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Bills Address Student Testing, Teacher Evaluations

A series of bills before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee could, if passed, delay the use of the new student achievement test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

AFT-Maryland Affiliates Oppose Pension Cuts

AFT-Maryland affiliates traveled to Annapolis, Maryland February 24th to meet with state legislators and voice opposition to Governor O’Malley’s proposed cuts to the state’s contribution to state employee pension plan.

The governor has proposed that the state’s promised $300 million per year contribution to state worker pension plans be cut by $100 million. AFT-Maryland affiliates have argued that the cuts jeopardize the financial standing of the state and could result in reduced payments for retired state workers.

Bills introduced to cut funding to higher ed institutions that have members who are in organizations the have authorized a boycott of Israel.

A number of academic professional organizations have authorized a boycott of Israel-- including the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association (which is the professional organization for English professors, as well as Language faculty). The argument is that the State of Israel has severely restricted the movement and communication abilities of a number of Palestinian academics, a violation of each organizations principles of academic freedom.

Key Bills in Annapolis

The Washington Post has an article this morning on the status of key bills introduced in the past month in Annapolis. What has passed, what has not passed, and what is still pending in the legislature.

Read more at The Washington Post.

2/14/14 Todd Reynolds, Political Action Coordinator

Delegate race for district 12 heats up.

Candidates for delegate in district 12-- a district that covers Baltimore County and Howard County-- are raising a large amount of money, showing how competitive that race may be. All 3 current delegates from district 12 are retiring, so that leaves the current race very much in the air. Michael Gisriel, a Democrat with major corporate backers, holds a lead in fundraising, but he may have double-reported some of those donations.

Brown testifies in favor of Pre-K expansion; criticizes Gansler for not going far enough.

The governor's plan to add $4.3 million to the pre-k program had a hearing in Annapolis yesterday, and Anthony Brown testified how this plan does much more than Doug Gansler's proposal to expand pre-k. Gansler's plan is more gradual, and would only offer all-day pre-k to low-income families. As I think Phil has detailed to us, O'Malley's plan would make pre-k expansion available to folks making upwards of 300% of the poverty level.

Senator Paul Pinsky introduces bill to close corporate tax loopholes through combined reporting.

In an op-ed in yesterday's Baltimore Sun state senator Paul Pinsky (D, Prince George's County), detailed the problem of multi-state and multi-national corporations paying zero state corporate taxes. They do this by reporting all their revenues in an out-of-state subsidiary. Senator Pinsky argues that a bill requiring combined reporting would force these corporations (Wal-mart, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.) would put them on equal footing with local/state businesses, as well as generate needed revenue for the State's budget.

Big clashes in Annapolis on the implementation of the Maryland School Assessment standardized test.

Marylandreporter.com details the fight brewing between the Governor's administration (and especially the Maryland State Department of Education) and other state lawmakers and state teachers over the implementation of the Maryland School Assessment standardized test. Those who want the test waived this year argue that it is out of date and is based on curriculum that is being phased out. But the Governor and the MSDE argue that the MSA gives the administration good measurable data about the status of student performance.

Healthcare exchange has persistent, serious IT problems.

The Baltimore Sun reports that technical glitches with the state's roll out of the new Health Care plan. Maryland's Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein reprted to a legislative oversight committee on Monday that "the contractors have not delivered what they said they would deliver," and that when the current contract runs out at the end of March, the state may seek a new IT contractor to perform the service. The Baltimore Sun reports that the additional costs of the sputtering roll out have inflated the overall bill for the new plan to $261 million.