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Governing in a Fundamentally Different Way

Earlier this month, I traveled to London to discuss the ways in which CitiStat and StateStat have transformed how we govern in Maryland.

Seven years ago when I took office, the O’Malley-Brown Administration set out to govern in a fundamentally different way – setting goals, measuring performance, hitting deadlines, and getting results. And we set out to make our progress visible and to hold ourselves accountable. As part of our commitment to performance measurement and management, we set 16 Strategic Goals to move Maryland forward.

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Whether we’re taking action to drive down violent crime or reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we’re testing our policies to see what works, and learn how we can fix problems that are important to Marylanders. From cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay to ensure the long-term health of our environment and our economy, to improving student achievement to give all our children more opportunities to succeed, we’re changing the way government works.

You can follow our progress online and learn more about what we’re doing in Maryland to make our state better by visiting goals.maryland.gov.

And to learn more about my visit to London, and to hear how we all benefit by exchanging ideas and making government more open, please visit the Institute for Government’s blog.


Exercising Civil Right Number One

Today is National Voter Registration Day, an opportunity remind every eligible Marylander across the state – Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever your affiliation – to register to vote by Tuesday, October 14, in time for the November 4 general election.

Dr. Martin Luther King called the right to vote, “civil right number one.” As he said, voting – “is more than a badge of citizenship and dignity – it is an effective tool for change… and the foundation-stone for political action.”

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We’re committed in Maryland to doing what works – and government works best when more people participate at the ballot box.

That’s why here in Maryland, in contrast to many other states, we’ve expanded access to the polls. We’ve enabled on-site early voting, expanded our online voter registration services, and allowed young Marylanders to register before their 18th birthday as long as the general election falls after it. And beginning in 2016, we’ll have same-day registration.

We’ve done more, not less to secure voting rights for the mentally disabled, and more, not less to give our military men and women every opportunity to have their vote counted, no matter where they may be stationed.

These are common sense reforms that knock down more of the obstacles that still keep people away from the polls on Election Day.

I hope more Marylanders everywhere, regardless of party affiliation, will exercise their right to vote this November 4th.

You can register online or in person at your local or State Board of Elections, as well as at public colleges and universities and Motor Vehicle Administration offices. For a complete listing of voter registration locations and information on how to register quickly and easily, visit elections.maryland.gov.


Equipping the Next Generation of Innovators

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the next generation of innovators at the Comcast Internet Essentials Back to School event in Baltimore. Students from across the city came together to demonstrate all that they had learned at the Digital Harbor Foundation’s dynamic STEM after-school program. I was blown away by our student speaker, Nicholas Cato — a senior at Digital Harbor High School who travels over an hour every day to school, and still maintains a 4.2 GPA.

I want to share his insightful remarks on what the internet means to him, and what he believes it means to hundreds of students like him across our state. Students like Nicholas are a big part of the reason why we’ve made STEM education a key component of statewide our education goal — one of our 16 strategic goals for moving Maryland forward.

Thanks to programs like Internet Essentials, more students like Nicholas can fully compete with their peers in school today, which means they’ll be poised to compete and succeed in the high-tech workforce of tomorrow.

Check his speech out after the jump.

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Comcast Internet Essentials Speech

Nicholas Cato – September 22, 2014

Thank you for this opportunity to say a few words and talk about what access to technology and to the Internet means to me. This question is both an easy and a hard question to answer. It is easy to simply say that the Internet is essential to life today. But at the same time, life existed before the Internet too. Without the Internet, my day-to-day might actually not be that different. My alarm clock would still wake me up, I would still go to school, I would still have my family. Without the Internet, however, my life over all would be very different though. Today’s workplace depends more and more on the Internet, and the career I want, wouldn’t exist without technology.

What is the Internet, really?

To me, the Internet has become a way of life that I can’t be without. It’s something that I go home to everyday and use to relax and connect with the rest of the world. One minute, I could be talking to my brother who’s in Michigan, and the next, I could be connected to a friend in Japan, playing a game — or have a mild conversation with them.

