Grant from State Opioid Office Referred for Criminal Investigation

A $750,000 grant approved ― but never funded ― by Maryland’s opioid command center to open an Eastern Shore drug rehabilitation facility on an abandoned golf course has been referred by legislative auditors to Maryland’s attorney general for a criminal investigation. Other questionable grant spending within the three-year-old Opioid Operational Command Center should also be reviewed by criminal investigators, Legislative Auditor Gregory A. Hook wrote in a letter to lawmakers released publicly on Wednesday. The audit was prompted by an anonymous tip to the Office of Legislative Audits fraud, waste and abuse hotline. (Md. Matters)

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Local officials urge lawmakers to balance transportation spending statewide

Maryland’s county leaders and city officials convened in Annapolis on Wednesday to urge members of the General Assembly to improve annual funding to balance transportation spending statewide. “Transportation planning is not just about moving cars. It’s really about moving people. When we do transit, rather than just investing in roads, what we’re really doing is improving the health of our residents…we’re improving the environment when we get cars off the road and we’re addressing what it costs to live in our county and in our region,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said at a news conference across the street from the State House. (Md. Reporter)

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Measures would make changes to Md.’s open records laws

Lawmakers and open government advocates are promoting a package of three bills meant to modernize the state’s open records laws, which are now 50 years old. Supporters and users of state open records laws applaud them as giving the public more insight into government, but they frequently complain that state and local agencies are frequently slow to respond and sometimes ignore requests. The laws are frequently criticized as lacking enforcement outside costly court challenges. Rebecca Snyder, executive director of the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, which represents regional newspaper publishers, including The Daily Record, said many issues at the government level come down to records management on the part of the agencies. (Daily Record)

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Maryland Senate OKs ban on releasing balloons into the sky

The Maryland Senate has approved a measure that would create a statewide ban on the intentional release of balloons into the atmosphere. The Senate voted 38-3 on Tuesday for the measure. A similar bill is pending in the House of Delegates. The bill creates a civil penalty of up to $250 per violation by an organization or a person who is at least 13 years old. Supporters of the measure say it’s needed to stop littering. (Daily Records)

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Howard Del. Vanessa Atterbeary finds balance as a mom, a politician, an activist

Rain was falling for the second straight week in Howard County. It was midafternoon on Monday, and Del. Vanessa Atterbeary confidently walked into a Starbucks in Laurel and ordered an iced tea. She was dressed head to toe in black with a pop of color in her bright red lipstick. She sat down and set her phone on the wooden table. It instantly vibrated, a picture of her children illuminating in the background. (Balt Sun)

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More Baltimore women running for City Council, mirroring national trend: ‘We sure can’t go backward’

The national wave of women running for public office following President Donald Trump’s election has hit Baltimore with almost 20 women running for City Council in the city’s Democratic primary, waging campaigns in a majority of districts. Now, people are watching to see if the momentum that helped flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats in 2018 reaches into Baltimore’s April 28 election. (Balt Sun)

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‘The pain I feel daily’: Parents of slain Army lieutenant urge Maryland to change hate-crime law

The mother of Richard Collins III, the black Army lieutenant who was fatally stabbed by a white former University of Maryland student, begged lawmakers on Tuesday to broaden the state’s hate-crime law so that no other mother feels “the pain I feel daily.” Gripping a tissue with one hand and forming a fist with the other, Dawn Collins told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that she did not know that the threshold in Maryland’s hate-crime law was so high that their son’s killer, Sean Urbanski, would not be convicted of violating it. (Wash Post)

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Md. bill to block law enforcement cooperation with ICE spurs debate

Maryland lawmakers are again being asked to consider legislation banning local law enforcement agencies from turning over undocumented immigrants based on civil warrants. Supporters of the bill, introduced in previous years, hope it has a shot of passage now that a new chairman presides over the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The legislation, first introduced following the election of President Donald Trump, was seen as an effort to step into the debate over immigration policy and disrupt potential deportations by preventing local police departments from notifying federal immigration authorities that a person with an immigration detainer is in custody. (Daily Record)

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