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Maryland

Headlines: A Prison Corruption Inquiry, MD Hospital Rates, and Rob Garagiola To Resign

The corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center will be front and center in Annapolis today, at a joint legislative hearing. State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola is stepping down in September. Hospitals in Maryland will be allowed to charge patients higher rates, effective July 1st. The National Transportation Safety Board says that by tomorrow, it’ll be done with the on-scene investigation of last week's train derailment in Rosedale – but the overall investigation will likely take a year or more. Plus: Baltimore’s population, Baltimore County’s high school graduation rate, more firefighters for Anne Arundel, casino revenue, and more.

Prison Corruption Inquiry: A legislative hearing is being held today in Annapolis to look into corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center. The hearing was called after 13 corrections officers at the jail were indicted on charges that they smuggled drugs and cell phones to gang members. The Baltimore Sun reportsthat Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration will use the hearing to call for a series of reforms, including a requirement that all prospective guards undergo polygraph tests. The Washington Post reports that O’Malley’s office is also considering having corrections officers pass through full body scan machines before entering state prisons, to ensure that they’re not carrying any contraband.

Garagiola To Step Down: State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola is resigning in September. The Washington Post reports that the Montgomery County Democrat tells is stepping down in order to spend more time with his family – and while he’s not ruling out a future run for elected office, he doesn’t foresee one in the near future. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will pick a replacement for him, and make its recommendation to Governor O’Malley. 

Higher Hospital Rates: Effective July 1st, hospitals in Maryland will be allowed to charge patients higher rates, following yesterday’s unanimous vote by the state’s Health Services Cost Review Commission. The Baltimore Sun reports that hospitals will be able to increase their rates by 1.65 percent; that’s less than the 2.43 percent rate hike that the Maryland Hospital Association had been asking for. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the Commission usually sets rates for a year at a time, but plan to re-evaluate rates after only six months this time around, as it anticipates a new Medicare waiver plan that would change how hospitals get paid.

Baltimore County’s High School Graduation Rate: The graduation rate in the Baltimore County School System is one of the highest in the country. As the Baltimore Sun reports, a new Education Week Analysis finds that among our nation’s large school districts, the County’s graduation rate was second best – at 84 percent.

Train Derailment Investigation: The National Transportation Safety Board says that by tomorrow, it’ll be done with its on-scene investigation of last week's train derailment in Rosedale. But the trackside work is just the beginning; officials tell the Baltimore Sun that it’ll likely take a year or more to complete their inquiry.

Baltimore’s Population: Revised figures from the US Census Bureau say that Baltimore had more residents in 2010 than the Bureau had originally reported. But not many more; the Baltimore Sun reports that the upward revision saw the population rise by just 113 people. 

100 More Firefighters For Anne Arundel: Anne Arundel County is hiring 100 more firefighters, marking the largest increase in the department in at least four years. County Executive Laura Neuman announced the hiring yesterday; the Capital Gazette reports that the move comes in response to a recent arbitrator’s decision that allows county firefighters to keep their one-day-on, three-day-off schedule. 

Casino Revenue: Maryland's four casinos generated just over 69-million dollars in the month of May – that’s a new monthly record, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. The Maryland Live! Casino in Anne Arundel County accounted for the most money, bringing in more than 55-million dollars from its slot machines and the table games which were added in April. And the Baltimore Sun reports that the new Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Western Maryland generated nearly 800-thousand dollars in its first ten-days of operation.

A Push To Ban Device Purchasing Kiosks: Some local lawmakers are calling for a ban of “automated purchasing kiosks” where people can instantly re-sell their smartphones, tablet computers, and music players. Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry says the kiosks are driving a recent rash of mobile device thefts. The Director of Marketing for a company that provides the kiosks tells the Baltimore Sun that less than 1 tenth of 1 percent of the devices it processes are stolen; and that the company monitors its kiosks and returns all stolen phones to police.

Gun Laws: Maryland's new gun law raises interesting questions about gun control efforts in other states. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles lost to the Houston Astros last night; the score was 11 to 7. The teams conclude their series this afternoon.

Ravens Go To Washington: The Baltimore Ravens are receiving their Super Bowl rings tomorrow. But first was a visit yesterday to the White House and congratulations from President Obama, detailed here by the Baltimore Sun