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News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly voted Monday morning to pass a bill designed to open medical marijuana growing to minority-owned businesses, and specifically to African-Americans. The bill was the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus’s top priority in Annapolis this year.

John Lee

Reuben Jordan is grabbing a snack before class at the cafe on The Community College of Baltimore County’s Essex campus. Jordan is 34 and has been going to college off and on for ten years, but keeps getting derailed. Twice family members have died just before he was to take final exams. But now Jordan is back and has his sights set on being trained in respiratory care.

 

“I’m just trying to be successful, get my career under way and hopefully on to bigger and better things,” Jordan said.

 

 

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of two school-focused bills. One of these takes oversight of school construction projects away from the Board of Public Works, which Hogan presides over.

Baltimore City Public Schools

Baltimore City school officials are considering moving from their long-time headquarters on North Avenue—the building that once housed Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. But it’s unclear when, or if, that will happen.

Latest Addition to Baltimore's 21st Century Schools

Apr 5, 2018
Jonna McKone

Five years ago a coalition of state and city agencies embarked on an ambitious, $1 billion plan to renovate, replace and combine at least 23 of the most run-down and under-enrolled schools in Baltimore—all by the spring of 2022. Dorothy I. Height Elementary in Reservoir Hill was among two of those new, 21st Century Schools that opened Wednesday.

John Lee

 

 

 

The Baltimore County School Board’s meeting Tuesday night broke out in open warfare, as members grappled with two controversial issues. The board green lighted a $140 million computer contract, and decided to move ahead on a nationwide search for a new school superintendent.  

Dominique Maria Bonessi

About 25 residents gathered at Mount Pleasant Church for the Baltimore City Police Department's consent decree monitoring team's first quarterly community forum Tuesday night. Ironically, that's the same church where the funeral for slain Det. Sean Suiter took place in November. Shantay Guy, one of the monitoring team members and executive director of Baltimore Community Mediation Center, said that was only a coincidence. She wasn't aware the church was the scene of the funeral. 

Revisiting '68: The Fire Last Time'

Apr 4, 2018
AP Photo

In April 2008, 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., WYPR aired a special news series "68: The Fire Last Time." The series examined the local civil rights movement and the response to Dr. King's assassination, the Baltimore City riots, and the aftermath. 

The WYPR news team interviewed some of the most notable public figures of that era: Former Governor Marvin Mandel, Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro, III, Reverend Marion Bascom and Morgan State professor Homer Favor. Residents also gave their account of the turbulent time. 

WYPR revisits this series on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday morning vetoed a bill taking the Board of Public Works out of the school construction approval process.

The Interagency Committee on School Construction, or IAC, makes recommendations to the Board of Public Works on school construction projects. The bill instead makes the IAC independent and gives it final approval of those projects.

Rachel Baye

With less than a week to go before the General Assembly’s 90-day session ends, legislators are racing to pass the bills that remain unsettled. On Tuesday, legislators considered measures dealing with topics such as guns, medical marijuana and net neutrality.

John Lee

There were calls last night to change the way Baltimore County government conducts itself. 

 

On the same night the county council considered changes to the county charter, protesters demanded an audit, as well as more access to lawmakers and transparency.

 

 

Rachel Baye

A bill intended to diversify Maryland’s medical marijuana industry gained initial approval in the state Senate Monday night. The legislation is the state Legislative Black Caucus’s top priority in Annapolis this year.

@MarkRypien/Twitter

Mark Rypien’s first act was one many would kill for.

Rypien was a two-time All Star in the National Football League, playing for 11 seasons and for five different teams.

In 1992, Rypien led the Washington team to a Super Bowl championship and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts.

If Rypien’s football life was a dream, his post-playing career has been a nightmare, marked with depression, anxiety, alleged domestic violence against his wife, and, by his own admission, bad decisions.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Senator Ben Cardin visited what must be one of the safest schools in Maryland Thursday morning to talk with students about gun violence, both in and out of school. The school has security guards, cameras and an electric gate.

Rachel Baye

Former State Sen. Nathaniel Oaks pleaded guilty to two wire fraud charges Thursday morning, two hours after resigning his seat representing West Baltimore. The 71-year-old Democrat had been scheduled to stand trial in about two weeks.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled her $2.8 billion budget for the coming fiscal year yesterday at a meeting of the Board of Estimates. The budget projects maintaining the property tax rate at $2.25 per $100 of assessed value.

Baltimore County

  

  The Baltimore County Council is deciding whether to ask voters to force the county executive to cough up information when council members demand it. It’s part of a proposed change to the county’s charter.

 

Wikimedia Commons

  

It is illegal for a correctional officer to engage in sexual acts with people in their custody, but most law enforcement officials don’t face the same restriction. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would close that loophole.

Flickr/Creative Commons

We’re just a few days away from the launch of a new baseball season.

Across the area, from Woodbine in the west, to Whiteford in the east, from the Hereford zone up north all the way to Harwood in the south, there’s no consensus about how to approach this Orioles campaign.

Melissa Archer, MD Dept. of Housing & Community Development

More than half of the rental units in Baltimore City are one and two-family homes, according to a study by the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. And the owners of those properties aren’t held to the same standards as the owners of multi-family units, which can create problems for the tenants.

Take, for example, the case of Kia Rogers, a single mother of two.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers are considering something billed as the “Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018.” The legislation was developed in large part as a response to the record levels of violent crime in Baltimore last year, and one of its biggest impacts would be tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore’s Shake and Bake Family Fun Center is back after it received a $330,000 face lift.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

State lawmakers are considering a bipartisan package of bills aimed at making public schools better equipped to handle shootings.

On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee considered a bill establishing what the sponsor called a “last line of defense,” should a shooter get inside the building.

John Lee

A Baltimore County Councilman says the county is ignoring its own zoning laws. Councilman Wade Kach is proposing legislation he said would make the county abide by its own rules when building on county-owned property.

The Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is pushing for a state bill that would allow them to create their own police force. But some 2000 JHU students, faculty and staff say they don’t see the need.

Wikimedia Commons

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus has for more than a year been fighting to bring more African American-owned businesses into the state’s fledgling medical marijuana industry. Legislation aimed at doing that has passed the House of Delegates and was considered Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee. But the hearing raised questions about the effects the proposed changes would have on the price of the drug.

Monday was "Cross-over Day" in the General Assembly. By the end of the day bills that have passed in either the House or the Senate stand the best chance of  "crossing over" to the opposite chamber for consideration.

WYPR’s state politics reporter Rachel Baye joins Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to discuss the rush of last minute legislating.

Monday, March 19, was the 69th day of the Maryland General Assembly's annual session. It's what's known in the State House as Cross-over Day. All bills must pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly and "cross-over" to the other to have a decent chance of getting to the governor's desk.

WYPR's state politics reporter, Rachel Baye, joins news director Joel McCord to discuss what will make it and what might not.

@UMBCAthletics/Twitter

There are those who will liken the UMBC men’s basketball team’s weekend in the NCAA tournament to an afternoon thunderstorm on a blistering hot July day. Yes, the atmosphere was shaken up for a brief time, but, in reality, the air goes back to its muggy condition in short order.

And yes, whatever betide you on Friday – cleaning out the garage, doing your taxes, clearing out your sock drawer -- is probably still staring you in the face on Monday.

Rachel Baye

In a largely bipartisan move, the Maryland House of Delegates voted Thursday night to ban bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas shooting last October to make a semi-automatic rifle fire rapidly like an automatic weapon.

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