Politics

  • Hogan wades into Maryland's long battle against heroin

    With the creation of two panels devoted to combating heroin use, Gov. Larry Hogan has waded into a worsening crisis — one that has defied solutions for decades. It once looked as if Maryland had brought some measure of control to its long-standing battle against the drug, driving down fatal overdose rates for years. In Baltimore, for example, overdose deaths plunged from more than 300 in 1999 to around 100 in 2010. Then came a collective relapse. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

  • Lawmakers weigh pension shift to free up funds

    The General Assembly's budget committees are weighing a proposal to cut payments to the state employee pension system, a move that would free up as much as $60 million that Democratic lawmakers would like to redirect to education and other programs. But Gov. Larry Hogan opposes the proposal. And Comptroller Peter Franchot calls it "a bad, bad, bad idea." (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • O’Malley serves notice to Wall Street ahead of possible presidential bid

    Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signaled Saturday that Wall Street regulation would be a major issue in his potential presidential bid, urging Democrats to fight for their principles on that and other defining issues. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

  • MD Congressman Andy Harris: Showdown Far From Over In Homeland Security Funding Fight

    Maryland Congressman Andy Harris thinks the Homeland Security funding dispute is only the first of many big fights to come on Capitol Hill. Harris, a Republican, blames the President and the Senate's top Democrat for much of the political strife. "The problem is this is how we're going to define what the next two years are going to look like," Harris told the Jimmy Mathis show Saturday on WBAL Newsradio 1090.  "it's going to be ugly for the next two years if the President and Harry Reid refuse to let the Senate do its work with the House." (WBAL) Read Full Article

Center Maryland

  • Rod Easter -- Easter LSF: Exelon's Positive Impact on Baltimore City

    Rod Easter, president of Easter LSF and former president of the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council, visits Center Maryland to discuss union support for the Exelon-Pepco merger. Rod also talks about the positive impact that Exelon has had on the Baltimore region by creating jobs, improving corporate culture and investing in clean energy.Watch Full Video

  • Donald Fry: New study: there’s opportunity in middle-skill jobs

    Almost 36,000 new job hires for key middle-skill occupations are expected in the Baltimore region by 2020, according to a new study projecting that emerging middle-skill jobs, coupled with effective workforce training strategies, could take a significant bite out of the region’s current unemployment level. Read Full Article

  • Laslo Boyd: Larry Hogan and Scott Walker

    Wisconsin Governor and 2016 Presidential Candidate Scott Walker has attracted national attention for his highly critical stance towards the University of Wisconsin.   A public institution that has been widely regarded for decades as a national model is being used by Walker as a punching bag to appeal to anti-intellectuals, small government advocates, and the “slash the state budget regardless of the consequences” crowd. Read Full Article

  • Mileah Kromer: The Way It Always Was and Other Resident Reflections on Letting Summer Be Summer

    Last fall, the Goucher Poll found that 71% of Maryland residents supported an after-Labor Day start date for Maryland schools. Our new poll shows Marylanders have not changed their opinions on the proposition-turned-introduced-legislation (SB 455), colloquially known as “Let Summer Be Summer”—72% of residents say they support Comptroller Peter Franchot’s push for the post-Labor Day start. The results of our last two surveys provide an indication of what Marylanders think, but our most recent survey also sheds light on why they think it.Read Full Article

Business

  • Hogan, business groups favor small business property tax break

    Part of Gov. Larry Hogan’s promise to make Maryland “open for business” is a bill exempting many small businesses from the personal property tax collected by the counties. The exemption would be given to businesses with less than a $10,000 property value, on items such as equipment, furniture, computers, tools and inventory. It applies to more than half of Maryland’s small businesses and will result in an estimated $7 million in tax relief. (Md. Reporter) Read Full Article

  • Prince George’s Baker focused on economic development

    Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III wants to fix his jurisdiction’s reputation as a bastion of corruption that frightens away potential business development. Baker, a Democrat, who was elected to a second term last year, portrays himself as a reformer trying to fix the mess left by his predecessors, who include Jack B. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to a single count of tampering in June 2011 after taking money from developers to help them land federal contracts. (Daily Record) Read Full Article

  • MGM officials: Casino construction is on track for anticipated 2016 opening

    Last week’s frigid conditions didn’t stop about 100 workers from drilling on icy ground, removing dirt and pouring concrete on what will be the first of seven parking levels of Maryland’s newest gaming resort. (Wash. Post)Read Full Article

  • In Maryland, economic angst breaks through the veneer of a wealthy state

    To understand the economic angst that helped elect a Republican governor in heavily Democratic Maryland, venture beyond the tony, millionaire-saturated suburbs to the working-class neighborhoods and rural towns where many people are struggling. This is the Maryland that propelled Larry Hogan, a wealthy businessman who had never held elected office, into the governor’s mansion. It is a place where a Gaithersburg retiree has no idea how to pay for repairs after a pipe burst in his basement last week. Where a Baltimore woman whose last job paid $11 an hour grapples with long-ago college loans. And where a 39-year-old tile setter who can’t find enough work lives with his wife and daughter in his parents’ basement. (Wash. Post)Read Full Article

Education

  • New standardized test makes special features standard

    Students in Carroll County Public Schools are preparing for a new standardized test this spring and for the first time, all students will have potential access to the types of accommodations, such as having the test read out loud or frequent breaks, that were previously only available to special education students. The new test — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — is designed to assess schools' progress in the national Common Core standards for math and reading, according to Gregg Bricca, director of research and accountability for Carroll County Public Schools. (Carr. Co. Times) Read Full Article

  • The snow conundrum: How a school system decides whether to open

    Todd Watkins had been following the snow forecasts closely. By the time he climbed out of bed in the darkness of 2 a.m., he didn’t think a storm would wallop the Washington region. But he thought it was possible that Montgomery’s schools would open after a delay. How possible, he didn’t know. By 3 a.m. Thursday, Watkins was driving his Ford pickup toward the nerve center of the county’s snow decision-making operation, inside a modest office at a bus depot just off Shady Grove Road in Derwood, Md. He saw not a snowflake. Thus began a morning of analysis, networking, gut checks and guesswork that ended unpredictably and revealed some of the complexity of snow-day calculations, results that often draw public criticism, praise and debate. (Wash. Post)Read Full Article...

