Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – February 17, 2017

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The Maryland General Assembly session is kicking into high gear in Annapolis with a flurry of bills, several of local significance, being introduced in recent weeks.

Although I doubt it will get passed because education special interest groups carry a lot of weight within the halls of the legislature, Senate Bill 452 seeks to require “the State Board of Education to adopt regulations limiting the amount of time in the aggregate that may be devoted to federal, State, and locally mandated assessments for each grade to 2% of the specified minimum required annual instructional hours; prohibiting time devoted to teacher-selected classroom quizzes and exams, portfolio reviews, or performance assessments from being counted toward the specified testing time limits; etc.”

The bill had a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee this week. My guess is this bill will not even pass the committee because it’s so broad, despite being well intentioned in my opinion. A more honed bill to address standardized testing in some form may have a chance, but legislating how many quizzes teachers can give, for example, is too much micro-managing in my opinion.

Another of note tugs at the heart strings a bit. House Bill 585 hopes to toughen penalties on criminal negligent driving in the event of life-threatening injuries. This bill hits home in Worcester, as it’s a direct reaction to last year’s roadside collision involving a motorist and two county workers, one of whom died while the other continues to recover from life-threatening injuries. Current law states manslaughter by vehicle through criminal negligence is a misdemeanor subject to three years in jail and a fine.

“It only makes sense that when life-threatening injuries are sustained as a result of criminally-negligent driving as they were in the case of Wade Pusey that we pass legislation to bring a more just penalty to those convicted of causing life-threatening injuries with a vehicle,” said Carozza.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was in Salisbury this week to make several funding announcements. Hogan, a Republican, has without question been the most prominently seen governor on the Eastern Shore in recent decades. Although facts don’t back it up on his schedule of events, it feels like once a month he’s on the shore announcing some sort of good news for residents.

Along with the $1 million funding infusion from the state for Salisbury’s downtown revitalization plan, Hogan’s fiscal year 2018 budget includes $2 million for the beach replenishment program for Ocean City as part of the ongoing partnership between the town, the county, the state and the federal government. Also included for Worcester is $681,000 for Atlantic General Hospital’s new research and cancer center, $200,000 for Ocean City’s 64th Street public boat ramp project, $101,250 for a new secured entrance at the Joan W. Jenkins Foundation facility on Route 50 in West Ocean City and $50,000 for the new public library in Berlin.

Finally, Hogan announced the state will invest nearly $368 million in transportation projects on the Lower Shore. The funding includes finishing the rehabilitation of the U.S. 13 bridges in Pocomoke, re-decking 11 bridges along the U.S. 50 Salisbury bypass and continued funding for the dualization of Route 113 in Worcester County.

Mary Chapin Carpenter said in her song, “The Bug,” that “Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, Sometimes you’re the ball.”

Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman invoked that line this week at a Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, acknowledging he was the ball this week after being on the losing side of a couple arguments this week.

Hartman has assumed the role that every government body needs — a questioner. He’s not the only council member raising his or her voice on matters, but he has shown a penchant for openly questioning and slowing issues down with specific concerns and objections. Case in point this week was his repeated request to view the expenditures associated with the special events being produced by the town’s chosen vendor.

Government and elected bodies work best when there’s someone raising questions about issues. Not only is discourse better for the media, making news of the day more digestible for the general public, it makes for better representation for the residents being served.

The Board of License Commissioners in Worcester County was right to turn away three requests from beer and wine stores to add liquor.

This was a predictable consequence of Worcester County closing its retail stores, but it’s way too much too fast, and the board was right to hold off those requests at this time.

None of the license requests made this week merited approval. The cases were simply not made for a need. One year from now, perhaps representatives for the store owners can change the board’s opinion, but this was not the time to grant these changes.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.