The trees at Leakin Park

Supporters of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park are understandably alarmed by a BGE plan to build a new gas pipeline through the area. The pipeline, which serves about 90,000 customers in the city and county, was one of the first such conduits built in the Baltimore region, and it has been repaired dozens of times since it was first laid in 1949. But the company says it's now reached the end of its useful life and must be replaced. The problem is that building a new pipeline along the original route may be impossible under today's stricter environmental regulations, while the available alternatives could require the company to cut down hundreds of the park's historic and beloved old-growth trees. (Balt. Sun)

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Joshua Sharfstein: A stronger disabilities agency for Maryland

Marylanders with developmental disabilities deserve the opportunity to reach for their potential to live independently, work, and contribute to their communities. As Secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, I am responsible for the Developmental Disabilities Administration, the agency that finances a broad range of services to advance this goal. A federal audit this month detailing faults with the state's billing of the federal government brought attention to the DDA, but our efforts to improve support for Marylanders with developmental disabilities — and to reform the agency itself — began long before that report and far exceed its scope. (Balt. Sun)

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William Baker: Setting the record straight on Arundel's stormwater fees

In recent testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman inaccurately depicted her county and others in Maryland as unsuspecting victims of a 2012 state law dealing with "stormwater utility fees." The fact is Anne Arundel, like other counties, is contributing significant polluted runoff to the Chesapeake Bay and therefore must do more to fix that problem. (Balt. Sun)

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Weakening the war on heroin

On its face, it may make sense to reassign four Maryland State Police troopers from a joint narcotics task force with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Public attitude has softened when it comes to drugs, especially marijuana. Where this realignment is worrying is in the face of a boom in the trade and use of heroin, one of the cheapest, nastiest, dirtiest, most addictive drugs to abuse. (News-Post)

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Bill Kennedy: GOP lacks vision for the future

I’ve been wondering and becoming more and more concerned about whether the once Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan has really lost its way and is on the path to being completely irrelevant to most Americans. A political party that once came up with ideas that were reasonable solutions to the country’s problems and was at least open to compromise with the loyal opposition now seems to lack the vision to do more than dig in its heels and say no to any proposal from the Democrats, even if it began as a good idea from their side. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Barry Rascovar: Race is on for Md. governor — Establishment Brown vs. Outsider Gansler?

Now the race for Maryland governor starts for real. The two main contenders are in the ring for what promises to be an aggressive contest race that has no precedent in Maryland history. What makes the 2014 gubernatorial election so unusual is the timing. Rather than holding the primary in September as is traditional, this one takes place June 24. That early date will cut down substantially on turnout, play havoc with fundraising and compress the full fury of the campaign into about 80 days once the General Assembly ends its session on April 7. (Md. Reporter)

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Joe Surkiewicz: JustAdvice clinic is a law firm on wheels 

As if food trucks weren’t trendy enough, Baltimore now has its first mobile law firm. (Daily Record)

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Sept. 30 // Maryland law on sex offenders and child custody must be revisited

Andrew Mojica is a registered-for-life sex offender in Maryland. As such, he’s barred from knowingly entering a school or child-care facility without written permission. However, Mr. Mojica is allowed unsupervised visits, including overnight, with his 4-year-old son despite fierce objections from the boy’s mother. The anomaly — other words come to mind — is the result of cracks in state law and a court system seemingly so suspicious of any parent who seeks to limit another parent’s access to their child that it is willing to discount potential risks. (Wash. Post)

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