University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Department of Public Policy e-News

No. 16 – June 2011

In this issue:

Public Policy Building

Program Highlight: Urban Policy
Many of the nation’s most serious problems, such as poverty, unemployment, crime, and inadequate education, are centered in our urban areas. Concerns about these problems have made urban issues the focus of public policy discussions in the U.S. and the world.

The urban policy concentration in the public policy program at UMBC combines analytic training with opportunities for applied research and real world experience. Operating in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area, one of the nation’s most strategic urban corridors, the program exposes students to urban issues in neighborhoods, cities, suburbs, and metropolitan areas. This concentration provides students with an understanding of the nature and causes of urban problems and the policy options for addressing them. Students take courses in public policy, economics, environment and history, learning to not only to formulate questions about pressing urban issues, but also contribute to the solutions. Dr. John Rennie Short is the track advisor.

New Research on Gambling in Maryland
Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has released Gambling Prevalence in Maryland: A Baseline Analysis, prepared by a team from the UMBC Maryland Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR). The team was led by Dr. Judith Shinogle, along with Dr. Donald F. Norris (Public Policy) and Dr. DoHwan Park (Mathematics and Statistics).

The survey of gambling habits and pathological gambling behaviors found that although gambling is largely a positive activity for Marylanders, 3.4% of Maryland adults experience problem or pathological gambling. The baseline study, mandated by a 2007 law that authorized video lottery terminals, provides a snapshot of the State’s gambling behaviors prior to the implementation of slot machine gambling.

The data will be used to determine whether the expansion of gambling in Maryland with slot machines can be associated with an increase in problem gambling behaviors and negative social impacts. Dr. Rachel Volberg of Gemini Research, Inc., and Donald Haynes and Eric Stokan of the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy, collaborated with MIPAR on the study.

In “Who Pays for the Maryland Lottery? Evidence From Point of Sale Data” Dr. Robert Carpenter (Economics), Dr. Donald F. Norris (Public Policy) and Ph.D student Evan Perlman used innovative GIS mapping of lottery terminal and census track data to explore the relationship between race, income, and lottery sales. Their findings show “the voluntary tax collected by the Maryland lottery comes disproportionately from census tracts populated by African Americans and low-income residents,” specifically those “with less than a high-school education, and people age 65 and older.” The article appears in The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, Vol. 4, No. 1 (31-52).

Dr. Eric Zeemering has joined the Department of Public Policy as an assistant professor. He previously taught at San Francisco State University, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration. His research investigates the development of voluntary collaboration among units of local government, and how administrative and elected officials negotiate, implement and evaluate interlocal agreements. He has also been studying the implementation of sustainability initiatives in local government. Dr. Zeemering will teach courses in the public management concentration.

In a February 2, 2011 opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Tim Brennan (Public Policy) suggested that Maryland should provide utilities with an incentive to make storm-related repairs a priority. Read Dr. Brennan's op ed "The connection between blackouts and electricity decoupling."

Dr. Dennis Coates (Economic)s participated in an online discussion on Minnesota Public Radio about using public financing to build a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. He argued that “it is hard to imagine that the very best use of public funds is in subsidizing stadiums for professional sports franchises.”

Public Policy Represented in Top 100 Maryland Influencers
The May 2011 issue of Campaigns and Elections Magazine’s named one current public policy student and one alumni to its list of top political influencers in Maryland. The publication called Ph.D student Neil Bergsman “an important spokesman for progressive causes.” Mr. Bergsman is the director of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute. Dr. Todd Eberly (Ph.D., 2006), an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College, was noted for his comments “about the challenges faced by Republicans in a state dominated by Democrats.” He is author of The Freestater Blog.

In their article, “Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors,” Dr. Judith Shinogle (MIPAR) and Dr. Melayne McInnes (University of South Carolina) found that income and education have positive associations with exercise. The authors suggest that policies to increase educational attainment could help reduce obesity. The article appears in the book Economic Aspects of Obesity, edited by Michael Grossman, Naci Mocan and H. Naci Mocan. 2011. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press (249-282).

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