News Wrap: Transportation Sec. Hearings Delayed; Baltimore Teen Pregnancy Down
Confirmation Hearings for Transportation Secretary Delayed
The confirmation hearing for Maryland’s acting transportation secretary has been delayed for a week. According to reports, state senators had so many questions for nominee Pete Rahn that a panel voted to hold another round next Monday. Senators have been asking Rahn about his plans for the agency, and they want to know where he stands on major projects like the Red and Purple Light Rail lines, which are now under increased scrutiny.
A new state audit indicates that the Maryland Transit Administration failed to verify the accuracy of contractor costs for the Red and Purple lines. According to The Sun, the unverified labor bills from groups hired to work on the transit lines account for more than $230 million dollars in project costs. The audit does not allege that the contractors filed misleading or inaccurate costs.
Baltimore Health Officials Report Reduction in Teen Pregnancies
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Leana Wen, M.D. joined with youth advocates today at the city’s Healthy Teen And Young Adults Clinic to announce a significant reduction in Baltimore’s teen birth rate. The achievement is linked to the implementation of a citywide strategy for reducing teenage pregnancy. According to the city health department, the birth rate for teenagers between age 15 and 19 dropped by 32 percent between 2009 and 2013, surpassing the city’s goal of 20 percent.
“Reducing the teen birth rate has significant implications for our local economy and the education level of our workforce,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “We know that children of teen mothers have more health problems, are more likely to be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, to give birth as a teenager themselves, and face unemployment as a young adult. This accomplishment is great news as we strive to ensure our youth are healthy and well.”
City Health Commissioner To Testify For Raising Cigarette Tax
Baltimore City's health commissioner is expected to be in Annapolis today to testify in favor of raising the cigarette tax. Dr. Leana Wen told WMAR-TV that most smokers start as teens, and studies show that one of the most effective ways to stop young people from smoking is to increase cigarette prices. The measure being considered would increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
Cold Weather Clean-Up
Baltimore Public Works crews are trying to keep up with the flood of calls for help brought on by this cold snap in the past week almost 5,000 calls have come in mostly for no water, outside water leaks, and water in the basement. Temperatures overnight in the single digits brought on a new deluge of requests.
Move to Big 10 Pays Off Big for Maryland
Things are going pretty well for University of Maryland Basketball in the school’s first season in the Big 10. The Maryland women clinched the regular season title and were presented the Big 10 trophy last night in College Park. The Maryland men are tied for second in the conference with a 10-4 record, and will face Wisconsin at Xfinity Center Tuesday night.