A bad start

Unless Gov. Martin O’Malley can get the Maryland General Assembly to give him a quick fix for the state’s shaky health exchange signup system the whole process should be handed over to the federal exchange. Maryland’s signup rate is lagging other states so far. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md. Sixth) — who favors using the federal exchange — said of the 2.1 million people signed up nationwide, only 18,257 are Maryland residents. (Times-News)

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Maryland's Obamacare Band-Aid

The General Assembly should approve Gov. Martin O'Malley's emergency proposal to allow temporary and retroactive enrollment in the state's existing high risk health insurance pool for those whose efforts to enroll in new plans were stymied by the technical disaster of Maryland's Obamacare exchange. The governor's proposal doesn't begin to make up for the damage done by the state's failure to deliver a workable exchange and may in fact provide a viable option for few of those who have suffered as a result. But it may be the only option available for helping Marylanders who tried to do the right thing and who would otherwise face ruinous bills until they can get private coverage. (Balt. Sun)

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Dan Rodricks: 'Honesty in hiring' beats 'ban the box'

Of all the frustrations I've heard ex-offenders describe — and they have plenty — this one might be the worst: A guy gets out of prison after serving his sentence, looks for a job and finds one, but a while later his new boss tells him to leave because a background check revealed a criminal record. Over eight years of fielding phone calls from people in this situation, mostly men from Baltimore with felony convictions, I've heard this story countless times. (Balt. Sun)

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John B. Gaddis: Change is the one constant in today's schools

Change has been a constant in education every year of my 24-year career; 2013 was no exception. As I reflect on 2013, educators nationally, statewide and locally have experienced change that is brand-new, change that is recycled and change that is being created daily. Nationally and statewide, we are facing change in many aspects of the schoolhouse. (Daily Times)

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The teenage terrorist

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Mohammad Hassan Khalid — who pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid terrorists while he attended a Howard county high school — be granted leniency at his sentencing, scheduled for Tuesday in Philadelphia, because of his considerable cooperation with authorities. The government suggests a term of "less than 10 years" in a court document filed last week. We think they can do better. In fact, time served may be appropriate. (Balt. Sun)

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Tami Santelli: Singling out pit bulls is unfair

Lawmakers arrive back in Annapolis this week to a major piece of unfinished business: passing a dog bite liability bill to address the unintended consequences of the Maryland Court of Appeals' ruling in which pit bull-type dogs were deemed inherently dangerous. The Maryland General Assembly, which last year failed to pass compromise legislation to address the issue, will have another chance to bring certainty and protection to dog bite victims and dog owners. The court's unprecedented decision holds owners of pit bull type dogs, landlords and anyone else with the right to control thedog's presence on their property strictly liable for incidents involving the dog. Victims of dog bites also face a strange paradigm in which the treatment they receive from the courts depends on the type of dog that inflicted their injury. Strict liability based on a dog's appearance is an untenable, unfair and ineffective way to create safe communities and compensate people who are injured by dogs. (Balt. Sun)

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Susan Reimer: Kids left in cars at casinos

For some of those addicted to gambling, it can have such a strong pull, that they're willing to put their kids at risk to do it. Experts explain that out-of-control gamblers then literally lose track of time. They slip into a trance-like state, and there is no clock there. How else to explain why anyone would think it was OK to leave a toddler in a car for 15 minutes, much less hours? (Balt. Sun)

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Jan. 6 // Legislators get ready to walk political tightrope

How do you identify Marylanders who realize the General Assembly is convening its 2014 session on Wednesday in Annapolis? Given the events of recent years, you might look for people putting a protective hand on their wallets. But we don’t think major new burdens on taxpayers are in the works this time. That’s not because legislators have had second thoughts about the gas tax increase, the sales tax increase, the income tax increase and so on, but because we’re in an election year. The primary is on June 24, perilously close to the end of the session. Many legislators are worried about the chronic structural deficit, which in spite of all the revenue-boosting has manifested itself as a budget shortfall exceeding $400 million. But they are also worried about not imperiling their re-election (or, in the case of a few legislators, like this county’s Dels. Ron George and Steve Schuh, their attempts to gain other offices). (Capital)

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