'Jake's Law' draws mixed reaction from Frederick County legislators

Cellphone use while driving is already restricted, but some legislators want to go further. “Jake's Law,” named after a 5-year-old boy who was killed by a distracted driver in 2011, would impose a three-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $5,000 for someone convicted of causing a death or serious injury while texting and driving. The Maryland Senate unanimously passed the bill Thursday, and the House of Delegates approved its own version March 14. Some Frederick County lawmakers approved of the bill but thought it did not go far enough, while others considered it hasty policy. (News-Post)

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Amendment added to 'ban the box' bill

The Baltimore City Council is considering legislation that could help ex-offenders get jobs by limiting what employers can ask about their past, but not everyone is on board. The bill's sponsor, Councilman Nick Mosby, has added an amendment clarifying that federal, state or city jobs requiring background checks would not be affected by the bill. "I think this is a win-win, not just for the individuals who now have a shot to compete for these jobs, but also for the city and the communities in which they will be employed by," Mosby said. (WBAL-TV)

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Local leaders aim for regional approach

After the success late last year in coordinating passage of a minimum wage bill among Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the District of Columbia, leaders from local jurisdictions will meet periodically to address regional issues. Montgomery County Council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown hosted the heads of the Prince George’s, Howard and Arlington county councils and the Washington, D.C., council on Wednesday in Rockville, in the first of what leaders hope is an ongoing series of meetings. (Gazette)

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March 24 // Lt. Gov. Brown’s plan focuses on treatment of ex-offenders, marijuana decriminalization

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony G. Brown on Friday released a plan that incorporates proposals to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and to “shield” nonviolent criminal offenses from potential employers. The proposals are part of a broader 10-point plan put forward by Brown , the state’s lieutenant governor, with the aim of overhauling the way Maryland treats ex-offenders and views relatively minor drug offenses. Brown’s “Second Chances, Safer Communities” plan also calls for additional investments in housing, job training and other transitional services meant to ease the reentry of prisoners back into society. (Wash. Post)

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Brown, Frosh prevail in straw poll conducted by Young Democrats of Maryland

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown emerged Saturday as the winner of a gubernatorial straw poll conducted by the Young Democrats of Maryland at the group’s annual statewide convention. Brown received 62 votes, followed closely by Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery) with 57. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler lagged with 12 votes. All three Democratic hopefuls made separate presentations during the daylong gathering in Annapolis and were accompanied by their running mates, according to organizers of the event. (Wash. Post)

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General Assembly considers expanding state's 'move-over' law

After a tow truck operator from Green's Garage stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 795 in Reisterstown in January to help a motorist, she ended up needing a wrecker herself. A distracted driver veered off the road and hit her truck, causing nearly $10,000 in damage, according to Larry Green, owner of the Hampstead towing business and president of the Towing & Recovery Professionals of Maryland. The truck operator was not injured, Green said, but she and others face constant danger. Green supports legislation before the General Assembly that would require motorists to move over when possible when driving past tow trucks that are stopped on the side of the road with their lights on. (Balt. Sun)

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Bill to curb costly drug-dispensing by doctors stuck in committee

Legislation that would curb the practice of physicians directly dispensing prescription drugs to workers' compensation patients — often at sky-high prices — remains stuck in a House committee as time is running out in Annapolis. The proposal would limit the amount of medication a physician can sell directly to a patient to a 30-day supply. Proponents say the limit could help curb excessive workers' compensation costs. (Balt. Sun)

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In Montgomery, an uphill climb for council candidates from the upcounty

It’s only a half-mile from George Leventhal’s front door to the home of his neighbor and Montgomery County Council colleague Hans Riemer. Another colleague, Marc Elrich, lives about a mile away. All three are at-large council members, elected countywide to represent all 1 million people who live in Montgomery County. They reside in Takoma Park, a city of 17,000 just over the District line in the county’s southeast corner. While it is a rarity to have three at-large council members from one city or town, their concentration in lower Montgomery is no anomaly. The area’s heavier population and culture of liberal activism have traditionally given the advantage to at-large candidates from downcounty. (Wash. Post)

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