Seismic testing and offshore drilling -- Absolutely not.

Bipartisanship is still possible, when the threat is clear, imminent and universal. East Coast states vary greatly in their political leanings, yet most of these states are united in opposition to offshore seismic testing. Seismic testing is a precursor to offshore drilling. Just as coastal states, including Maryland, are opposed to seismic testing, they are also opposed to offshore drilling. Nov. 30, the National Marine Fisheries Services announced final authorizations to allow seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean. Dec. 20, Maryland joined eight other states in announcing it would sue the federal government to prevent the testing for offshore oil exploration. (Daily Times)

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Josh Kurtz: Annapolis in Miniature

It has been a busy week in and around the State House, leading up to the holidays and the calm before the General Assembly session storm. But it was also Annapolis in miniature – a perfect microcosm of all that is interesting and infuriating about the key issues and key players in state government and politics. It has also given us a glimpse of what the next several months may look like – maybe even what the next four years will look like. (Md. Matters)

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Fleas don't trump the constitution. Maryland can't force home inspections for SHA employees.

It’s hard to imagine it. Coming to work every day in an office infested with fleas. But that’s what’s been happening to employees of the State Highway Administration’s Office of Traffic and Safety in Hanover. Despite pesticide treatments, the fleas keep coming back. What’s even more difficult to imagine is being forced to submit to a home inspection intended to determine if you’re the source of the fleas. Apparently, working for the Maryland Department of Transportation requires employees to put an asterisk on their Fourth Amendment rights. (Capital)

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Deborah Vollmer: Save the historic Farm Women’s Market in Bethesda

My mother used to take me to the Farm Women’s Market as a child to shop for ingredients for her home-cooked meals. It was a different time. Skylines were low, and you could see the stars at night. Wisconsin Avenue had not yet sprouted high-rise buildings. Development can be like the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg. Too much of it, and the community dies. Roads become congested, schools become crowded and infrastructure collapses. Sometimes, historic landmarks are lost, and a community may lose its sense of identity. This is happening in downtown Bethesda. (Wash. Post)

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Len Lazarick: Legislative Leaders Shelve New School Funding Another Year

The most expensive and most controversial issue facing the new legislature — increasing the formulas for school funding — has been shelved for another year. The House speaker and Senate president told the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education in a letter that there was not enough time for the legislature to take up both its policy changes and its funding decisions in the 90-day session that starts in three weeks. (Md. Reporter)

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Md. U.S. Attorney: Feds To Ramp Up Fentanyl Cases, Begin In Baltimore

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced that fentanyl has displaced heroin as the deadliest drug in America. Here in Maryland, fentanyl will kill more than 2,000 people this year, after killing almost 1,600 last year, and up from 58 in 2013 — an increase of 3,400 percent in just five years. And in Baltimore, fentanyl overdoses will take at least twice as many lives as homicides. Fentanyl is cheap, potent, highly addictive and deadly. (Balt. Sun)

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Harford County schools job losses show need for Kirwan Commission funding

One of my favorite things about my husband is his whole-hearted belief that teaching is possibly the most important profession there is, and that educators should be treasured and well supported. Like so many of my friends here in Harford County, I am deeply saddened that most likely, a lot of educators are going to lose their jobs soon, our class sizes are going to go up, and accordingly, stress will go up for the educators who remain (“Harford superintendent proposes cutting 179 teaching, administrative positions to close $35 million budget gap,” Dec. 18). (Balt. Sun)

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What Hopkins needs to do to win community support for a police force

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants to make reducing Baltimore crime a top priority in the upcoming General Assembly session, and we are certainly hopeful that will translate into more state support for the city in its ongoing struggle with violence. This fall, Mayor Catherine Pugh outlined a series of investments the state could make that would have the greatest impact, and Mr. Miller indicated support for some of the most important ones, including funds to put more officers on the street and to create a new training academy at Coppin State University to speed up the hiring process and improve the quality of the force. (Balt. Sun)

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