Rick Hutzell: Busch and Kipke are something new

Watching Mike Busch and Nic Kipke banter, you wouldn’t confuse Maryland’s speaker of the House of Delegates and the House minority leader for friends. But you might consider them, well, friendly. “I moved from the back row to the front row so I can keep an eye on this guy,” Kipke said, nodding — we didn’t planned it this way — to his left. (Capital)

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Meredith Slater: Teaching the hungry to help themselves

Food insecurity has become a major issue in the United States. More families than ever before are depending on government assistance and other nutritional aid to supplement their diets. And the problem is only going to get worse as Congress considers billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. Food prices have risen in the past couple of years due to droughts in the United States and other countries. (Balt. Sun)

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Don Herring: A note to AARP

Darn you, AARP! I had learned to live comfortably within my means — but then I began reading your December AARP Bulletin. It was disturbing. There it was — on Page 26 — in a typographically attractive box headlined “Living on Less.” “Income drops dramatically after age 65,” it read. Tell me about it. What followed was a listing of 2012 median household incomes for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The figures were divided between people 45 to 64 years old and people 65 and over. (Star Dem.)

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Dec. 17 // Dance's conflict

Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance's decision to quit a consulting job with a company that does business with the county schools was the right one. His explanation for why he's quitting, though, is all wrong, and it underscores the importance of the school board's plan to have a private talking-to with him on Tuesday night. (Balt. Sun)

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Protection and privacy

Here in Maryland as elsewhere in the nation, lawmakers are being spurred to action by revelations of an overreaching NSA and the emergence of advanced tracking and surveillance technology. Making new crime-fighting technology available to law enforcement makes sense, but not unless the general public’s right to privacy and the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment are preserved in the process. That challenge is precisely what a new legislative package co-sponsored by two Maryland state senators attempts to address, and we anticipate this will be the first of many pieces of legislation that will focus on this growing concern. (News-Post)

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Dan Rodricks: O’Malley promises on health exchange ring empty

Government competence, data-driven strategies, evidence-based policies and getting positive outcomes have been O'Malley trademarks since his days as mayor of Baltimore. As governor, O'Malley continued to present himself as a smart-government moderate who could clean up any mess — the fiscal one his Republican predecessor had left in Annapolis, for starters. That will be an impressive, if wonky, record for O'Malley to tout when he runs for president. Unless, of course, Maryland's health insurance exchange goes down as one of the worst in the nation. (Balt. Sun)

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J.H. Snyder: The public, not the courts, should decide

In countries such as Russia and Iran, the public can vote in elections, but the elections are often viewed as less than fully democratic because the courts can eliminate opponents of the ruling regime from running for office. In America, courts have historically played a minimal role in narrowing the field of candidates. But Maryland appears on the verge of setting a precedent to change that. Last January, in a highly publicized trial, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, then Maryland's most senior Republican office holder, was convicted of misconduct in office. He was incarcerated, fined, required to provide community service and banned from running for office again for five years. (Balt. Sun)

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Why can't all 4-year-olds attend pre-K?

There is a continual push from local, state and national governments to create “preschool for all” programs and expand half-day programs to full day. While we understand all 4-year-olds would benefit from a structured learning environment, current regulations and lack of adequate funding limits our capacity to serve all children in that age group. (Daily Times)

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