September 18 // Brian Griffiths: Lobbyist has history of self-interested crusades

Last week Maryland Matters reported that lobbyist Vinny DeMarco is making expansion of Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard his focus for the 2018 General Assembly session. Under the RPS, if I put a solar array on my roof to power my house, the power generated qualifies for a renewable energy credit. I then sell the credit to the electric company, which uses it to satisfy the RPS mandate. Ratepayers bear the cost through higher electric bills. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed the original modest RPS into law in 2004. Martin O’Malley accelerated it to 20 percent by 2022. In the last legislative session, Democrats overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto and pushed the RPS to 25 percent by 2020. (Capital)

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C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger: Medicaid cuts shift burdens to states

Thanks to massive grassroots mobilization efforts, our state narrowly averted disaster when Congress failed to pass any version of Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal that would have restructured Medicaid and left thousands of my constituents without health care coverage. Stopping health care repeal was a huge victory, but the fight is not over yet. Even deeper cuts to Medicaid have been proposed in the 2018 budget resolution, which would slash health care by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years to pay for billions in tax breaks to the rich and corporations over that same period. I worry that these cuts would not only have a devastating impact on families in my district but that they would have dangerous long-term consequences for state budgets and our local economy. (Balt. Sun)

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Claudia Diamond: Wanted -- women candidates in Md.'s 41st District

OK, I’ll admit it: I have precinct envy. I live in Maryland’s 41st legislative district, one of six state legislative districts located in Baltimore. It spans the city from North Charles Street in the east to Route 40 in the west. It’s an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, including Park Heights, which is smack in the middle, with Edmonson Village and Roland Park as the bookends. In 2018, the 41st , like most districts in Maryland, will elect one state senator and three delegates. The 41st, however, is electorally-challenged right now. (Balt. Sun)

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David Warnock: A 'Pugh Plan' for economic revitalization in Baltimore

Baltimore needs a “Pugh Plan” for economic revitalization of Baltimore now. While crime is top of mind in Baltimore, we are simply not going to police our way to prosperity. In addition, despite all the good work of grant makers, we will also not create a robust job creating economy off philanthropy alone. Baltimore has suffered badly from expedient responses when we need real long-term solutions. We need a real plan for career education, job creation and economic equity. Interest rates remain at historic lows, and our ability to finance transformative projects is unlikely to improve. We need it now and an activist Mayor Pugh to implement the plan. (Balt. Sun)

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Christine Real de Azua, Anne Vorce: Trees and taxpayers should beware the Purple Line

The $5.6 billion Purple Line contract signed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) saddles Maryland with a 40 percent increase in long-term debt — probably the largest in the state’s history. Taxpayers and trees beware: Exorbitant price is but the tip of the iceberg of the Purple Line’s harm and costs to taxpayers, area commuters, our environment and transit itself. The capital cost alone — $150 million per mile — is far higher than the costs for other comparable light-rail systems. The Maryland Transit Administration found that bus rapid transit alternatives would have been more cost-effective but chose light rail anyway. (Wash. Post)

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Rodricks: Emboldened criminals, plenty of guns, unsophisticated motives

Two weeks ago, a tow-truck driver, apparently concerned about the city’s recently deployed speed cameras, asked if I knew of any along Northern Parkway. I said I did not. “All these homicides in Baltimore,” he groused, “and all they care about is money from speeding tickets.” “Is that right?” I said. “That’s all we care about?” “Seems that way.” I recognized the guy’s voice. I’ve heard it before. It’s snarky and cynical. It mocks Baltimore as a failed state of high property taxes, sketchy revenue schemes and an outrageous level of criminality. Such views of the city are usually developed from a safe distance, informed more by AM talk radio and social media than by direct knowledge. I don’t pay much attention to it anymore. (Balt. Sun)

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Murder in Baltimore: What can be done?

The list of the victims is overwhelming and numbing. Name after name, murder after murder, homicide in Baltimore keeps coming, relentless in its march through the year. The killings also produce a feeling among the leaders of the state and city that Something Must Be Done. But what? The city is something of an outlier as far as violent crime goes. The FBI reported that nationally, violent crime is lower than it has been in more than 40 years, despite a slight uptick last year. Baltimore’s murder toll had been trending lower until 2015, when it jumped to the highest level since the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the temptation may be to return to a failed strategy of the past. (News-Post)

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Kevin Davis: The commissioner gets jury duty

My recent day of jury duty started off with the typical dread that others undoubtedly experience. How can I be unavailable for an entire day? I can't possibly be without my cell phone for so long! I most certainly will never be chosen to serve on a trial, so what's the point of sitting in a crowded jury room all day? Instead, it ended up being a most rewarding day that I won't soon forget. The criminal justice system is under great scrutiny nationally — and under a microscope in Baltimore. The police, prosecutors and judiciary all play equally important roles in public safety, and plenty of criticisms exist for all of us. (Balt. Sun)

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