But before I talk more about all of the things the Internet allows, I want to tell you about the first time I played a multiplayer, online game. I had played games before that, but they were always games that I played alone. The fun, the excitement and the feelings that I get from playing with others is uncomparable. There is a different experience with every lobby and it feels as if I’m at a completely different place every time. I couldn’t imagine going back to just playing games the way we used to before they were connected through the Internet.

The Internet allows us to virtually travel the world in a matter of minutes and to explore a wide variety of resources with just the click of a button. We have access to Wikipedia, dictionaries, and electronic calculators that we would otherwise have to buy, if we were not connected to the broad network that is the Internet today.

  • We could watch YouTube tutorials to learn completely new things like I did this summer with the game programming engine Unity
  • We could ask questions and get answers in real-time
  • We could shop and buy both common and unique things that are then shipped directly to your house
  • We could research and learn about colleges
  • We could find and connect with people from all over the world
  • We could stay connected socially with friends even after you or they move away
  • We could get updates on the latest news from around the corner or around the world
  • We could find out the best way to get from one place to the next, know about bus schedules and road closures, traffic accidents, etc.
  • We could listen to music, view sporting events, and watch movies or television shows

But, of all of the things you can do, the thing that still amazes me the most is that I can work on a team towards a shared goal with someone I may actually never meet in person and who I wouldn’t otherwise know. I want my career to be like this — where I work towards a common vision with a variety of other people from all different backgrounds. I wish school was more like this. People could work together better, find and share interests, and solve real-world problems.

I believe that access to the Internet is something that everybody should have and should actively use in their day-to-day lives. It’s a life-saver, a game-changer and most importantly, it is us, because without you and me, where would the internet be? The internet has changed millions of lives and counting, and I look forward to where it’s going to take us in the future.

Thank you.


A Cleaner, Greener and More Prosperous Future

With over 3,000 miles of coastline, Maryland is one of the most vulnerable states in the nation to climate change, extreme weather, and sea-level rise. So combating climate change isn’t just good for the life in our ecosystems, it’s necessary for our future prosperity and livelihood.

If we’re going to carry Maryland forward, we need to be propelled by ideas, not ideology.

That’s why we set a goal to reduce both per capita peak demand and per capita electricity consumption in Maryland by 15% by 2015.

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Yesterday, I visited Baltimore to highlight the progress that we’ve made through our innovative programs like EmPOWER Maryland and strong private sector partnerships, like those with BGE and Opower. These companies looked at our policy priorities and said “yes.” They’ve built out new technologies and implemented strategies to help us meet our goals, all while giving consumers the choice and the data to control their energy usage.

Now, together with all five utilities in the State that are working towards these goals, we have driven down per capita peak electricity demand by nearly 15% since 2007, and driven down per capita electricity consumption by over 10% since 2007. To date, EmPOWER Maryland programs have saved Marylanders $3.2 billion in lifetime energy costs.

Reducing carbon emissions is a critical aspect of protecting the livelihood of our State as well as life itself. That’s why we’ve also set energy goals to increase Maryland’s in-state renewable generation to 20% by 2022, and to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.

In addition to the other progress we’ve made, we’ve also increased renewable energy generation by nearly 57% since 2007. And last year, over 8% of Maryland’s generation came from renewable sources.

We’re not only partnering with companies here in Maryland, but we have also joined with seven other states in a pledge to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. And we released our Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, which includes 150 programs and initiatives to drive down greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, and which will generate $1.6 billion in economic benefits and supporting over 37,000 jobs.

Today, thanks to these efforts, Maryland is a national leader in clean energy. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, we’ve ranked among the top 10 states for energy efficiency for 3 years in a row.

Together — with imagination, ambition, and a new way of collaborative thinking — we can continue to move our State forward and shape a future that is cleaner, greener and more prosperous.


Day to Serve: We’re All in this Together

2014 marks the third year in a row that the people of Maryland will join our neighbors in Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC for a Day to Serve.

