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Commentary

Maryland needs the American Rescue Plan

The last year has been an extraordinarily challenging time for our state. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout have wreaked devastating tolls on our families, businesses and local governments. But, as always, Maryland has risen to the moment: Marylanders from east to west have stepped up in this time of crisis, and, as those fortunate to serve this extraordinary state, we have an obligation to do the same. That’s why Maryland Democrats at the state and national level have taken decisive steps to stem the pandemic and provide aid directly to those in need.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Not every student is Christian. So why don’t all school districts recognize that?

Go ahead, Easter and Christmas — be the religious holidays that dominate the candy aisles. But when it comes to the school calendar and what we consider official holidays? Time for Santa and the Bunny to step aside and let the holidays that other Americans celebrate have a chance. This is what the Fairfax County School Board has been wrestling with in a drawn-out, contorted debate about whether to expand the holiday calendar to add Jewish and Muslim holidays, something school districts across the nation already have done.

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Want to fund education reform? Close Maryland’s corporate tax loopholes

Texas is nobody’s progressive state. Neither are Montana and North Dakota. But here’s something those states have in common: They hold large corporations accountable for paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, that’s kind of a trend. In all, 28 states and the District of Columbia have passed a rule known as “combined reporting” that treats big companies with one or more subsidiaries as a single unit for tax purposes. If that sounds rather dull and dry, that might be the point. Average people don’t follow corporate accounting practices. But here’s why everyone should care: Without combined reporting, companies can hide their profits by shifting them around subsidiaries like a game of Three-Card Monte.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Kalman Hettleman: Will the General Assembly Be Able to Hold MSDE More Accountable?

As Elizabeth Shwe reported last week in Maryland Matters, an emergency bill introduced by Senate President Bill Ferguson requires a consultant study of the capacity of the Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Higher Education Commission, the Maryland Department of Labor and other state agencies to carry out the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The bill is a commendable step forward. President Ferguson has long been an outspoken critic of the management failures of MSDE, and House leaders share his frustration. And yet, the bill is unlikely to bring much near-term, much less emergency, relief at this unique moment when MSDE’s weak capacity and lack of transparency endanger COVID-19 school recovery and getting the Blueprint off to a strong start.

Free Baltimore drivers from tyranny of territorial rating

Last year, the Consumer Federation of America reviewed Baltimore area car insurance rates and found this disturbing phenomenon: If you lived south of Cross Country Boulevard in Baltimore, you paid premiums for basic coverage that, on average, were 36% higher than the equivalent driver living to the north. Here was another way to look at it: Drivers who live in the city ZIP code of 21215 pay about $620 more a year for government-mandated car insurance coverage than drivers living in 21209, which is mostly in the county. That’s problematic for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that this disparity is helping drive people away from the city. But here’s something else people should realize about the two ZIP codes, the city-based one where drivers pay more, is 79% African-American, while the other is mostly white.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Here’s why Maryland should care about Texas COVID-19 restrictions (or lack thereof)

Now, we all know how frustrated parents of willful children feel. They teach their kids. They model good behavior and make personal sacrifices on behalf of their families. They reinforce key life experiences whenever they can. And then, when it’s time to test that knowledge, to judge whether vital, even lifesaving, lessons have been learned, they discover that it was all for naught. They failed, not because of a lack of capacity to learn on the part of their children, but out of their offspring’s sheer obstinacy and hubris. Somewhere, the parents of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are surely weeping.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
covid-19 vaccine stock photo ig: @hakannural
McDaniels: Maryland is failing at COVID vaccine racial equity

I won’t mince words: The state is failing its most vulnerable residents when it comes to protecting them from COVID-19 and foundering in its duty to ensure equitable treatment during a public health crisis. I have read all the challenges and even written about them myself. Distrust of the vaccine and the medical system in general. Obstacles to signing up for vaccine appointments and getting to them, as well. Jobs that make certain people more vulnerable to contracting the virus. Underlying health conditions that make virus exposure more dangerous. A health system that has historically practiced in inequitable treatment.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Editorial: Upgrade Maryland’s climate action plan

Polls show most Maryland residents recognize that climate change is a man-made disaster in the making. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has certainly acknowledged that. And so have the Democrats running the General Assembly. Yet there’s clearly been some backsliding in the effort to reverse it. A decade ago, Maryland was viewed as a leader in the nation’s war on climate change. Today, it’s more like a decent, well-meaning, middle-of-the-pack ally.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Collins: County Election Bill Could Dilute the Power of Minority Voters

House Bill 655, which deals with voting districts in county elections, is not a panacea for Charles County. The bill may have the unintended consequence of diluting the power of the community’s minority vote. In the 1990s, I served as chief counsel for the Charles County NAACP. Voter suppression and maximizing the Black community’s voting power became a priority for the chapter. Those efforts intensified after the 1998 and 2002 countywide elections.

Rodricks: Opportunity Zones might be good for investors, but what about West Baltimore?

Ben Carson, the former Johns Hopkins-based neurosurgeon who served as housing secretary in the Trump administration, showed up recently on Larry Kudlow’s new show on the Fox Business Network. During his appearance, Carson asserted, without the slightest pushback from Kudlow, that the Trump administration had ushered in “highly effective Opportunity Zones” to bring investment to distressed neighborhoods across the country.

Read More: Baltimore Sun

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