Maryland lawmakers want to spend billions more on schools. Where will they find the money?

Maryland lawmakers are trying to pull off an improbable feat: Finding a way to raise billions of dollars for public education without most residents noticing a hit to their wallets. Democratic leaders of the state’s legislature have promised to fund an array of improvements to public schools — including expanded prekindergarten, increased teacher pay and other programs — without a broad-based tax increase. Leading lawmakers haven’t yet unveiled their plan of how to make it work, even as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continues to hammer a message that they’re being irresponsible by pushing reforms without a way to pay for it. (Balt. Sun)

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Former state Del. Cheryl Glenn pleads guilty to federal wire fraud, bribery charges

Former state Del. Cheryl Glenn pleaded guilty to bribery and wire fraud charges in court Wednesday, about a month after federal prosecutors unveiled charges alleging she accepted political bribes. During an arraignment hearing at the U.S. District Courthouse in Baltimore, Glenn pleaded guilty to two charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 8. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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A Republican has never represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. These Republicans are running anyway.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 4 to 1 in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from lining up to run for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eight Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination in a Feb. 4 special primary for the seat left vacant by the October death of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings. They say they are eager to bring their ideas to the district that includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. (Balt. Sun)

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Feds to cut up to 15,000 in Baltimore from food stamps; Maryland, other states suing to halt change

As many as 15,000 people in Baltimore could see their food stamp benefits slashed under a new Trump administration rule that tightens eligibility requirements. Maryland recently joined more than a dozen states in suing to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from moving forward with the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. But should the rule go into effect as planned this spring, it would have a devastating impact on Baltimore’s economy and the health of its residents, city officials wrote in a declaration of support for the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction. (Balt. Sun)

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Hogan: Lift H-2B visas cap to help Maryland's seafood industry

With Maryland’s blue crab harvest season starting on April 1, Gov. Larry Hogan is urging federal officials to make more H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas available to help protect Maryland’s $355 million seafood industry and supply chain. In a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, the governor also called for a long-term, permanent solution to provide certainty to rural Maryland and in particular the Eastern Shore. (Delmarva)

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The answer to America’s health care cost problem might be in Maryland

Barry Ronan, the president and chief executive of Western Maryland Health System, has an unofficial motto as patients leave his hospital: “We hope to never see you again.” “We’re not that blunt,” Ronan clarified on a Monday morning in November, sitting in his office overlooking the campus of Western Maryland hospital, a series of sleek gray and blue buildings tucked in the Allegheny Mountains. “But that’s the subtle message.” Ronan’s attitude is an anomaly in the American health care system. Hospitals in the United States rely on having patients in their beds to keep their budgets afloat. His approach might seem particularly risky in Cumberland, a city whose population has dwindled to less than 20,000 residents and is still shedding jobs.
But it’s exactly what Maryland is trying to encourage. (Vox)

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Maryland General Assembly bills aim to put sports betting on 2020 ballot

Sports betting is back on the table this Maryland General Assembly session with multiple proposals that would let voters decide whether the wagers should be allowed in the state. At least two Senate bills and two bills in the House of Delegates would take the question to the ballot this fall for a voter referendum. Supporters of the measures say time is of the essence; if the proposals don't pass before the session ends in April, the state would have to wait until 2022 for another referendum opportunity, while many of Maryland's neighbors continue to grow existing sports wagering operations. (Wash. Bus. Journal)

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Bill allows transgender people to get new birth certificate

The Senate passed a bill earlier this week that would allow a person who changed their sex to have a new birth certificate issued, something that the transgender community said will help eliminate problems experienced when their legal identification doesn’t match their transition. Senate Bill 657 would allow a person to receive a new birth certificate to reflect the a change of sex, without the requirement of surgery. The individual seeking a new birth certificate also may list a new name if they provide a certified copy of a court order of the name change. (Wash. Post)

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