From September 11th to the 28th, we’re urging Marylanders from across our state to come together and serve. When you choose to participate in Day to Serve you help feed the hungry, improve our neighborhoods, and clean up green spaces in and around our communities.

Governor O'Malley plants a tree during the 2012 Day to Serve.

Each year since 2012 we’ve doubled our success. With the hard work of a diverse coalition of Marylanders, from faith-based groups to social and environmental organizations, more than 20,000 Marylanders volunteered to serve in 2013 — completing 60,000 hours of service at 456 events. Just last year, we planted more than 1,500 trees and cleaned up 1,500 bags of garbage during Day to Serve.

September is also Hunger Action Month, and last year, we collected over 350,000 pounds of food donations during Day to Serve. The Maryland Food Bank has enlisted the assistance of the Maryland State Police and the Department of Transportation to open more than 100 food drive drop-off locations to make donating easy.

You can also join us for Day to Serve Night at Camden Yards on September 15 as the Baltimore Orioles take on the Toronto Blue Jays to raise money for the Parks and People Foundation.

Additionally, the Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County will join our Maryland Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Naval Academy, and a number of other local groups and organizations to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks with service. Starting at the Maryland World War II Memorial overlooking the Severn River and continuing to Jonas Green Park on September 13, volunteers will help clean up the environment and protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The Volunteer Center is one of 14 recipients of 9/11 Remembrance Mini-Grants totaling $25,000 through the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism — funds that have been matched, dollar-for-dollar, by faith-based and non-profit organizations.

So how will you serve your community this September?

Be sure to talk to family, friends, and neighbors about Day to Serve. Become a part of the conversation on social media with #DaytoServe on Twitter or at Day to Serve on Facebook!

Thank you for your commitment to giving back and recognizing that we are all in this together.

For more information on Day to Serve, and to sign up to volunteer, visit us at www.daytoserve.org.


Back to School and Winning the Future

It’s back-to-school season and here in Maryland our schools have already begun welcoming students back for the new academic year. Initial estimates show there’s a good chance we’ll reach a new record enrollment this year with more than 860,000 students filling our classrooms – and we’re ready for them.

Lunch with MOM

In Maryland, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has an eight-year track record of making smart investments in our schools and in our children. While 35 states have retreated on education funding during the Recession, we are one of only 13 states to increase funding per student, with a record $6.05 billion in FY15 funding. In fact, we’ve had the 4th highest increase in per student funding between FY08 and FY14. Working together with students, parents, teachers, legislators and school officials across our great State, we’ve built a top-ranked public school system — one that gives our children the knowledge and skills they’ll need to compete in our 21st century global economy.

From 2009 to 2013 — five years in a row — Education Week magazine ranked Maryland’s public schools #1 in the nation. In 2014, Education Week didn’t put out rankings, but Maryland retained Education Week’s #1 composite state ranking. We were one of only five states in the past decade to decrease the poverty achievement gap by more than five percentage points. And the College Board announced that Maryland students continue to be #1 in Advanced Placement (AP) success.

And we’re always innovating. This fall’s graduating seniors will be the first class to complete Maryland’s nationally recognized environmental literacy education requirement.  At the same time, many of our schools are adding new STEM-oriented programs like computer science and natural resources. We’re also making new investments in quality Pre-K programs to make sure more our youngest learners will be ready for the challenges ahead. We’ve also invested in innovative solutions in our public schools – the Digital Learning Innovation Fund, the Maryland Longitudinal Data System and the Early College Innovation Fund.

But despite our successes, there’s always more work to be done, and more ways to improve.

This school year marks the second full-year implementation of Maryland’s rigorous College and Career-Ready Standards. More than 4,000 teachers and administrators took part in professional development to work with the standards this summer, the fourth consecutive year we’ve offered it. These standards are designed to ensure that all of our students will be ready to compete when it’s time to step out of the classroom and into a career or college. This spring, students will be tested with the first administration of PARCC – an assessment test aligned to our standards.  As we transition, we will continue to support our teachers throughout this process.

But perhaps the most critical element in building and maintaining a top-tier school system is having good teachers, principals and administrators to lead the way.

