March 28 // Alcohol tax increase linked to drop in harm from drunk driving

Alcohol-related crashes where people were killed or hurt dropped by an annual rate of 6 percent after the state raised the alcohol sales tax in 2011, according to a University of Maryland-led study to be released Monday. The decline, which was even higher for younger drivers, was more significant than researchers expected from the tax hike. "If there was no tax we would have seen the rate go down but not to that level," said Marie-Claude Lavoie, an epidemiologist in the University of Maryland's department of epidemiology and public health and the study's lead author. (Balt. Sun)

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In rare move, Baltimore judge allows open hearing on officers' internal affairs complaints

In a rare move, a Baltimore judge on Monday allowed members of the public to attend a court hearing where internal affairs complaints against a city police officer were discussed in detail. Defense attorneys hailed the open hearing as a victory for transparency in an area that has long been kept secret. Police disciplinary records in Maryland are regarded as confidential documents, but the Office of the Public Defender has fought to obtain records for Sgt. Joseph Donato and bring them into court, arguing his credibility as an officer is tainted. (Balt. Sun)

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Ghost Fleet Of Mallows Bay Nears ‘National Marine Sanctuary’ Status

A National Marine Sanctuary would be a first for Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. The ghost fleet of Mallows Bay are now a big step closer to that designation. Mallows Bay sits in a bend of the Potomac River in Charles County. It’s the final resting place of almost 200 ships scuttled here over two centuries. A lot of those wrecks have evolved into lush islands. “It’s created this wonderful ecosystem where wildlife is thriving and it’s created a wonderful tourism attraction,” says Joel Dunn, president of the Chesapeake Conservancy. It’s also created a push to have Mallows Bay designated a National Marine Sanctuary. (WJZ-CBS)

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Some Pugh supporters say they feel betrayed by veto of $15 minimum wage

Mark McLaurin, political director for a local labor union, feels betrayed by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. During her successful campaign for Baltimore mayor, McLaurin's Service Employees International Union provided volunteers and financial support that helped push the Democrat to victory. But on Friday, the mayor broke a campaign pledge and vetoed the $15 hourly minimum wage legislation the union backed. (Balt. Sun)

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"This is the time," activists warn residents to get involved in Harford rezoning

Any Harford County resident who wants to have a say about future uses of properties in their neighborhoods must get involved now in the county's ongoing comprehensive zoning review process, according to community activists who serve as watchdogs over development. "This is the time to get involved," Morita Bruce, co-president of the nonprofit Friends of Harford, said Sunday. "Once zoning occurs, you're fighting with at least one hand tied behind your back." (Balt. Sun)

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Frederick aldermanic race increases to four

Another new face has entered the race for Frederick alderman. Antonio Bowens, a 26-year-old interior designer and Frederick resident, filed Wednesday to run for city alderman on the Democratic ticket. Bowens has never run for office and said he has been considering a run for alderman for a while. “Among my friends, it is the worst-kept secret,” he joked. Bowens is the fourth aldermanic candidate to officially file in the 2017 election. All five seats are up for election, as well as that of the mayor. (News-Post)

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Zika remains a threat, with 6 cases logged in Maryland this year

Zika is back — the threat never really went away. Maryland already has logged six cases of the virus among travelers this year, including one person in the Baltimore metro area, and Florida has reported residents infected locally. With mosquito season about to begin, state and local public health officials are gearing up efforts for further spread of the Zika virus blamed for devastating brain defects in newborns and neurological and eye problems in adults. The effort to prevent infections gained added urgency this month after researchers tied the mosquito-borne virus to potentially deadly heart problems. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore among most 'green' cities for real estate

Baltimore is one of the most "green" cities in the country when it comes to real estate. The city has 1.6 million square feet of LEED-certified space from the U.S. Green Building Council, and has 15 buildings with LEED medals. That ranks 23rd among all major cities in the U.S., according to data compiled by the Business Journals. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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