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Death Penalty Repeal, Marijuana Legislation, Baltimore's Population Grows, and The Region Reacts To The Selection Of Pope Francis
March 14, 2013
The Archdiocese of Baltimore says that Catholics around the region and people around the world are "thrilled" with new Pope Francis. Archbishop William Lori will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the election of the new Pope, this Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore (via our wire service; more reactions are here and here from the Baltimore Sun, more here from the Gazette, and more here from the Frederick News Post).
Governor Martin O'Malley's bill to repeal Maryland's death penalty has received preliminary approval from the House of Delegates. During yesterday's debate, the bill's supporters beat back 18 amendments that would have preserved capital punishment in certain cases. The legislation replaces Maryland's death penalty with life in prison with no possibility of parole for the most serious crimes. And after getting its initial backing from the House yesterday, a final vote is expected tomorrow. The State Senate has already approved the measure (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post).
The death penalty repeal bill is one of Governor O'Malley's many legislative priorities for this year's General Assembly session. And WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith says the Governor appears poised for a "spectacular success" this year. Fraser comments in his weekly essay.
The State Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would turn possession of small quantities of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil one. The bill would make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana punishible by a fine of no more than 100 dollars. Currently, that offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail (via the Daily Record; more here from the Washington Post).
Baltimore City is getting bigger, population-wise. The US Census bureau said that the city gained more than 11-hundred residents over the last 12 months. Baltimore has been losing population for the last 60 years (via the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore City is losing $1.6-million for agencies that provide care to HIV/AIDS patients as a result of the sequestration spending cuts (via our wire service, the North Baltimore Patch, and the Baltimore Business Journal). Meanwhile, the Frederick County's Department of Aging is waiting to find out whether sequestration will affect its "Meals on Wheels" program, which gives weekday meals to some 125 homebound senior citizens in the County. Statewide, some $877-thousand in federal funds used to provide meals to homebound seniors could disappear (via the Frederick News Post).
Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder were in Rockville yesterday to announce a new grant program aimed at reducing domestic violence. The nationwide program is modeled on Maryland's successful effort to reduce domestic violence homicides, credited with a 34% reduction in domestic violence deaths over the last five years (via the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post).
Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold will be sentenced today, after being found guilty of two counts of misconduct in office earlier this year (via the Baltimore Sun).
The only elephant born at the Maryland Zoo in the facility's 137 year history has been stricken with a potentially-deadly virus. Zoologists say Samson the elephant has improved and they are hopeful that he will be able to recover (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
There's a new slogan for this year's Grand Prix of Baltimore. Organizers say race will now be called a "Celebration of Acceleration." This year's street racing festival runs August 30th through September 1st (via our wire service and the Baltimore Business Journal).
Marylanders had a chance to see the International Space Station this morning. If you missed it, you'll have two more opportunities in the near future: one Saturday morning, the next Sunday morning (via the Baltimore Sun).
And in sports: The Orioles scored six times in the top of the ninth to rally past the Minnesota Twins, 9-4. Spring training continues this afternon, with the O's going up against the Tampa Bay Rays.
IN FOCUS TODAY
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