BlueCrossBlueShield CEO Brian D. Pieninck: Md. should consider insurance mandate

Too many consumers of health insurance are accustomed to an unpleasant annual ritual: When autumn rolls around, letters arrive carrying significant increases in monthly premiums, and health care coverage that was already unaffordable for many becomes even more so. For Marylanders buying their own health insurance, the news is better this year. For the first time in decades, individual insurance rates have decreased year over year. A collaboration between the governor and the General Assembly led to a new law providing premium relief to Maryland residents, and the reductions are significant. But they will be temporary unless the health care community and the state take decisive steps to ensure long-term affordability. (Balt. Sun)

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Joe Nathanson: Our region won the Amazon sweepstakes

The results are in and it’s a split decision! After a process that took 14 months, Amazon has settled on the locations of its new headquarters in Greater Washington and New York City. Baltimore was one of 238 communities that entered the competition to host the new facilities, promoted as new administrative offices for 50,000 workers averaging $150,000 in annual salary.  It came as no surprise that Baltimore’s bid failed to make the cut when the 20 finalists were announced earlier this year. The greater Baltimore region could have supplied the talent pipeline of technical and professional workers desired by Amazon. But, according to CityLab, an online site that “informs and inspires the people who are creating the cities of the future,” it was always about transportation connections. (Daily Record)

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Richard DeShay Elliott: Reforming the Maryland Democratic Party

Honest question here: Who is satisfied by the current Maryland Democratic Party’s institutional leadership and strategy? Or, one could ask, is there any leadership or strategy? Barely visible on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Focuses overly on the old guard and doesn’t highlight the wealth of new legislators who hail from impressive backgrounds. Doesn’t focus outreach to the rising elements of our party: women, people of color, and  youth. Doesn’t have an “offseason” strategy of adding to the political bench, cultivating new leadership, and building the Democratic Party of 2028. Just a few critiques that I’ve heard, but there is an outlet for this dissatisfaction. (Md. Matters)

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Bobby Moore - Message to Team 46: Stand up against ‘Democrats for Hogan’ hypocrisy

The members of Team 46, my Democratic representatives in Annapolis, have much to be proud of and many accomplishments. Sen. Bill Ferguson has worked diligently on the Kirwan Commission and Del. Robbyn Lewis is firmly committed to affordable health care and improving public transit. But after voting Team 46 this past election, I’m disappointed not to hear their voices challenging those Democrats, especially in leadership, who supported Larry Hogan for governor. Gov. Hogan has hurt and will continue to hurt Baltimore. No Maryland Democrat should have assisted him. Team 46 needs to make that clear. (Md. Matters)

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Alison Colden: Maryland's leaders have the facts to make meaningful changes to oyster fishery

Maryland's new oyster stock assessment confirms what many conservationists have long suspected — that the state's oyster population is in dire need of new management. At more than 300-pages, the report represents the most comprehensive assessment of Maryland's oyster population ever completed. Its chief finding is that the adult oyster population in the state has declined by more than half in the past two decades dropping from 600 million in 1999 to 300 million in 2018. Armed with this new science, now is the time for Maryland leaders to make meaningful changes to the oyster fishery. (Capital)

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David Flores: Storm-driven disasters shows need to reform state pollution-permitting

Recent extreme weather — Hurricanes Harvey and Florence — caused widespread toxic contamination of floodwaters after low-lying chemical plants, coal ash storage facilities and hog waste lagoons were inundated. Such storm-driven chemical disasters demonstrate that state water pollution permitting programs are overdue for reforms that account for stronger and more intense hurricanes and heavy rainfall events, sea level rise and extreme heat. (Daily Times)

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November 29 // Baltimore transit: Is local control the answer?

Earlier this week, a Washington, D.C., based organization of business leaders issued a report that was, among other things, critical of the Baltimore region’s approach to transportation. Their point was well taken — if a bit obvious to those who live in close vicinity of Charm City. By most any standard, Baltimore’s transportation infrastructure, particularly its public transit systems, are haphazard and poorly connected, a product of state ownership of transit systems, historic racial and socioeconomic segregation, and a glaring lack of regional consensus and adequate public investment. (Balt. Sun)

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Mike Tidwell: Climate Science Blockbuster: Can Maryland Pass the Big Test?

Ever had this nightmare? You’re in school when suddenly you remember you have a huge exam the next day. You haven’t been attending class, reading the books, or studying in any way. You start cramming like a fiend, begging friends for notes. You’re stunned at how cluelessly asleep you’ve been when the stakes are so huge. You feel terror. Well, have a seat. That nightmare “exam” has just become reality — thanks to global warming. In October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that there will be a massive test tomorrow for humanity. In the planetary sense, “tomorrow” is the year 2030. (Md. Matters)

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