Josh Kurtz: Snow Job

A successful politician knows a thing or two about snow jobs. So the politics of a blizzard is always something to behold, as promises — and disappointments — are piled high, much like the gray icebergs now everywhere on our streets. The name Michael Bilandic may not be too familiar in these parts, but most pols probably have nightmares about his experience, whether they know of him or not. Bilandic was the acting mayor of Chicago — having succeeded the legendary Richard J. Daley after he died — when a crippling blizzard hit the city in early 1979, just weeks before he was up for a full term. The city’s response to the storm was so inept that voters booted Bilandic in the Democratic primary. (But in one of those only-in-Illinois tales of political redemption, Bilandic was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court in 1984 and to the state Supreme Court... Continue reading
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Virginia lawmakers moving to approve delay in stormwater regulations

Virginia's lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to suspend that state's new stormwater regulations until at least 2011, according to the Virgina Association of Counties and the Home Builders Association of Virginia. The Builders Association's latest legislative update reports that a tentative agreement has been reached among a group of business organizations, local governments, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the James River Association and the Nature Conservancy on a temporary suspension of new stormwater regulations. The delay would give more time for study. According to a legislative update from the Virginia Association of Counties, the legislation moving through the Virginia Senate now provides that the technical criteria and “local program criteria and delegation procedures” of the stormwater regulations “shall become effective within 280 days after the establishment by the (EPA) of the Chesapeake Bay-wide (TMDL ) but in any event no later than Dec. 1, 2011.” The projected date of the EPA's... Continue reading
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State Medicaid reductions leave hospitals and health care providers struggling over what to cut

By Julekha Dash Slashes to the state’s Medicaid budget could mean cuts to jobs and community outreach programs at hospitals, bigger health care tabs and more patients relying on emergency rooms rather than the doctor’s office to get treatment. Last month, Gov. Martin O’Malley proposed cutting $123 million from Medicaid for the 2011 budget, to help the state plug a $2 billion deficit. The state will likely cut payments to hospitals and require them to pay a fee to make up for the Medicaid funding gap. The state also cut $179 million out of the Medicaid budget for fiscal 2010, which ends June 30. The state’s funding for Medicaid is getting squeezed at a time when demand for government health insurance for the poor is growing. The state now has 850,000 Medicaid enrollees — 100,000 more than it did a year ago, Maryland Medicaid Director John Folkemer said. As the economy... Continue reading
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Self-Help: The Overlooked Unemployment Insurance Remedy

By Clayton A. Mitchell, Esquire Associate Member, DLLR Board of Appeals “The unemployment insurance tax rate is tripling”. “The jobless are exhausting their benefits”. These two recurrent themes dominate this year’s Maryland economic news. While both issues are critically important to their respective constituency, their solutions appear mutually exclusive: extend benefits and raise taxes or cut off benefits and ease taxes. Neither solution is politically palatable. However, what some employers and claimants fail to realize is that hiding in plain sight is an alternate solution: not to permit the conditions which make taxes rise or benefits stop occur in the first place. While this admittedly simple solution cannot pertain to all situations due to the harsh current economy, there are many instances where it could effectively apply. In my 16 years as an Associate Member on the Maryland DLLR Board of Appeals (which reviews unemployment insurance tax and benefit cases on... Continue reading
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An Op-Ed Response -- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: New stormwater rules won't increase costs

Editor's Note: The Chesapeake Bay Federation contacted Center Maryland and asked for an opportunity to respond to recent opinion pieces published on the state's proposed new stormwater regulations. By Kim Coble We interrupt the sky-is-falling rhetoric on the state’s new stormwater regulations for a few facts. The new rules will most likely reduce costs for many builders. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 15-80 percent lower capital costs when builders use low-impact stormwater strategies similar to those required in the new state regulations. The agency arrived at those figures after evaluating 17 different case studies. Even in redevelopment settings, stormwater management does not have to raise costs, especially when several options are included as alternatives for meeting the state’s requirement in the regulations as they currently exist. It is incorrect to say these regulations will cause costs to go up. Everyone needs to keep this fact in mind when they hear... Continue reading
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