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Winter Weather, MD’s Minimum Wage, ecoATMs, School Bus Cameras, and A Natural Gas Pipeline

Nathan Sterner

Snow’s forecast for Central Maryland; a Winter Weather Advisory takes effect this evening. Plus, a commentary from WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith on MD’s minimum wage. Also: ecoATMs removed from some malls, school bus cameras, and questions over a natural gas pipeline.Winter Weather In The Forecast: Snow and bitter cold are likely headed for central Maryland. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 6pm Thursday through 3am Friday. Rain and snow will likely develop this afternoon, and snow will continue tonight. The NWS says between 2 and 4 inches of snow could accumulate by tomorrow morning in the Greater Baltimore area, with lower accumulations in the south and higher ones in the north. And once the snow’s done, it’ll be windy and cold; tomorrow will see high temperatures in the 20s with winds gusting up to 35mph. The forecast may have changed since this post, at 7:42am Thursday; for the latest forecast, please check in with the National Weather Service or your preferred forecaster.

Minimum Wage Law Would Put Inequality On Agenda: Maryland’s claim to be America in miniature could include its status as one of the states with a high level of income inequality. That’s the word from WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith; he comments in his weekly essay.

Questions Raised Over Impact Of Natural Gas Pipeline: Environmentalists are asking federal authorities to reconsider a natural gas pipeline extension approved to run between Baltimore County and Howard County. The $180-million 21-mile project, to be operated by Columbia Gas Transmission, could begin construction early this year. The pipeline cuts across 39 streams that feed into Loch Raven Reservoir… and its opponents worry that it could impact the state’s drinking water system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has already signed off on the project, but it still needs additional approvals from state and federal regulators. The Baltimore Sun reports that activists are calling on FERC to reconsider its approval. Columbia Gas Transmission says the project was designed to "minimize environmental impact".

EcoATMs Removed From Some MD Malls: The controversial kiosks where people can turn in old cell phones for cash are being removed from several malls around Maryland. The so-called “reverse vending machines,” made by San Diego-based ecoATM, are being pulled out of malls run by General Growth Properties – including the Towson Town Center, the White Marsh Mall, and the Owings Mills Mall. Critics of the ecoATM kiosks say they may encourage the theft of smartphones, although ecoATM says such allegations are unfounded. Even so, the Baltimore City Council voted to ban the machines in the city last year, and members of the Baltimore County Council are considering similar legislation. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.

Cameras On Montgomery County School Buses: Most Maryland schools are back in session today. And in Montgomery County, police will be cracking down on motorists who pass school buses while they stop to pick up kids. The County has installed automated cameras on several buses, that’ll snap pictures of vehicles passing them illegally. Drivers of those vehicles will face fines of $125. Montgomery County Police say they’ll expand the program in the coming months, with an increasing focus on the bus routes that see the most violations. There’s more here from WTOP.