March 22 // Pat Murray: The Hogan-Zirkin shotgun wedding on the fracking ban

It should have been a spectacular moment of political theater: A popular Republican governor linking arms with a powerful Democratic lawmaker to announce a partnership on an issue that divides their constituents. But the staging was rushed and the actors were sullen, leaving the audience to feel as though it was watching something unseemly and political, instead of the announcement of a meaningful alliance. Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) office put the word out midday Friday that he would make a major policy announcement that afternoon. The timing raised eyebrows because Friday is widely acknowledged as a lousy time to make news. (marylandmattersblog)

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The Trump administration’s attack on the Chesapeake Bay

The Trump administration’s mindless attempt to scrap federal funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is a stroll down memory-impaired lane. Heedless of recent history, the administration’s proposed budget would, at a swipe, reopen the door to the degradation of the United States’ largest estuary and reverse important recent progress in restoring the water, fish, oysters, crabs and tourism that make the bay so vibrant. It was just six years ago that a third of the bay, from Baltimore to the Potomac River, was beset by a sprawling springtime “dead zone” of oxygen-starved water — the result of marine-life-killing nutrients from fertilizer and other chemical runoff. (Wash. Post)

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Pugh should veto $15 an hour minimum wage

The City Council's decision to pass legislation that sets Baltimore on the course toward a $15 an hour minimum wage puts Mayor Catherine Pugh in a tough spot. The city's new chief executive was elected on a promise to be the mayor for everyone "from the streets to the suites," but now she is being pulled in opposite directions by both constituencies. Organized labor and advocates for the working poor are urging her to sign the bill; the Greater Baltimore Committee and other business interests are pressing her to veto it. (Balt. Sun)

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Alison Prost: Maryland should put actual conservation back in the Forest Conservation Act

University of Delaware entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, finds it curious that the American news media lament the loss of tropical forests yet “have remained silent” about the destruction of local forests. In the past eight years, developers have cut down 14,480 acres of forest in Maryland without replacement, according to records kept by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Every day in Maryland, a forest area the size of four football fields is cut down to make way for new subdivisions, strip malls and other development. (Wash. Post)

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County doing well as a place to find jobs

Good economic news, like good news in general, has many fathers (and mothers). So County Executive Steve Schuh, who has long stressed making his jurisdiction a great place to work and start a business, naturally took care to get his paternity claim on the record when recently released state numbers showed Anne Arundel hitting a record job count in the third quarter of 2016. "Our tax and regulatory reforms continue to help create jobs and prosperity in our county," Schuh said in a written statement. "As we put together our next budget, we remain committed to enacting policies that will build upon this progress." (Capital)

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Richard J. Douglas: It’s great to be a gangster in Maryland!

Open borders. Marijuana. Relaxed rules on bail, lifer parole, and criminal sentencing. Anti-police legislators. It’s great to be a gangster in Maryland! Aspirations to make Maryland a sanctuary for undocumented migrants are getting rave reviews from the “maras” and the transnational human trafficking cartels which smuggle men, women, and children into our state. The chief architect of nationwide immigration chaos — Congress — lolls on the sidelines while the White House, State House  and county executives toil over the wreckage. (Md. Reporter)

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E.R. Shipp: Harriet Tubman's lessons for today

I wonder what Harriet Tubman would make of all the fuss being made about her. First came news last year that her face will grace the next generation of $20 bills. Then a couple of weekends ago, we witnessed the grand opening of the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in a state park named for her and the launch of a 125-mile drive-through-history byway — all created in the Eastern Shore, where she was born into slavery, escaped and returned numerous times to lead others to freedom. (Balt. Sun)

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March 21 // Suzanne Quintero: Medical cannabis delays hurt patients

It has now been four years since Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation to establish the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission in Maryland. It has been, without question, the slowest rollout of a medical cannabis program by any of the 26 states that have legalized medical cannabis. Since it was established and voted on by the General Assembly, the commission has overseen a lengthy, independent process to award pre-approval to pursue licenses to growers, processors and dispensaries. During this time, numerous public meetings were held, input was provided by legislators and the attorney general's office, and Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute was enlisted to evaluate applicants through a double-blind process. (Balt. Sun)

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