  • Baltimore-Area Teen Speaks Out On Behalf Of Muslim Community

    Amara Majeed founded a website called “The Hijab Project,” aimed at combating discrimination against Muslim girls and women who wear head-scarves in public. She self-published a book of short biographies of 17 peace-loving, law-abiding Muslims from around the world. She provides online commentary for CNN and, starting earlier this month, for the Huffington Post. It’s worth noting that Amara is 17 years old and is still in high school. What will she accomplish when she’s 18? “I want to transform myself into an idea,” Amara, a senior at Towson High School said during a post-school chat in the bookstore that has become a second home for her. (CBS-AP) Read Full Article

  • Lego League championship draws 700 children statewide

    If Garrett County teacher Chuck Trautwein is right in saying children who don't develop spatial thinking skills by age 8 likely won't pick them up later, the 700 students competing in the FIRST Lego League state championship on Saturday at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are ahead of the game. Many of the 9- to 14-year-olds who made up more than 70 teams competing in the Lego robotics competition have been dabbling with the plastic, boxy building blocks since before they started school. Teachers and parents say the kids' creativity fuels a passion for problem solving, and, by the time they're 8, they're on their way to grasping science, technology, engineering and math concepts. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Around Maryland

  • Md. National Guard leadership takes historic turn

    Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh took command of the Maryland National Guard on Saturday, the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position, saying, "This is absolutely the best job I could hope for in the military and the best state in which to do it." With some 250 uniformed troops in formation before her and hundreds of guests seated on both sides of the podium at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore, Singh, a 50-year-old combat veteran of Kosovo and Afghanistan, said, "When I think of the journey we have ahead, it's going to be tough, it's going to be challenging." (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Baltimore Police fight release of secret pay audit

    The Baltimore Police Department is fighting the release of a secret audit that found a number of officers had misrepresented their educational credentials and wrongly received pay benefits as a result, new court filings show. The audit was performed in April 2014 after an anonymous tip to Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts revealed that a high-ranking commander had used a bogus degree from a diploma mill to earn a pay bonus. The commander, Lt. Col. Clifton McWhite, resigned and was later criminally charged with theft. Since last year, police officials have declined to respond to questions from The Baltimore Sun about such a review, and would not confirm its existence. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Batts elaborates on comments that Baltimore suffers from '1950s racism'

    In an interview for C-SPAN, Baltimore Commissioner Anthony W. Batts elaborated on comments made a week earlier that he believes the city suffers from "1950s racism" and is more divided than other cities where he has worked. Batts first brought up the issue when speaking in Phoenix before a White House task force studying policing. He brings up the idea again in the C-SPAN interview, where he is interviewed for an hour and touches on a number of topics - including acknowledging that he finally gave in and watched Season 1 of "The Wire." (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Concerns about air traffic safety are heightened in developing College Park

    Construction of tall buildings is encroaching on the airspace of historic College Park Airport, forcing pilots to adjust landing and takeoff strategies and raising concerns among some in this Maryland community that continued development could threaten the viability of a small airpark that was used by the Wright brothers and is home to many aviation firsts. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

Commentary

  • Mr. Hogan fills in the blanks

    Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican whose campaign last fall not surprisingly railed against the policies of the incumbent Democratic governor, Martin O’Malley, thus far seems more inclined to tweak than trash those policies. That’s probably a good thing. (Wash. Post)Read Full Article

  • Hogan's school reform has potential - and pitfalls

    There's a lot of good in Gov. Larry Hogan's proposal to reform Maryland's charter school law. It provides additional flexibility for charters to pursue innovative academic models, allows the possibility that the schools could be established in districts that have not welcomed them and contains mechanisms to better target charters toward disadvantaged students. But it could also bleed funding from traditional schools, and some of its provisions could play out unfairly for current charter teachers. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • A matter of trust

    At an emotional meeting this week, members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners found themselves struggling to explain their recent initiative to allow the city's School Police Force, which is separate from the Baltimore City Police Department, to carry weapons inside school buildings as well as on the grounds outside. But despite all the uproar, guns aren't really the issue. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

  • Eliminate redundant laws, regs

    Gov. Larry Hogan and lawmakers looking for ways to reduce government spending should consider eliminating redundancies that sap local governments of limited resources and reject any new laws that would add unnecessary burdens. A prime example is the debate over the stormwater management fee, the so-called "rain tax" that Hogan wants to repeal and some of the alternatives that are being offered up. Nine of the state's largest counties and the City of Baltimore were required to implement the stormwater management tax under Gov. Martin O'Malley. Carroll, however, was able to negotiate an agreement with the state not to impose the tax, saying the projects were already being paid for. (Carr. Co. Times) Read Full Article