Maryland Zoo to spend $3.5M to upgrade elephants' home

As the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore completes construction of its new penguin exhibit later this year, the institution will next begin renovating its elephant yard. The zoo at Druid Hill Park is slated to receive $5 million in capital funding from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget for fiscal 2015. If the budget passes, $3.5 million will go toward elephant yard renovations and $1.5 million will fund general zoo maintenance, CEO Don Hutchinson said. There is currently about $13 million to $14 million worth of construction underway at the zoo, Hutchinson said. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Leon Billings: Recalling the long, hard slog to a 'historic piece of legislation'

When the famously volatile Sen. Ed Muskie was "particularly testy," his staffers had a solution: Call Leon Billings. Billings, who worked with Muskie for more than a decade, would find the Maine Democrat in his office, brooding over legislative annoyances or a setback to his 1972 presidential campaign. "I heard later that they called me 'red meat,'" the former Maryland delegate said in a recent interview. He was more than willing to play the part. "My personality was not significantly affected by the fact that he was yelling at me. Sometimes I would just laugh at him, and it would really tick him off." (E&E Daily)

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Baltimore Director of Social Services resigns

The director of Baltimore's Department of Social Services office announced her resignation Tuesday, after seven years leading the agency. Molly McGrath Tierney said she was leaving to join Bennett Midland, a New York-based management consulting firm, as a senior partner. Her last day will be Feb. 28. (Balt. Sun)

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Lawmakers: Legalize, regulate, tax marijuana

Maryland could join Colorado in legalizing marijuana if lawmakers pass a proposal to tax and regulate pot, similar to alcohol, in the Free State. Lawmakers backed by the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland — which includes Maryland chapters of the ACLU and the League of Women Voters — are supporting legislation that would make the personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults ages 21 and older. (Gazette)

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Min. wage a hot-button issue in Md.

Whether or not Maryland should raise its minimum wage is slated to be one of the biggest issues in this year’s general assembly. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties already raised their minimum wage after both approved a measure last year to raise it to $11.50 by 2017. (Star Dem.)

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County considers improvements to little-used MARC station

Boyds’ MARC station, once under threat of closure, may be the focus for transit improvements in the near future. The county is in the early stages of planning a more versatile design for the MARC station area, which would include park-and-ride, a turnaround and station for Ride On buses. (Gazette)

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Prince George's delegate's latest plan would put more limits on speed cameras

After rescinding a bill to expand speed camera hours, Del. Dereck Davis (D-Dist. 25) of Mitchellville is proposing legislation to stop use of the devices in school zones during school holidays and summer breaks. Under current law, speed cameras may operate in a school zone only from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday — even on weekdays when school isn’t in session. Speed cameras may also operate in designated work zones. (Gazette)

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Who's enrolling in Maryland's health exchange: An age breakdown

The key 35 and under crowd accounts for about a third of the people who have enrolled in private insurance plans through Maryland’s exchange. Overall, Maryland is struggling to enroll people in its exchange, largely because of technical glitches that make navigating the website a challenge for users. But new analysis of the people who have succeeded in signing up shows progress in attracting a key demographic — young people. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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