Maryland House Speaker Busch says delegates to go live from chamber in 2020 with streaming feed of floor sessions

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch announced Tuesday that his chamber would begin livestreaming its sessions next year on the General Assembly’s website. The announcement comes one day after a bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced a bill that would require the streaming. “Transparency is key to an open and free government, and I have no doubt that embracing this technology in the House chamber will improve the public’s accessibility to the legislature,” Busch, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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‘You can’t be an absolutist’: Weighing a 2020 run, Bloomberg talks compromise

Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who is considering a presidential run, appeared in Annapolis on Tuesday to chide Washington over the government shutdown and talk about the importance of compromise. He gave the keynote speech Tuesday at a leadership conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, praising the late senator John McCain — an academy alumnus — for his independence and willingness to work across the aisle. Bloomberg, once a Republican and then a political independent, registered last year as a Democrat, stoking speculation about whether he will run for president. (Wash. Post)

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Lawmakers ponder change to polygraph requirement for correctional officers

Del. Mike McKay tried Tuesday to convince the House Judiciary Committee to back a bill to change the requirement that potential state correctional officers undergo lie-detector tests. McKay’s bill is an attempt to reduce the number of vacancies among correctional officers, which legislative analysts currently estimate at nearly 20 percent statewide. It would not eliminate polygraph tests altogether, but would let corrections officials to either require the test or a more extensive background check — or both. “We believe these six words, ‘or extensive background check, or both,’ will begin to address our staffing shortage,” McKay, R-Washington/Allegany, said. (Herald-Mail)

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Baltimore County councilman withdraws bill to halt rural solar projects

A Baltimore County councilman on Tuesday withdrew his bill that would have suspended the development of commercial solar facilities in rural areas. Councilman Wade Kach, a Cockeysville Republican who represents the north county, said he did not have support on the seven-member council to pass the legislation. The councilman wanted to impose a nine-month moratorium on solar projects on rural land, saying the county should study issues such as the impact on farmland and home values. But other members said it would be unfair to stop solar projects that already were approved. (Balt. Sun)

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Lawmakers weigh extending Md. ban on police use of DNA databases

A bill under consideration by lawmakers could bar police from using public DNA databases to assist in identifying criminal suspects. Maryland is the only state that already prohibits law enforcement from using familial DNA searches of samples within criminal databases. The District of Columbia has a similar provision. Del. Charles Sydnor, D-Baltimore County, said law enforcement’s ability to use commercially available databases including Ancestry and 23andme would undermine state law. Sydnor’s legislation would extend Maryland’s ban on police use of government DNA databases to the private-sector, commercial databases growing in popularity. (Daily Record)

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U.S. Commerce Secretary agrees to appear before Rep. Cummings' committee about census, citizenship question

Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has long sought to learn how the Trump administration came to develop a census question asking people their citizenship status, said Tuesday that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will testify before the Baltimore Democrat’s Committee on Oversight and Reform. Ross is expected to be asked at the hearing about the 2020 census question, which provoked a number of lawsuits — including one by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. (Balt. Sun)

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Thief steals former Maryland Sen. Mikulski's famed footstool, employee reports

At 4 feet 11, former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski almost stood a little shorter this week after a thief stole her famous footstool out of a car in Hampden. Mikulski’s signature footstool, which she uses for speaking engagements, was stolen out of an employee’s car on Falls Road in Hampden, according to an internet post from the employee Monday. The employee posted the story to the social media platform Nextdoor asking neighbors for help after a thief broke into her car and stole a bag containing the collapsible stool. She believed the thief mistook the bag for a purse and might have discarded the stool nearby upon discovery. (Balt. Sun)

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ICE Confirms Why It Ended Contract With Anne Arundel County

Federal immigration officials have confirmed that they ended a contract with a Maryland county to house immigration detainees because local officials quit participating in a screening program. The Capital reports that a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an email that the decision to end the contract with Anne Arundel County was tied directly to the county’s decision to no longer participate in the 287(g) program. The program trains correction officers to screen inmates for immigration violations. County Executive Steuart Pittman withdrew from the program in December, saying it didn’t make people safer. (WJZ-TV)

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