Friday, September 24, 2021 |
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Commentary

Colbert & Starger: Detention fees unfairly burden poor people

Imagine the plight of Jason, a typical Maryland criminal defendant accused of selling drugs. Six months ago, Jason considered himself fortunate when his bail review judge ordered him confined on home detention before trial. That sure sounded better than being locked-up indefinitely in a cage and being exposed to the deadly COVID-19 virus. But after finding it difficult to raise the $400 to $600 monthly fee for his GPS monitoring bracelet, Jason’s not so sure.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Editorial: Want to reduce overdoses? Give people a safe place to do drugs.

The COVID-19 pandemic gives more reason for why the state should finally approve legislation creating overdose prevention sites, where people can use drugs in a safe setting staffed with medical professionals. Advocates of such sites, which already exist in 12 countries around the world, have tried for around half a decade to bring these centers to Maryland with no success. But with overdose rates on the rise, the state needs to try new ways to prevent more deaths.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Milbank: The ‘civil war’ for the soul of the GOP is over before it began. Trump won — again.

The supposed civil war within the Republican Party is over. The neo-Confederates have won. Just three weeks ago, congressional GOP leaders set out to reclaim their party from President Donald Trump and his violent supporters. Trump had frequently emboldened white supremacists and domestic terrorists, but never more visibly than when he recruited and incited those who sacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and then did nothing for hours as they rampaged, hunting for lawmakers, in hopes of overturning the election.

Ignatius: The U.S. is finally catching up to the domestic terrorism threat

It’s often said that soldiers don’t hear the mortar round hurtling toward them until it explodes. For most Americans, that was true with the insurgency that detonated at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. We should have seen it coming: Intelligence reports from local police and the FBI describe a wave of domestic terrorism building through the summer and fall as the United States headed toward the November presidential election. But as is so often the case, law enforcement agencies didn’t take decisive action until too late.

The jury is in: Spy plane is out

From its beginning five years ago, the concept of planes circling Baltimore with video cameras in hopes of helping police solve violent crimes was a dubious undertaking. The best thing that could be said about it was that it was free — a test of technology by backers hoping to make money selling the equipment and expertise to many other cities. And given Baltimore’s level of violent crime, with a nearly one-a-day homicide rate, it was an offer that was almost impossible to refuse even if it seemed constitutionally suspect as an invasion of privacy.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Getting serious in Maryland about transit

Schoolchildren stranded as they wait for a bus to get home from school. Workers constantly risking loss of a job due to lateness as they encounter unreliable transit connections. Persistent reports of buses out of service due to mechanical breakdowns, leading to the unreliable service. These were the heartfelt concerns patrons of the Maryland Transit Administration voiced in a virtual rally held in mid-January in the early days of the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly. The rally garnered a broad coalition of organizations, with over 150 participants.

Rep. Andy Harris will be hard to beat in 2022; Marylanders could be stuck with him for a 7th term

Depending on what happens in the next 18 months, Maryland Republicans will have a choice: Stick with the travesty of Trumpism and support Andy Harris for a seventh term in Congress — a term he once said he would not seek — or back a primary challenger who would be more moderate and less embarrassing to the party and the state. The odds favor Harris.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
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.

Maryland must act on plastic bag reduction

Drive along our roads this winter and you will be astonished by the sheer volume of trash on the side of the road, chief among it is the ubiquitous plastic bag. Because they are so lightweight, they are easily blown around, appearing like ghosts on our trees and polluting our fields and streams and ultimately entering our oceans. As they degrade, they become microplastic, entering the air and the food chain for humans to absorb.

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.

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