March 16 // Enough with the non-repeal of the non-road kill bill

We have never cared much one way or the other about the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016, or the "road kill bill," as Gov. Larry Hogan likes to call it. When it was first proposed, we called it a "nothing-burger" and argued against its passage. We didn't get all that worked up about it, though, because its only effect is to add some more steps to the already robust process by which the Department of Transportation has long set its spending priorities for new capital projects and to create a ranking system that the governor could ignore as he sees fit. Thus, it didn't make much sense to us that Governor Hogan acted as if it was a threat to the very foundations of our republic. It makes even less sense, then, that the Senate is now considering a bill to delay the non-impact of the legislation for another two years. (Balt. Sun)

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Special-interest cash could kill bail reform in Maryland

Maryland is a small state, but it is a colossus to the special-interest lobbyists from the bail bonds industry. Only California and Florida, states six and three times more populous than the Old Line State, respectively, rake in more campaign cash from the bail bonds business. The industry is so desperate to block meaningful systemic reform — and maintain a status quo that empties the wallets of poor and disproportionately minority defendants — that in addition to greasing the palms (read: campaign accounts) of key individual legislators who do its bidding in Annapolis, it has spent more than $20,000 throwing lavish dinners for all 19 members of the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee over the past four years, according to Common Cause Maryland. (Wash. Post)

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Brandon Cooper: Md. Senate puts ‘political games’ over education, says former school board candidate

Last week, I had a public job interview before the Maryland Senate Executive Nominations Committee. The job was an appointment by Gov. Larry Hogan to a voluntary position on the State Board of Education, a 12-member body that oversees the State Department of Education. I would have been the only member from Prince George's County and the only member to graduate from a public high school in the 21st century. Unfortunately, my potential for contributing a missing perspective to address the problems with our public schools was not the focus of my job interview. Instead, hours before my confirmation hearing, a senator played political games by leaking to the media questions he would be asking me regarding closed traffic court cases from my past and my family's personal finances. (Balt. Sun)

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Alison Prost: Leave Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuaries alone

In the current hostile political climate, we can’t seem to agree on any government policy. But that’s exactly what happened in Maryland this past month. A poll found about 90 percent of Maryland voters, across party lines, want the state to protect oyster sanctuaries. There’s just one problem. The future of Maryland oyster sanctuaries is at risk. A proposal presented by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission would open up a net of nearly 1,000 acres of oyster sanctuaries to be harvested. (Daily Times)

 

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Del. Meagan Simonaire: Diversity vital for school board

Diversity has become the key sticking point of the school board debate this year. So, let's explore whether diversity really matters in 2017. So what is diversity? Webster's dictionary defines it as "the condition of having or being composed of differing elements." Often, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about diversity is race, and while that is part of it, it also has a much broader scope, encompassing race, gender, philosophy, experience, economic background, culture and more. This progression of questioning leads to: Is diversity a good thing? I think most would agree that diversity is beneficial, unless uniformity is your objective. (Capital)

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Latest overdose numbers disheartening; but education, treatment efforts need time

Carroll County has had a particularly tough start to the year when it comes to overdoses caused by heroin and other drugs. Through February, the latest data available, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office has already recorded 90 overdoses, about half of which were related to heroin, and 12 total overdose deaths in the first two months of the year. If the current numbers hold, that puts us on pace for about a third more overdoses and 50 percent more deaths than in 2016, when the county saw 412 total overdoses and 48 fatalities. These are frightening trends, particularly when so much effort has been put into educating young people about the dangers of heroin and other opioid drugs, getting addicts into treatment and putting the overdose antidote naloxone into more hands. (Carr. Co. Times)

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March 15 // John Danko: Mayor Pugh must veto the $15 minimum wage

My manufacturing company has survived 97 years in Baltimore. We have outlasted corporations like B&O Railroad and Bethlehem Steel as well as major regulatory changes, local crime, not to mention wars and recessions. Yet our company's future will be uncertain if the $15 minimum wage set to be passed by City Council next week takes effect. For the sake of all of Baltimore's small business owners, entry-level jobseekers, and broader economy, I urge Mayor Pugh to veto it. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Sharon McMahan: Take politics out of parole in Maryland

When I was 15, my brother was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. When they said life, my heart broke. I couldn’t imagine what I was going to do without him. I was angry with everyone at losing someone so precious to me. Our family couldn’t even talk about it, we were so devastated. Twenty years later, the same thing happened when Juan, my 17-year-old son, was killed. I learned then in grief counseling that I was also still grieving the loss of Sean. Sean’s life was taken away when he was a teenager, just like Juan’s. And I believe my son would still be alive if Sean had been home. Now, 33 years after I lost my big brother to the prison system, it feels like I’m fighting for both of them. (Wash. Post)

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