Monday, July 15, 2024 | Baltimore, MD
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Commentary

Fines and Fees Keep Marylanders From Accessing Justice

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented financial burden for Marylanders, with high rates of unemployment, businesses shuttering, and the deaths of family and friends. While we will never be able to repair the deep harms this virus has caused fully, this session of the Maryland General Assembly presents multiple opportunities to alleviate financial harm, particularly in the justice system. There might be no place where the effect of income loss is more potent than the criminal justice system.

Elfreth’s stormwater bill provides added push on assessing threat of climate change in Maryland

There is overwhelming evidence that climate change will mean more rainfall for this region. As the atmosphere warms, it will hold more moisture, and storms will cover larger areas and occur more frequently. Finding the information needed to make good decisions on this is difficult. Maryland doesn’t require forward-looking threat assessments for homebuyers, for example, as we reported last month in our series Sink or Swim.

Here’s a look at how zoning in Montgomery County can impact a neighborhood block by block

The last few months of 2020 featured quite a few developments that could help shift the dynamics in Montgomery County’s affordable housing crisis. The county council approved incentives to build high rises on WMATA property, unanimously voted to end the county’s housing moratorium, and will soon consider a measure to allow for missing middle housing close to metro stations. Councilmember Nancy Navarro (District 4) also sponsored Bill 44-20, which passed and will require the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) to submit a racial equity and social justice impact statement for each Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA), a requirement that is already in place for bills.

Without impeachment conviction, the assault on truth will continue

After the Jan. 6 insurrection by supporters of Donald Trump, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “This mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Pandemic has shown we can reduce arrests without an uptick in crime

COVID-19 has laid bare many societal challenges, including those in our criminal justice system. How can we continue to incarcerate people for petty offenses at a time when sending someone to prison can be a death sentence? The Sun’s recent article showing a reduction in arrests and prosecutions in Baltimore City, with no discernible uptick in crime, shows that we can be smart about crime, protect public health, and promote public safety simultaneously.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Kurtz: Maryland must take drastic action to limit climate change; this legislation is it

The Maryland General Assembly convened its annual session this month, and lawmakers are staring down a bevy of crises. There are the obvious political, economic and health crises, but looming next to those is climate change and its long-term repercussions to the state. We’re losing agricultural land to saltwater intrusion due to rising sea levels. Rainstorms are increasing in frequency and ferocity — resembling the heavy rain spells typically seen in tropical climates. Coastal communities such as Annapolis are dealing with tidal flooding that threatens historic and commercially important areas.

Read More: Balt Sun
Editorial: As the virus mutates, here’s another public health failing that needs correcting

Vaccines offer hope for an easing of the pandemic, but the coronavirus is not loitering around, waiting to be vanquished. Two significant genetic variants in Britain and South Africa pose a challenge on top of all the other misery and suffering. They require an urgent response and a concerted effort to scale up genomic surveillance in the United States so we aren’t flying blind into the next storm. All viruses mutate, and most mutations have little consequence. But some variants in the genetic makeup can cause significant changes in viral behavior and in the ability of vaccines to protect against it.

Read More: Wash Post
Editorial: Maryland must do more to get COVID vaccine to African American, LatinX communities

We know it’s early in the COVID-19 vaccine game, but preliminary data show the most vulnerable demographics, people of color who are most likely to contract the virus and die from it, are already getting left behind. In Maryland, about 16% of the first doses for which race data is available went to African Americans, and 4.6% to Latino people. White people have received 66% of the first shots. Nationwide, a similar pattern is forming. A report by Kaiser Health News found that in 16 states that have released data by race, white residents are being vaccinated in many cases at two to three times higher the rates of African Americans and Latinos.

Read More: Balt Sun
Allen: Everyone should be wearing N95 masks now

We are rightly grateful to the front-line health-care workers who put their lives on the line each day. Their relative risk of death rose 20 percent in 2020 over previous years. We should also be grateful for the bakers and cooks, whose risk of death rose more than 50 percent. And for maids and truck drivers, who saw a 30 percent increase in death risk. And construction workers and shipping clerks, up more than 40 percent.

Read More: Wash Post
Bishop: Politics and passion drive push to open or close schools, but what does the data say?

The reluctance to reopen Maryland schools amid a deadly pandemic is understandable, particularly from parents and teachers of small children. We know that they are germ factories on a good day and the source of most every cold, flu bout and weird rash experienced in many a household. My own child has brought home, at various times: hand, foot and mouth disease from day care; influenza, strep throat and ringworm from elementary school; and molluscum contagiosum from summer camp.

Read More: Balt Sun

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