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Maryland

Headlines: A Call To Cap Health Insurance Rate Hikes, A Prison Probe, and The 2014 Governor's Race

MD Attorney General Doug Gansler wants state regulators to put a temporary cap on health insurance rate hikes that would limit them to 5%. GOP Delegate Ron George plans to formally enter the Governor’s race today. Legislative leaders are planning to appoint a special committee to investigate possible prison reforms. A new report shows that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of arrests in the country for marijuana possession. Plus: Baltimore’s stormwater fees, budgets in Anne Arundel County and Ocean City, and a report on the generosity of Marylanders. And more…

Health Insurance Rates: State Attorney General Doug Gansler is calling on state regulators not to allow health insurers to raise their rates any more than 5 percent, until more is known about the impact of the new federal health care law. Gansler tells the Baltimore Sun that his proposed 5 percent rate increase cap would be re-examined six month after the Affordable Care Act fully goes into effect.

2014 Governor’s Race: Two-term Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George is kicking off his gubernatorial campaign at an event in Annapolis tonight. The Baltimore Sun notes that the Republican’s announcement follows Monday’s announcement by Harford County Executive David Craig that he’s running for governor next year.Two lesser known candidates – Brian Vaeth and Duane Davis – have already filed their paperwork with the State Board of Elections to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination

Prison Corruption Probe: Six weeks after federal indictments of 13 corrections officers exposed a widespread web of corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center, legislative leaders are expected to appoint a special committee to investigate possible prison reforms. WYPR's Mary Rose Madden and Karen Hosler filed this report

Assaults At Frederick County’s Juvenile Justice Center: A new report on Maryland’s juvenile justice centers shows that assaults at Frederick County’s Victor Cullen Center have more than doubled this year. At this time in 2012, the center had seen a total of 20 assaults; the Frederick News Post says that 43 assaults have been reported so far this year

Marijuana Possession Arrests: A new study by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of arrests in the country for marijuana possession. The Baltimore Sun reports that the study also found that African-Americans were almost three times as likely to be arrested for possession as white people in the state.

Baltimore Stormwater Fees: Baltimore Officials are still working out how large the city’s new stormwater fee should be; but they’ve endorsed a plan that would lower it – by as much as 85% - for certain companies that do business at the Port of Baltimore. Baltimore is one of ten jurisdictions required to impose a stormwater fee on property owners by the General Assembly; its proceeds would be used on programs to protect the Chesapeake Bay.The Baltimore Sun reports that the current plan would have single-family homes charged as much as $144 dollars a year; the fee structure is required to be in place by July 1st, and the City Council could cast a final vote on the plan on June 24th.

Anne Arundel County’s Budget: The Anne Arundel County Council has approved a 1.3 billion dollar budget for the coming fiscal year. The spending plan includes a slight increase in property taxes; the average homeowner would pay about 26 dollars more a year. The Capital Gazette reports that the plan also includes an increase in water and sewer rates… but that hike is just 3 percent, smaller than the 5 percent that had originally been proposed.

Ocean City’s Budget: A new spending plan has also been approved for Ocean City; the town’s council yesterday signed off on a 77-million dollar budget for FY-2014. The budget will see new revenues from a controversial source – parking meters; the Daily Times reports that some streets where parking had been free will now be dotted with parking meters, which are expected to bring in some 152-thousand dollars a year.

State Agency Moves To PG County: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Joel McCord talk about Governor O'Malley's move of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to Prince George's County and what that says about the shift in political power in the state. It’s today’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Construction Worker Injured On The Bay Bridge: A construction worker is expected to survive after an accident yesterday on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Capital Gazette reports that the worker was struck in the head by a paint can and EMS crews had to rescue him from a catwalk below the bridge. The worker was flown to Shock Trauma with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.

Free State Generosity: A new study says that Maryland is the most generous state in the nation. The analysis, conducted by the Motley Fool LLC, looks at the percentage of 2011 tax returns that claimed deductions for charitable giving… and at the amounts of charitable contributions made in 2008. The Baltimore Business Journal tells us that about 40 percent of tax returns included a charitable deduction, and the median deduction nearly 3-thousand dollars. New Jersey was the second-most generous state.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles took down the Houston Astros last night 4 to 1 – breaking the Astros' six-game winning streak. The O’s look to win another tonight, when they play the Astros again.