August 19 // Opening Md. government

A group of do-gooders has picked Maryland as its test case for trying to make state and local government more transparent and participatory using technology, and they've already made some inroads in improving the way state and local laws are published on the web. But the source of this effort may surprise some in this deep blue state: Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who serves as one of President Barack Obama's chief antagonists in Congress. (Balt. Sun)

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Carol Browner: The importance of Maryland's leadership on climate change

During my service as the secretary of Environmental Regulation in Florida and Environmental Protection Agency administrator, I came to appreciate that state action is central to strong environmental protection. Working with the states, the EPA has established and implemented important pollution limits for dangerous toxic emissions including arsenic, mercury and lead. It only makes sense to do the same for carbon pollution, just as Gov. Martin O'Malley recently proposed. (Balt. Sun)

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Solar power is increasingly being used to produce electricity on Delmarva

It wasn’t until recently that any urgency was attached to the development of practical and affordable solar energy production. Just last week, the White House installed its first solar panels while the president and his family vacationed, fulfilling a promise made three years ago. Closer to home, Perdue Farms Inc. received Platinum LEED building certification and recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council for the company’s environmentally friendly renovation of its headquarters in Salisbury. In addition to a host of energy-saving built-ins, the company installed a highly visible array of solar panels behind its headquarters, along westbound Route 50. Those panels now supply an impressive 95 percent of the electricity needed to operate the office building. (Daily Times)

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Coalition could use input

The Maryland Rural Counties Coalition says that it is making an impact on state legislators when it comes to enlightening them about how some state regulations impact the more rural areas of the state, but moving forward the group may want to spend a little effort trying to connect to the actual people whom they purport to represent. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Harbor Point

Those who are dead set against the proposed $107 million in tax increment financing bonds to cover roads, parks and other infrastructure associated with the Harbor Point project are bound to find disquieting the news that developer Michael Beatty plans to buy the first installment of the bonds himself. To the deal's biggest critics, it sounds like self-dealing and begs the question of why Mr. Beatty can't just pay cash for the infrastructure instead of getting the city to issue bonds. But an objective view of this development in the Harbor Point saga has to hold that it makes the deal somewhat better for the city. (Balt. Sun)

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Jim Lee: Prepare for an O'Malley invasion

If the unthinkable happened and Gov. Martin O’Malley ran for president, and won, all those folks who want to make Western Maryland its own state would have go the additional step of making it its own country. I can’t help but think that those calling for Carroll and other western counties to form a new state haven’t really thought things through. Most importantly for a lot of families would be the huge hike they would have to pay in tuition costs if their kids wanted to go to the University of Maryland or other powerhouse schools here because they would be classified as out-of-state students. But beyond that, even a new state wouldn’t be able to escape most regulations and laws. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Mandatory drug sentences need a good hard look

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t the only official queasy about the effect of long mandatory sentences for drug offenses on prisons, the criminal justice system and America as a whole. Just read between the lines in our stories on Anne Arundel County’s drug court program, or in the stories in which judges are obviously straining to minimize some sentences, or at least keep young offenders in the county jail rather than sending them to state prisons. You can see that professionals in the system — including judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys — often prefer some combination of probation and treatment for nonviolent drug offenders. (Capital)

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A smarter way to start high schoolers’ days

Since the mid-1990s, school districts of varying size across the country have taken measures to push back morning start times for high school students. The reason is simple: To function at their most alert levels and to maintain the healthiest possible lifestyles, adolescents need more sleep and early start times at schools interfere with their natural circadian rhythms, making it almost impossible for them to get the rest they need. (Wash. Post)

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