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Afternoon Read: Maryland Passes Health Exchange Bill

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The fate of Obamacare may still be in the air, but Marlyand passed legislation Thursday that would implement the health reform in the state by creating open markets where people would buy insurance.

The legislation, according to The Baltimore Sun,  would guide how the exchanges are operated and outline the types of health and dental plans that will be offered.

The law must now me signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley—an outspoken proponent of Obamacare.

The Maryland House of Delegates also passed a bill Thursday that would raise the age that children would be required to stay in school from 15 to 17. This means that students would not be able to drop out until they are 18 years of age.

The bill passed through the House with an 88 to 49 vote.

According to The Post, debates on the floor were heated as proponents argued that the state should do whatever it takes to help students graduate while opponents said that parents are ultimately the ones responsible for their children’s schooling.

* Despite the backlash D.C. Councilman Marion Barry is receiving from his comments critical of local Asian businesses, the longtime D.C. politician is sticking by his remarks.

While speaking about the economic development in the city's poorest ward during a celebtration Tuesday night for his primary win, Barry criticized Asian store owners in the area.

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said. “They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

Two days later, discussion surrounding this controversial remark hasn’t subsided, and local leaders have joined the conversation via Twitter.

Mayor Vincent Gray tweeted today:

I'm deeply disappointed in CM Barry's comment; no room in our wonderfully diverse city 4 comments disparaging any group.

DC councilman Tommy Wells tweeted:

My colleague's remarks about Asian businesses last night were deplorable. We are a great city and we are a diverse city.

Barry tweeted that his comment was not meant to be disparaging, but said that stores in Ward 8 could do a better job of being healthier and involving themselves in the community.

He accompanied these tweets with pictures of a Chinese restaurant that had a plexiglass separating the cashier’s counter from the rest of the store.

Some of his tweets:

But the plexiglass barrier is both literal & figurative. Keep bizs clean, carry healthy products, hire from community http://pic.twitter.com/j77Sqqk0

WE can do a better job. I do NOT disparage the Asian community, but the fact is there r some bizs that can do better! http://pic.twitter.com/vjM9tITw

My comments were taken out of context & construed as disparaging 2 entire Asian biz community. We DO deserve our bizs t/b nice places in W8!

Barry defended his statements to Mike Debonis at The Washington Post.

Let me make it clear, I’m not castigating any group of people. I’m not doing anything except trying to have a renaissance of our community and get some respect. A number of these restaurants serve high caloric food, bad food, et cetera, but the more important thing, they don’t participate in the community. . . . That’s what I object to, I don’t care who it is. “

Asked why he singled out Asians in his remarks, Barry said, “Because that’s reality. Who owns these little restaurants? Who owns them? You know, Asians. . .Ninety percent of all the small restaurants in Ward 8, at least.” It is difficult to verify that claim.

He added, “We’re spending our money there, and we demand respect. We demand they participate in community affairs. We demand they give jobs to Ward 8 people regardless of their cultural situation. That’s as American as apple pie.”

* Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity, 52, is currently recovering from open heart surgery this morning at Fairfax Inova Heart and Vascular Institute.

Herrity has abnormal heart rhythms and an aortic aneurism.

Prior to the surgery, Herrity said he was optimistic and looking forward to making a full recovery.

"I am fortunate to be young for a heart surgery patient, I am active, regularly swimming and playing ice hockey, I have two world class surgeons performing the procedure, and I have the love and support of my wonderful family and many friends and supporters – it is truly amazing how many people have come up to me to wish me their best and tell me that they too have had heart surgery – it is very encouraging.”

* Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will not make a recommendation on whether the General Assembly should end the state’s 30-year ban on uranium, a spokesman told the RTD today.

Instead, McDonnell will pass along the findings of an administration study group that is investigating the safety of uranium mining.

Read more here…

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