Harford planning to streamline bus service, reduce ride times, extend weekday hours

Harford County is planning upgrades to its public bus system, beginning Monday, aimed at cutting down on the need to transfer and reducing wait times, county officials said. Weekday hours are also being extended. Ride times are expected to decrease by about a third. “The objective is to make Harford Transit LINK system more accessible and easier to use,” Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for Harford County government, said Tuesday. (Aegis)

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Howard County Council member seeks to tighten zoning rule, expand preservation oversight

Howard County Councilwoman Liz Walsh is proposing a pair of legislative measures — one aimed at closing what she calls a “loophole” in the protection of wetland areas and the other potentially expanding oversight duties of the county’s Historic Preservation Commission. Howard County currently prohibits developers from paving, grading or removing trees in areas including wetland buffers, steep slopes or near streams, unless it is deemed a necessary disturbance to build “roads, driveways, utilities, trails, pathways or stormwater management facilities” needed for “reasonable development” of the property. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Charter, opioids, agriculture, '3 E's' focus at State of the Carroll County

Charter government, the opioid epidemic, education, agriculture. Those were the biggest priorities that came out of this Board of Carroll County Commissioners’ 2019 State of the County address on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the Carroll Arts Center, an annual event put on by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Commissioners Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, and Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, focused on charter government, with Frazier likening commissioner-style government to the horse-drawn buggy — less efficient than government with a county executive at the top. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Maryland natural resources secretary Mark Belton leaving Hogan administration for Charles County post

Mark Belton, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, submitted his resignation to Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday as he returns to his former post as Charles County administrator. Belton has been leading the agency — responsible for state parks, crab and oyster fisheries and hunting and boating regulation — since February 2015, early in the Republican governor’s first term. He did not specify the timing of his departure, saying he would choose a date “that provides for a smooth transition for my successor.” (Balt. Sun)

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Schools, health care high on Harford agenda in General Assembly

Harford County’s 11-person legislative delegation — including three new members — will join their colleagues in Annapolis on Wednesday for the opening of the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session. The three senators and eight delegates plan to take on a host of local and statewide issues, including public school funding, access to health care, economic development, land use, even the potential legalization of marijuana and the expanded growth and use of legal hemp. “Going back as an experienced legislator, it’s an exciting time to return to the legislature,” said Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, a Democrat who was elected in November to a second four-year term representing District 34A. (Aegis)

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Poirier provides deciding vote as Mount Airy Council rejects liaison ordinance

The Mount Airy Town Council on Monday night voted against an ordinance that would’ve revoked the vote of the council liaison to the town’s Planning Commission on the volunteer body. The lawmakers and planning commissioners have debated for months the ordinance, which would amend the town code to prohibit its longstanding practice of allowing the town council liaison to the planning commission to be a full, voting member of that commission. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Baltimore to host third annual women's march Jan. 19 separate from D.C. event the same day

Even as controversy has splintered the leadership of the original women’s march, held the day after President Trump’s inauguration and in opposition to him, Baltimore and other cities will again host their own gatherings in what has become an annual event across the country. Organizers in Baltimore began making signs for the Jan. 19 march Tuesday night, when they also announced the details of this year’s local march, which starts with a rally at 11 a.m at City Hall. The march route has not been finalized. (Balt. Sun)

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Public Service Commission partially approves BGE rate hike request

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. customers will see their monthly gas bills increase by more than $5 this year after the Maryland Public Service Commission partially approved the utility's request for a rate increase. The commission's order issued Friday approved a total rate increase of $64.9 million, including $21.7 million currently being recovered through a surcharge on customer bills through an infrastructure improvement program. As a result of the commission's order, the average residential monthly gas bill will increase by $5.40. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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