Leanna Wetmore - Beautify Baltimore: ban polystyrene foam

Baltimore is approaching a disgusting milestone: By early next year, Waterfront Partnership will pull its one millionth expanded polystyrene foam food container from the harbor. At nearly 22,000 containers per month, more than 700,000 of these containers have already been collected from the harbor since May of 2014 — more than enough for every resident of Baltimore to use one for lunch tomorrow. And by the end of the decade there will be enough for lunch and dinner. For every container pulled out of the harbor, there are countless more that line our streets, poison our waterways and fill our incinerators, unleashing known cancer-causing chemicals into the air. But despite our current trajectory, this future is not inevitable. (Balt. Sun)

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George Arlotto: Safety and security of our county's school system is our No. 1 concern

Since the horrific act that took 17 precious lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, many parents and other community members have reached out to ask what we are doing in Anne Arundel County Public Schools to help ensure the safety of our more than 82,000 students and more than 10,000 employees. No school or school system can guarantee 100 percent safety of students and staff 100 percent of the time. That said, I am proud of the lengths to which our school system goes to take precautions and increase awareness of surroundings in our schools system’s more than 13 million square feet of real estate. Safety and security is our No. 1 concern. (Capital)

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Kevin Rector: For Florida schoolchildren, a day of violence and fear; for Baltimore schoolchildren, a way of life

Listen to the kids from Parkland about gun violence, but listen to the kids in Baltimore, too. Since the killing of 17 students, teachers and coaches at a Florida high school on Wednesday, many brave students who survived have spoken out about the need for change. As victims of the psychological and emotional damage that always spreads like shrapnel from incidents of gun violence, they should be heard. I just hope people know kids in Baltimore want change, too. They’ve been calling for it for years. (Balt. Sun)

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Mary Ann Scully - Howard County: best in many ways, but biking

Howard County has long been recognized as among the “best”: best places to live, best schools, highest median family income and high job growth. Its guiding principles have always been to provide an environment of optimal health — physically, mentally, socially and environmentally. Yet many communities in the region have similar goals, so Howard County increasingly competes for businesses, residents and workers. It’s a hard race and we are not always keeping pace. One area where we are in danger of falling behind is bike routes. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Delegation unfairly blamed for shortcomings on education funding, opioids

A few Carroll County commissioners, particularly Doug Howard, were extraordinarily critical of the county’s delegation to Annapolis earlier this week. “So I just want to make sure I get this right — they nailed Sunday gaming, junk cars and pinball machines, but nothing on drugs and schools? Would that be a fair assessment of what our delegation’s doing down there?” Howard stated after getting an update from the Board of County Commissioner’s new legislative liasion on progress being made on bills specific to Carroll County, but little advancement on commissioner proposals to deal with two of the most pressing issues in the county and statewide. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Same old story

The first major phase of Harford County’s annual public school budget review and approval ended earlier this week when the Board of Education passed Superintendent Barbara Canavan’s requested budget – with one small modification – and sent it on to Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. What was different between this year and preceding four budgets Canavan drew up? Not much, really. Canavan asked for $466.1 million; the board approved $466.2, adding a token $100,000 in the area of diversity and minority achievement. (Aegis)

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February 16 // Josh Tzuker: Eight years ago I wrote the last successful Federal Gun Bill, here’s what I learned. Here’s what is possible

When Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Viginia Tech I was counsel for Congressman John Dingell, a pragmatic, yet stalwart, supporter of gun rights. Democrats had recently taken control of the Congress, primarily by taking over districts that were once, and are now again, Republican. Then, as now, the tragedy was met with calls to do something. Yet unlike the numbing repetitive futility that has followed other spree killings, the Democratic Congress passed legislation to strengthen the background check system. It was signed by a Republican president. And believe it or not, it was supported by both the Brady Campaign and the NRA. (Medium)

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Wesley Pegden and Ariel D. Procaccia: There’s another way to solve gerrymandering. It’s as simple as cake.

Once a relatively obscure phenomenon, gerrymandering is having its moment. In the past year, there have been legal challenges to election district lines in Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina and in our home state of Pennsylvania. Regardless of the outcome of these cases, it’s clear the methods we use to draw our political maps are broken. Where new maps are drawn by state legislatures, majority parties have few checks on their ability to shape districts as they please, creating a circular process that keeps them in power, even when winning a minority of statewide votes. (Wash. Post)

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