State Roundup: Maryland Blasts Virginia Over Repeal Of Ban On Winter Crab Dredging; Two Education Boards Set Aggressive Goals For Success

MARYLAND OFFICIALS BLAST VIRGINIA REPEAL OF BAN ON WINTER CRAB DREDGING: Maryland officials and environmentalists are railing against a Virginia decision that could reopen a long-closed segment of that state’s blue crab fishery. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 5-4 on Tuesday to repeal a prohibition on a winter dredge fishery for blue crabs, a ban that’s been in place for about 15 years. As a result, staff members at the commission will explore reestablishing a winter fishery for the species. Christine Condon/The Baltimore Sun.

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz said in a statement the reason blue crabs have seen a rebounding population since a steep drop in the 2000s can be “directly traced” to collaborative management between Maryland and Virginia. “Today’s action by Virginia breaks with this successful approach,” Kurtz said in a statement. Cody Boteler/The Baltimore Banner.

STATE EDUCATION BOARD, BLUEPRINT BOARD SET AGGRESSIVE GOALS: Two state education boards set aggressive new goals Tuesday for student achievement, attracting and retaining a diverse teacher corps and reducing chronic absenteeism. It was the second time this year that the Maryland State Board of Education and the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board held a joint meeting, and members said their decision to set higher targets is intentional. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

  • The AIB is in the process of approving each of Maryland’s 24 school districts’ plans outlining how they will create and maintain Blueprint programs, such as expanding public prekindergarten for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds, raising teacher starting salaries, and offering relevant career and technical education for students seeking trade credentials. Lilly Price/The Baltimore Sun.
  • Maryland State Superintendent Carey Wright said the targets are ambitious, particularly in mathematics, where the proficiency rate is at 23%. “If you don’t set ambitious goals, you’re never going to reach them,” Wright said. “And I honestly believe that our districts are primed to really take on this work and do it well.” Liz Bowie/The Baltimore Banner.

REPORT BLAMES INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS FOR UTILITY PRICE HIKES: Consumers may not understand the jargon like price per therm, standard tariffs and rate that are packed into a 92-page report from the Office of People’s Counsel, but they surely understand the report’s bottom line. “Customers of most of Maryland’s largest utilities are facing staggering levels of cost increases for the delivery of their electricity and gas,” said David S. Lapp, the head of the Office of People’s Counsel, which represents the interests of Maryland utility customers in state and federal regulatory proceedings. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

THREE STATE KEY BRIDGE RELIEF PROGRAMS TO END: Three state-run temporary worker and business relief programs for those affected by the Key Bridge collapse will close Friday following the reopening of the channel and the arrival of the Dali in Norfolk. Those programs are the Maryland Department of Labor Worker Support Program, the Maryland Department of Commerce Business Assistance Program and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Business Grant Program. Kiersten Hacker/The Baltimore Sun.

MARYLAND DEMS OUST VOLUNTEER AFTER UNSEEMLY MESSAGES: The Maryland Democratic Party removed a volunteer from a leadership position after an online vigilante group published video documenting sexually explicit messages he admitted exchanging with someone posing as a minor. Michael Knaapen was listed as the chair of the state Democratic Party’s LGBTQ+ Diversity Leadership Council until the afternoon of June 22, shortly after a video was shared online by Alex Rosen, founder of Predator Poachers, proclaiming Knaapen had been “busted” for “going after a 14-year-old.” Cody Boteler/The Baltimore Banner.

NEXT PHASE OF ELLICOTT CITY FLOOD PROTECTION PLAN STARTS: Construction has begun on the next phase of Ellicott City’s Safe and Sound flood mitigation plan, an 18-foot tunnel that will divert 26,000 gallons of water per second from the West End to the Patapsco River. Sherry Greenfield/The Baltimore Sun.

EASTON COUNCIL’s ANTI-TRANS COMMENT FACE PUBLIC BACKLASH: Anti-trans comments from Easton Town Council members over the past several weeks have unified residents to combat discrimination. At a Town Council meeting in late May, Council President Frank Gunsallus said that the town shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to purchase new Pride flags, which he said are representative of a “socialist ideology.” Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.

BA CO COUNCIL EXPANSION PROPOSAL TO MAKE BALLOT: Baltimore County Council Chairman Izzy Patoka believes he has the votes to put the question of increasing the size of the council on the November ballot. Patoka said that during a Tuesday public hearing, while defending his proposal to increase the size of the council from seven to nine seats. But Towson resident Rose Kinder complained that Patoka loaded the council expansion legislation with extras, like changing the council member’s job from part to full time. John Lee/WYPR-FM.

B’MORE MAN SENTENCED IN $18M PANDEMIC RELIEF SCHEME: A Baltimore man who prepared applications for nearly $18 million in fraudulent pandemic relief loans in exchange for kickbacks received seven years in prison Tuesday at his sentencing in federal court. The scheme led by Ahmed Sary, 46, is the largest pandemic fraud seen in the District of Maryland, a prosecutor said, involving 85 fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications and 57 fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications. Madeleine O’Neill/The Baltimore Sun.