Residents urged to seek free tax prep

An estimated 20,000 households in Baltimore City are missing out on tax refunds, leaving unclaimed some $50 million that advocates said could help lift them out of poverty. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen marked Friday, the first day his agency started to accept 2013 returns, by urging Baltimore families to seek free tax preparation help. (Balt. Sun)

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Synagogue looks to create eruv downtown

Isaac Hametz doesn't identify as an Orthodox Jew, and neither do many of the Jewish people living in downtown. But the 30-year-old was enlisted by the leader of Lloyd Street's B'nai Israel congregation for a singularly Orthodox quest: Determine how to create a downtown eruv, a ritual zone typically marked by wire or string that makes possible certain activities otherwise forbidden on the Sabbath. (Balt. Sun)

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Four generations of farmers have adapted to opportunities, struggles on Delmarva

Farming, a risky and disappearing livelihood across Delmarva, is the life Brian Johnson knows and wants. He is a fourth-generation farmer on the family’s ELCeed Farms Inc., designated by the state as a “Century Farm” because it has been an active farm without interruption for 100 years. Johnson intends to pass the legacy to a fifth generation. (Daily News)

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FAA Demands BWI & Other Airports Make Safety Improvements

The FAA forces BWI and other airports to make changes to improve safety. About 1,000 times a day, a plane will take off or land at BWI—and do so safely. But five times in recent years, at other airports with runways that cross, planes have nearly collided when one has had to declare an emergency and circle around to land. (WJZ-CBS)

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Enrollment slows, but new insurance option introduced

The pace of enrollment on Maryland Health Connection has slowed in recent weeks, with 1,655 new people signing up between Jan. 19 and Jan. 25, bringing the total to 26,832 enrollees.A month ago, enrollment was increasing at a much brisker pace — with as many as 6,542 people enrolling in one week — as the Dec. 31 deadline to buy coverage that would begin on Jan. 1 approached. The following week, interest plummeted, with about 2,000 people signing up. (Daily Record)

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Jan. 31 // Kamenetz wants to ban cellphone kiosks, regulate electronics sales

Stores that buy used cellphones in Baltimore County would be regulated like pawnshops and automated cellphone-purchasing kiosks would be banned altogether under legislation unveiled Thursday by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Kamenetz said he would ask the County Council to approve the proposals by March in an effort to combat what he said is the growing problem of cellphone theft. (Balt. Sun)

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Frosh, Simmons aim for dog-bite solution

A bill backed by Montgomery legislators may help resolve whether certain breeds of dogs carry greater liability for their owners. The state has been trying to figure out how to handle dog attacks since a 2012 Maryland Court of Appeals decision. The court ruled that the owners of dogs or the property where they live are liable for injuries sustained if a dog bites someone. There has to be proof that the owner knew that the dog was a pit bull or a mixed-breed pit bull. (Gazette)

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Maryland Medicaid enrollment surges past projections

While the state is struggling to get Marylanders enrolled in private health plans through the new health exchange, Medicaid enrollment has already surpassed fiscal year-end projections. As of this week, a total of 121,000 Marylanders have enrolled in Medicaid, beating out projected enrollment of 110,000 people by the end of June. Charles Milligan, the state’s deputy health secretary for Medicaid, credits the high enrollment totals to early preparation. A majority of the new Medicaid enrollees did not have to navigate the troubled state exchange to sign up because they were part of a program that automatically transferred members to Medicaid Jan. 1. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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