Democratic attorneys general appeal ruling that struck down Affordable Care Act

A coalition of Democratic attorneys general appealed a ruling by a conservative Texas federal judge that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional — launching a process Thursday that could land the law before the U.S. Supreme Court for a third time. The appeal, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, begins the cases' path through the judiciary after the trial judge agreed last weekend that the health care law would remain in effect while higher courts consider his opinion. (Balt. Sun)

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Hogan proposes $56.5 million to spur development and business creation in Maryland 'Opportunity Zones'

Gov. Larry Hogan came to Baltimore Thursday to propose spending $56.5 million to support development and business creation in Maryland’s "Opportunity Zones," areas in the state included in a federal tax-incentive program designed to direct investment into struggling communities. Under a plan the governor announced Thursday, the state would create a series of initiatives to attract investment. Hogan’s plan involves offering additional state tax credits, job training programs, small business loans and affordable housing incentives, in some cases through proposed legislation. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore police commissioner nominee's resume overstates accomplishments on violent crime drop, body cameras

In a resume submitted in his bid to become Baltimore police commissioner, Joel Fitzgerald pitched himself as a community-minded reformer and an effective crime fighter — just what the city’s leaders are looking for. But in the document, Fitzgerald overstates some of his achievements since becoming police chief in Fort Worth, Texas, in October 2015. In one case, he misrepresents his role in the Fort Worth police department’s body camera program. In another, he paints a rosier picture of his results in bringing down crime than FBI data reflects. (Balt. Sun)

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Record number of women to serve in U.S. Congress and Maryland General Assembly

New members of the U.S. Congress and Maryland General Assembly being seated this month have pushed female representation in both legislative bodies to record levels. The 116th Congress, which begins today, has 127 female voting members (102 in the House and 25 in the Senate), 20 more than the 115th Congress, itself a record-setter. Maryland's 10-member delegation remains all male. When it opens its annual session on Wednesday, the Maryland General Assembly will have 72 female members (57 in the House and 15 in the Senate), five more than the previous record, set in 2005. (Balt. Sun)

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Hogan votes against ‘Potomac Pipeline’ following years of opposition from activists

Maryland officials voted Wednesday to block Columbia Gas from using state land to build a natural gas pipeline that activists have been fighting for two years. The unanimous vote by the Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Larry Hogan, came after more than 60 members of the General Assembly wrote a letter urging the board to deny a request from Columbia Gas to construct a distribution line under the Western Maryland Rail Trail. The board’s decision presents a serious hurdle for the project, which had been approved by federal and state regulatory agencies. (Wash. Post)

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Former Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith named Baltimore County press secretary by Olszewski

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced several new members of his leadership team Wednesday — including naming former Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith as press secretary. A consistent face for the Baltimore Police Department, Smith resigned from his role there in October, citing an unstable environment, “mudslinging” and “political turmoil” within the department as the main reasons for his departure. Olszewski also named Rhoda Benjamin as director of human resources, Jeff Mayhew as acting director of planning, and Mike Mohler as acting director of permits, approvals and inspections. (Balt. Sun)

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A look at Maryland's congressional delegation members entering a new session

Members of Maryland’s delegation to the 116th U.S. Congress are expected to play key roles in the new session that begins Thursday, particularly in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are taking back control of the chamber. Representatives and senators will start the new year’s session amid a partial federal government shutdown that’s nearing two weeks in duration. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland among states feeling government shutdown, with 147K federal employee out of work

Maryland is among the states most feeling the effects of the government shutdown. Thousands of federal employees who live in Maryland are now out of work, more than 147,000 be more exact. Many don’t know when they’ll be back to work. The largest group reports to the Social Security Administration, headquartered in Woodlawn, where the lights are on, and its 11,000 workers can still cash a paycheck. But that’s not the case in other departments, especially where the money has already run dry. (WJZ-CBS)

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