This summer we held the first Governor’s Promising Principals Academy, where 48 of Maryland’s finest educators — men and women who aspire to become principals — took part in intensive professional development. Additionally, our teachers and principals are working together to strengthen educator evaluation.  All of our school systems are now using a new evaluation system, and in an unprecedented show of cooperation this summer, the State’s teachers, principals, board members, and local superintendents all joined together with the MSEA and MSDE in a pledge to further refine the system.

All of these efforts are aimed at a single target: improving student success from day one, through graduation and beyond.

Maryland schools succeed because we have never stopped investing in our students and doing the things that work.

Note: this blog originally appeared on The Huffington Post, click here to view the original post.


Reducing Preventable Hospitalizations

Yesterday, as part of our ongoing ‘Governing for Results’ series, I had the privilege of touring the Center for Clinical Resources, part of the Western Maryland Health System. I met dedicated health care providers on the tour and we talked about the steps we’re taking to reduce preventable hospitalizations and create a stronger, healthier Maryland.

Hospital visits represent one of the most preventable public health challenges facing our State and the nation. While every person should have access to critical care at hospitals, we’re working to keep more people healthy and reduce the number and length of hospital stays, which in turn reduces costs for families and our health care system.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration set a goal to reduce the rate of preventable hospitalizations by 10 percent by 2015. In 2012, we exceeded that goal, driving down preventable hospitalizations in Maryland by 11.9 percent.

We’ve driven down preventable hospitalizations by investing in innovative ways to reduce costs, improve care, and cover all Marylanders.

Governor and CRC Staff

In 2009, we took one of many key steps to address this issue with the development of Maryland’s Health Information Exchange. The Chesapeake Regional Information System (CRISP) connects Maryland’s physicians, hospitals, and labs with real-time information ensuring continuity of care for all patients. CRISP sends roughly 10,000 notifications a month to physicians when their patients are admitted, discharged, or transferred to any hospital in Maryland.

The Western Maryland Health System is just one example of the way in which health care providers are working to keep more Marylanders healthy.  In July 2010, WMHS became one of 10 hospitals to participate in a demonstration project for the Total Patient Revenue model offered by the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission. In the four years since starting Total Patient Review, inpatient admissions have been driven down 32 percent, while readmissions within 30 days have been driven down 46 percent over the last two years.

Additionally, the Center for Clinical Resources at WMHS now centralizes services to support patients with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, and COPD. With the support of the Allegany County Health Department and the Maryland Health Care Commission, the Center’s efforts have produced approximately $1.4 million in savings for chronic heart failure and diabetic patients. And in 2014, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Maryland’s all-payer rate-setting system which will improve patient care and reduce health care costs. Uwe Reinhardt, a health care economist at Princeton University, said,This is without any question the boldest proposal in the United States in the last half century to grab the problem of cost growth by the horns.

We believe that there is no such thing as a spare Marylander, and improving health care in Maryland means recognizing the promise, value, and potential of every human life. Together, we can ensure that every Marylander can improve their health and spend fewer days in hospitals.

To learn more about the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s innovative policy efforts and investments in new data platforms that have led to lower costs, better health outcomes, and improved patient care, please read the Governor’s recently released white paper: A Prescription for Innovation: Maryland’s Data-Driven Approach to Containing Costs and Advancing Health.


Protecting Maryland’s Blue Crabs

I say, “Maryland.”

You say, “Crabs.”

Few things dial up an instant connection to our home state like a pile of steamed crabs, hot to the touch and dusted with Old Bay, spread across a table covered with brown paper. Surrounded by friends and family with the Orioles game providing the soundtrack—you could be somewhere else, but why would you want to be?

steamed blue crabsWe often take for granted our next bushel of crabs and the one after that, just as our parents and grandparents did.

We shouldn’t. Harsh winter weather, coastal currents and natural predators can threaten the health of the blue crab population. To be sure, conditions can change as quickly as the striped bass bite in early fall. Good crab harvest years, such as 2012, are sometimes followed by poor seasons marked by scarcity and high prices.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police have launched a campaign – Don’t Get Pinched – to target crabbers who don’t play by the rules. The enforcement effort is being embraced by our partners at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, as we stand together to protect and manage these resources using the best available science.

