Maryland says it needs decision in entire Purple Line lawsuit before it can appeal ruling that would add more delays

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office says the state needs a speedy decision in all aspects of a lawsuit opposing the light-rail Purple Line project before it can appeal a recent ruling that could add months of more delay, according to a court brief filed Thursday. The state’s lawyers also reiterated that the Maryland Department of Transportation plans to suspend pre-construction work — surveying, soil borings and design — on the project June 1 and potentially cancel it completely by early August if the lawsuit continues to linger. The state made the legal arguments Thursday as part of asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue a “writ of mandamus” requiring the federal judge handling the case to decide the entire lawsuit by a certain date. (Wash. Post)

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Baltimore County passes $3.5B budget package that holds tax rates steady

The Baltimore County Council approved the county government's $3.5 billion budget on Thursday, but the vote exposed a rare rift among council members. Councilman Wade Kach voted against the budget after criticizing portions of the package and county policies. He cited what he described as the poor state of Dulaney and Towson high schools, declining SAT scores, spending on student laptops and staffing concerns at the county's jail and 911 center. "Budgets are all about priorities," the Cockeysville Republican said. "As well as priorities, we need to look at the tax burden that's placed on our Baltimore County residents." (Balt. Sun)

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Commissioners unanimously approve FY18 budget, call it 'smoothest' process in recent years

Voting for Carroll County's fiscal year 2018 budget was so easy this year, even the most conservative commissioner could do it. Thursday marked the first time in five years Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, joined with the other four commissioners to unanimously approve the county's spending plan for the next year. "Overall I'm pleased with this budget," Rothschild said. The FY18 operating budget — which includes $186.9 million for Carroll County Public Schools, a $5 million increase over the current fiscal year, and money for new county staff positions and increased length of service benefits for emergency responders — totals $400 million. That's a $11.6 million, or 3 percent, increase over FY17. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Annapolis police want $150K for more overtime

The Annapolis Police Department has requested an additional $150,000 for overtime in the year ahead. This increase still won't be enough to fund the department's overtime expenditures, which hit about $1.2 million a year annually, said Maj. Scott Baker, acting chief. There is $760,000 currently proposed for overtime in the fiscal year that starts July 1. These costs cover officers working big events, like the Military Bowl, as well as officers that have to work past scheduled shifts due to an incident or other overtime needs. The department is working to reduce overtime expenses, but this money is still needed, Baker said. (Capital)

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Maryland beaches rated healthy nearly 99 percent of the time in 2016

Pollution and bacteria prompted Maryland health officials to warn beachgoers of health hazards about 200 times last year, among the fewest in more than a decade. The state's 185 public beaches were open without any health advisories 98.9 percent of the time in 2016, according to the Maryland Healthy Beaches report. It was a fifth-straight year that figure exceeded 98 percent. That matched previous high marks in 2014 and 2012. As many as 700 or 800 advisories were issued in past years, like 2006, 2007 and 2010. No health advisories have ever been issued for Ocean City beaches since the current monitoring program launched in 2000. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland officials push for boat safety after 17 deaths in 2016

Maryland law enforcement and state officials urged seafarers to take better precautions while boating in light of 17 people dying last year in boat-related accidents. At Sandy Point State Park on Thursday, Maryland Natural Resources Police Col. Robert "Ken" Ziegler Jr. urged those who are set to go out on the water as temperatures rise to wear proper life vests and to not operate a vessel while drinking or doing drugs. "It would be pretty easy to overlook this year's statistics and feel pretty good about where we are. Right now we've had one death, unfortunately (and) one's too many," Ziegler said. (Balt. Sun)

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Safe places to use drugs would save $6M in costs associated with opioid epidemic, study finds

If drug users were allowed to use in a safe place it would save $6 million a year in costs associated with the opioid epidemic, according to a new cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and others. The findings were published in this month's Harm Reduction Journal. Safe consumption spaces are areas where people can use illicit drugs in a place carefully monitored by medical staff who can also treat overdoses. Proponents say it keeps users from using in dangerous places such as abandoned buildings or on street corners. (Balt. Sun)

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Inner Harbor carousel packs up its wooden horses

The children’s classic carousel, a fixture of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for 36 years, has vanished, the victim of poor location and changing patterns of tourism and entertainment. Charm City Carousel Entertainment, which installed the latest animal menagerie merry-go-round, removed the structure earlier this month, leaving an empty wood-chipped circle where rain was pooling this morning. Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership, confirmed that the attraction was unable to lure enough customers to survive. She said its location, sandwiched between the Maryland Science Center and Rash Field on the harbor’s under-utilized south side, has always been a drawback. (Brew)

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