Assembly advances bill requiring chickens raised in Maryland be antibiotic-free

Legislation advancing in both chambers of the General Assembly could make all chicken raised in Maryland free from antibiotics. The Senate and House of Delegates separately on Monday passed bills forbidding chicken companies from routinely giving birds antibiotics used to treat humans, unless the animals are sick. The measure follows concerns about the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock, and whether it erodes the medicines' effectiveness in humans. (Balt. Sun)

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March 20 // State commission would monitor health care coverage as Congress replaces ACA

The Maryland Senate on Friday adopted the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act to monitor congressional plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that could cost the state billions to maintain current coverage. The intent of the bill, SB571, offered by Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton and 31 other Democratic co-sponsors, is to study ways to prevent 400,000 Marylanders from losing health insurance and plan for a potential loss of $4 billion in federal Medicaid and Medicaid dollars that flow to the state each year. (Md. Reporter)

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Hogan's nominee for health secretary to get long-delayed hearing

Dennis R. Schrader, the state's acting health secretary, will get his long-delayed confirmation hearing Monday. Schrader has led the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since December. The Democrats who run the state Senate on Friday invited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's nominee to appear before the Executive Nominations Committee. Hogan charged at a news conference last week that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and the Democratic majority were dragging their feet. He charged that the Senate was leaving the department "rudderless" at a critical time, when the state has much at stake as the Trump administration and Congress debate replacing the Affordable Care Act. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland House passes moratorium on selling homes for unpaid water bills

Marylanders who fall behind on their water bills would get a year's reprieve from the threat of having their homes sold under legislation passed by the House of Delegates Saturday. The 125-12 vote sends the measure to the state Senate. The bill, sponsored by Del. Mary Washington, would apply statewide but have a significant impact in Baltimore. It would put a yearlong moratorium on the practice of selling people's homes when they fail to pay their water bills. A related bill that also passed Saturday would launch a task force to study ways of enforcing water charges without seizing homes. (Balt. Sun)

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Oyster sanctuary bill finds support in Md. House of Delegates

The House of Delegates voted 102-39 last week in favor of a bill that would keep intact existing oyster sanctuaries on the Chesapeake Bay, a blow to the commercial fishing industry's efforts to expand the state's oyster fisheries. Supporters and opponents of the bill, named the Oyster Management Plan, are both saying that their solution is best for the long-term health of the bay and its oyster population, which helps clean the Chesapeake by filtering nutrients like excess algae out of the water column. (Herald-Mail-AP)

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Trump administration files notice to appeal Maryland ruling on revised travel ban

The Trump administration filed court papers Friday hoping to salvage its second version of a travel ban after two judges in separate cases this week found that it probably violated the Constitution. The Justice Department filed papers in federal court in Maryland, setting up a new legal showdown in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia. Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued orders against the travel ban, finding that it violated the First Amendment by disfavoring a particular religion. If the Justice Department had appealed the Hawaii order, the case would have gone to the same San Francisco-based appeals court that rejected an earlier version of the travel ban. (Balt. Sun)

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Trump wants to end funding of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Here’s who’s fighting back.

When President Trump’s budget plan hit the Internet at midnight Wednesday, Virginia and Maryland environmental activists could not believe what they saw. A total elimination of the Chesapeake Bay program seemed impossible to them, considering the success of the federally funded six-state partnership over the past 15 years. But in a two-sentence section of its budget plan, the White House dismissed the massive cleanup of a water body so large it can easily be seen from space as a “regional effort” that should not be funded by Washington. So the activists got to work, along with elected officials from throughout the region, planning rallies, firing off dire warnings and promising to petition the Republican majority in Congress, which has the ultimate say over whether to defund bay restoration. (Wash. Post)

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March 17 // Maryland House approves revised $43.5 million budget

The House of Delegates passed a revised version of Gov. Larry Hogan's $43.5 billion state budget on a strong bipartisan vote Thursday, sending it to the state Senate. The vote on the budget bill was 135-6, with only a handful of the most conservative Republicans dissenting. There was no debate. The House then passed a companion bill, which was needed to balance the budget. In that bill, the House Appropriations Committee denied most of Hogan's proposals to repeal spending mandates that the General Assembly had previously adopted. (Balt. Sun)

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