NRP’s game plan follows the one established last year to protect another Bay keystone species – oysters. Surveillance, undercover operations, night vision equipment, saturation patrols and the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network (MLEIN) are all being employed. Officers will be on the lookout for undersized crabs, overharvesting, recreational crabbers keeping female crabs, and crab pots that are not registered.

Rest assured we are not looking to ruin anyone’s outing or dinner plans. We are working to ensure the health of our fishery, the livelihoods of honest, law-abiding watermen and the enjoyment of our citizens.

Despite harvest being within the safe range for the last six years, the 2014 spawning age female crab abundance was just below the minimum safe level and the last two juvenile population surveys were not as robust as we would have liked. With this, awareness and enforcement efforts such as Don’t Get Pinched are necessary now more than ever.

The signature species of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries will keep its treasured place in our heritage only if we protect it. So, enjoy Maryland’s delicious blue crab and the rest of your summer… but don’t get pinched.

Joe Gill, Secretary
Maryland Department of Natural Resources


A Healthier, Safer Maryland

Yesterday, I visited the Annapolis Police Department as part of our ‘Governing for Results’ tour to highlight the formation of the Overdose Prevention Council and the steps we’re taking to reduce substance use disorder in our communities.

In Maryland, we value the wellness of our citizens and the safety of our communities above all else, which is why we’re working together to reduce drug-related deaths.

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In June, I signed an executive order establishing the Overdose Prevention Council to advise and assist State agencies in this effort. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland State Police have launched a new initiative to equip Maryland State Troopers with naloxone, a life-saving medication that can safely and effectively reverse opioid overdoses. And earlier this year, I signed the Good Samaritan Law, which provides immunity for a person who assists someone experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose from criminal prosecution.

We’re also working on several data initiatives to better understand this epidemic, and all Maryland counties and Baltimore City have submitted local overdose prevention plans to DHMH.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration set a goal to expand services for substance use disorder by 25 percent from FY2008 to the end of FY2012, and in 2012, we met our goal, having increased the number of patients in State-funded substance use treatment programs by 26 percent. We followed that success by setting a new goal to reduce overdose deaths by 20 percent by 2015 – one of my Administration’s 16 strategic goals. But our work isn’t finished until we drive the number of overdose deaths down to zero.

In Maryland, we believe in moving forward and working together. Learn how you can help save lives in your community by visiting Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website.

Together, we can move forward and build a healthier, safer One Maryland.


A Better Prepared Maryland

Last week, I made a second call on our Maryland FiRST statewide radio communications system to mark the successful implementation of the system’s expansion to the Eastern Shore. The State’s first-ever statewide radio communications system puts first responders on the entire Eastern Shore and parts of Central Maryland on the same radio channel so they can communicate more effectively and better coordinate resources in the event of an emergency. These emergency personnel are responsible for 55 percent of our population and key critical infrastructure sites, including the northern I-95 corridor, Port of Baltimore, and BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport. By 2017, the Maryland FiRST system will serve all of our state’s citizens, from Ocean City to Oakland.

Keeping Marylanders safe and secure is the most sacred responsibility of our government, and the Maryland FiRST system is helping to ensure that we carry out that responsibility efficiently and effectively.

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We’ve also invested in ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics), a web-based system designed for early detection of disease outbreaks. Every hospital in the state uses this system to protect Marylanders from infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.

And we’ve increased traffic management video feeds available to our first responders from 266 feeds in 2009 to 1,657 video feeds now available, an expansion of over 520 percent.

These innovative investments are essential in helping us meet Maryland’s homeland security goals as part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s 16 strategic goals.

When Marylanders unite to achieve our goals, we are unstoppable. Together, we can continue to build on our homeland security successes as we work to create a more secure One Maryland.

Click here to view a video of Governor O’Malley’s second call on the Maryland FiRST system.