures. (Wash. Post)

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Mizeur says state has to replace Baltimore jail

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather R. Mizeur said Tuesday that she doesn't want to spend the more than $500 million it would take to replace the badly deteriorated Baltimore jail, but said she recognizes something must be done to replace the "decrepit" state-run facility. Appearing at a Baltimore Sun Newsmakers Forum, Mizeur said that while building a new jail seems to go against her pledge to end "mass incarceration" in Maryland, it would be "inhumane" not to find a way to improve the facility —parts of which are more than a century old. (Balt. Sun)

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Miller: Only Baltimore needs bail system overhaul

Time is running short for legislators to overhaul Maryland’s bail system this session. Otherwise the state will have to spend as much as $30 million yearly to meet a state Court of Appeals requirement by paying extra attorneys. A joint workgroup of senators and delegates is trying to compromise between the plans favored by their respective chambers. Amid these negotiations, Senate President Thomas Mike V. Miller Jr. told reporters Tuesday that Baltimore should handle the problem alone. He said a proposed solution from Sen. Brian Frosh would waste millions of dollars. (AP/Daily Record)

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Andrews: Less for schools and employee raises, more for tax relief, potholes

After receiving Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s $5 billion operating budget Monday, most County Council members said they wanted time to comb through the phone-book-size volume before deciding how to add, subtract or otherwise tweak the plan they will vote on in late May. Phil Andrews, the one member challenging Leggett in the June Democratic primary, came to the conference table in Leggett’s Rockville office with a plan. He said he wanted to divert $40 million to tax relief and infrastructure repair — $26 million from the executive’s school funding proposal and $14 million from funds set aside for raises negotiated with unionized employees. (Wash. Post)

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Maryland lawmakers urge Obama to issue LGBT employment protections

More than half of the members of Maryland's congressional delegation signed a letter dated March 18 to President Barack Obama asking him to issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes, John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen were among the 195 Democrats to urge Obama to issue protections for LGBT employees. (Balt. Sun)

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Dead voters would be removed from rolls faster

Maryland’s voter registration rolls are bloated with names of dead people  – an estimated 20,000 as revealed by a 2013 study from the state Republican party — and lawmakers are seeking a way to streamline the process of purging those names. Currently, State Board of Elections officials must receive authentication of a death from the Vital Statistics Administration, which is under the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. Without that notification, they are not permitted to remove a name from the voter registration list without corroboration from the deceased’s family. The House unanimously passed a bill last week from Del. Kathy Afzali R-Frederick County that would eliminate some of these tedious steps, she said. (WMAR-TV)

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Maryland House considers GMO label bill

A bill under consideration at the state House requires labels on food that contains genetically-modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs. Food suppliers and manufacturers oppose the bill. The question is whether it will empower consumers or scare them. (WBAL-TV)

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