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Governor’s Race Poll, Health Insurance Rates, Baltimore Teachers File Grievance, & MD Tourism

Courtesy of MPT

With just over two weeks until Maryland’s primary election, a new poll of the governor’s race indicates that the frontrunners in both parties are maintaining sizable leads. A closer look at the poll, plus: requests to change health insurance rates, a class action grievance filed by Baltimore teachers, tourism figures, new statues for the Great Blacks in Wax museum, the Cozy closes, and more.

Opinion Poll Results: A new poll on the governor’s race was released over the weekend. The Opinionworks poll surveyed likely voters for the Baltimore Sun. It puts Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown in the lead for the Democratic nomination, with 41 percent of the likely vote. State Attorney General Doug Gansler has about half that – with 20 percent of likely voters saying they’ll vote for him. The distance between the two is about the same as it’s been in previous polls. Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur’s support has increased from previous polls, but she remains in third place, with 15 percent of those surveyed in the latest poll saying they’ll vote for here. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler analyze the state of the Democratic gubernatorial race, on this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics. On the Republican side, the poll found that founder of “Change Maryland” Larry Hogan’s lead appears to be growing. Hogan had the support of 27 percent of the likely GOP voters polled – up from 13 percent in the last Sun poll, in February. His closest competitors – Harford County Executive David Craig and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar – were tied with 12 percent apiece (close to where they were the last time). Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George’s bid for the Republican nomination is in fourth place, garnering the support of 6% of those surveyed. The poll also took a look at the Democratic primary in the Attorney General’s race. It shows Delegate Jon Cardin in the lead, with the support of 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, followed by State Senator Brian Frosh with 16 percent and Delegate Aisha Braveboy with 7 percent. 42 percent of the likely Democratic voters polled were undecided on who they’ll vote for to be the state’s next Attorney General. The poll’s margin of error is 4.4 percentage points. Maryland’s primary election takes place two weeks from tomorrow, on Tuesday, June 24th. Early voting begins on Thursday of this week; there will be at least one early voting center in each county in Maryland; the State Board of Elections says that Baltimore City will have 5 early voting centers; Baltimore County will have 8 of them.

Health Insurance Rates: The Maryland Insurance Administration is fielding requests from insurers who want to change their rates. The Washington Post reports that the region’s largest insurer, CareFirst Blue Cross BlueShield, is looking to increase premiums on individual plans between 23 and 30 percent. But two other insurers are looking to reduce their rates; the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan wants to reduce them by 12 percent, and the Evergreen Health Cooperative wants to cut them by about 10 percent. And two new carriers are looking to enter the state’s individual market for the first time; those are Cigna and United Healthcare. The individual market serves about 200-thousand of Maryland’s nearly 6-million residents. The proposals do not affect health plans that are offered by large employers or employers who self insure –a significant percentage of Marylanders get their coverage through those sources.

Baltimore Teachers File Grievance: The Baltimore Teachers Union has filed a class action grievance against the city school system over the changes it’s made to its evaluation system. The changes make it harder for teachers to get high marks in their evaluations. Under the old system, a teacher who scored an 80 or better out of 100 was classified as “highly effective.” Under the new system, a teacher has to get 86 or better out of 100 to be in the same top tier. The Baltimore Sun reportsthat the difference means that some teachers who qualified for an automatic pay raise under the old system would not under the new system. City school officials tell the Sun that they’re willing to renegotiate the changes that have been made.

Maryland Tourism: More people are visiting Maryland. Executive Director Margot Amelia with the Maryland Office of Tourism says tourism is bringing in a lot of money for the state – dropping some $15-billion in revenue here, and generating over $2-billion in state and local revenues. The recent tourism numbers show Maryland is getting twice the national average for new tourists. Officials credit the boost to focusing on key markets like D-C, Baltimore and Philadelphia. WJZ has more.

I-70 Bridge Reopens: The westbound I-70 bridge over Patapsco River is back open after crews repaired a crack found late last week. The crack was in one of the bridge’s main beams; it was spotted by paint crews on Friday. And, it’s now been fixed. The State Highway Administration says it inspects every bridge in Maryland at least every two years. Highway officials say about 100-thousand vehicles cross the I-70 bridge every day. State officials credit the light weekend traffic for the timely repair. The Baltimore Sun has more.

New Statues Coming To Great Blacks In Wax Museum: Four new statues will soon be coming to the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in East Baltimore. Congressman Elijah Cummings spoke at a weekend ceremony at Morgan State where the likenesses were unveiled. Three highly respected pastors and the late gospel singer Mahalia Jackson will join more than 100 other life-size wax figures at the museum in the coming weeks. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Cozy Closes: Thurmont’s historic Cozy Restaurant has been in operation since 1929, but closed its doors for good yesterday. Located nearby the presidential retreat of Camp David, the Cozy has served meals to many US Presidents over the years; it’s also home to what’s billed as the only museum of Camp David history in the nation. The Frederick News Post notes that the fate of that museum is uncertain.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles lost yesterday’s game against the Oakland A’s; the score was 11 to 1. The O’s host the Boston Red Sox tonight; first pitch at Camden Yards set for 7:05pm.

Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals shut out the San Diego Padres yesterday, beating them 6 to 0.

WYPR's Morning Edition news anchor Ashley Sterner serves up the latest Maryland news and weather every weekday morning, delightfully interspersed with the occasional snarky comment.