John Delaney: What’s really to blame for the immigration impasse? Gerrymandering.

Protecting immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation is both the correct thing to do and politically popular. If we take everyone at their word, almost everyone — including President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — wants it to happen. The program is already in place, and numerous bills already expand the protections that it provides beyond the March 5 expiration set by Trump. So why hasn't Congress acted? (Wash. Post)

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Laslo Boyd: The assault on public opinion

One of the underlying premises of a democracy is that government must be responsive to the will of the people. The clearest manifestation of that obligation is the direct election of government officials. How the concept works between elections is not always so clear. Our understanding of “what the public wants” can come from a number of different sources. (From a Certain Point of View)

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Amazon, yes; blank check, no

Maryland’s transportation secretary said something the other day in Annapolis that likely surprised some folks in the Baltimore region. Testifying before a Senate committee Tuesday, Pete K. Rahn said the Hogan administration was prepared to write a “blank check” for whatever transportation improvements were needed to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to Montgomery County. That raises the possibility that the state could commit more than the $2 billion in possible road and transit upgrades already pledged as part of Maryland’s $5 billion bid for the second headquarters of the Seattle-based retail giant. (Balt. Sun)

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Marc Schindler and Kevin Ring: Hogan's crime bills won't actually reduce crime

As violence in Baltimore continues at unacceptably high levels, city residents are desperate for solutions. Unfortunately, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has proposed crime bills that sound tough but that won’t actually reduce crime. Stealing a page from the Trump-Sessions playbook, the governor’s plan relies on lengthy mandatory-minimum prison sentences. This approach will waste taxpayer dollars and exacerbate racial disparities in the state’s prisons without making the public safer. (Wash. Post)

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Malone keeps plugging on redistricting

Del. Michael Malone has a cure for Maryland's problem with the gerrymandering of congressional districts — a change to the state constitution the overwhelming majority of Maryland voters would back, if they ever got the chance. They will not get the chance, at least for the foreseeable future, any more than they will get the chance to vote on Gov. Larry Hogan's repeatedly offered — and repeatedly shelved — plan to assign district line-drawing to a nonpartisan commission. Regrettably, the state's Democratic majority is clinging to the same political malpractice that Republicans nationwide have used to cement their advantage over Democrats in the House of Representatives. (Capital)

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Alison Prost: Legislation can help preserve forests

Environmentalists will once again try during the Maryland legislative session to save Maryland’s forests, and save us all millions of dollars in the process. But having been rebuffed last year, we’re taking a different approach. We’ve talked to local government officials throughout the state, soliciting their ideas for how to improve the state’s Forest Conservation Act, the 1991 law has come up far short of its goal of protecting forests from development. Many local officials feel hamstrung when developers propose cutting down large swathes of forest. (Capital)

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February 7 // What does the Pa. redistricting case mean for Maryland? More hypocrisy.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand a state court ruling ordering Pennsylvania to draw new congressional districts doesn’t have any direct legal impact on Maryland’s own contested and convoluted maps. The Pennsylvania case was decided solely on the basis of that state’s constitution, not federal law or the U.S. Constitution, and that appears to be the reason why Justice Samuel Alito declined to have the federal high court take up the case. Maryland’s Declaration of Rights does have some language similar to that which plaintiffs relied on in the Pennsylvania case, but the challenge to Maryland’s lines that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this spring is being argued on the basis of alleged violations of the federal Constitution’s First Amendment protections of speech and assembly. There are simply no tea leaves to read here. (Balt. Sun)

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Ocean City finds wind turbines too gauche

In Ocean City, there’s a boardwalk “odditorium” with authentic shrunken heads, two-headed animals and a fake shark plunging through the second floor. Down the street, there are two dead malls and surf shops selling t-shirts with obscene logos, and there’s even been a major legal battle over topless sunbathing. Amid all this, members of the Ocean City Council were focused this week on the possibility that planned off-shore wind turbines might be visible, under certain weather conditions, from the beach, and that they would absolutely devastate the resort’s ability to attract tourists. (Balt. Sun)

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