WYPR News | WYPR

WYPR News

News coverage, series and commentary from WYPR's award winning news staff.
WYPR Election Coverage

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

 

 

Baltimore County’s school board is struggling to find its way as a newly partially elected, partially appointed board. At the same time, it has come under fire for not releasing a long-anticipated audit, rushing through a permanent school superintendent search and micromanaging Baltimore County’s school administration.

 

Rachel Baye

The death Sunday of Michael Busch, Maryland's longest serving Speaker of the House of Delegates, has cast a pall over Maryland’s General Assembly as it rushes toward its adjournment at midnight Monday.

Reports of his death at the age of 72 brought a flood of fond memories from his friends and colleagues in the State House as well as others who have known the former high school teacher and football coach for years.

Rachel Baye

The House of Delegates voted along party lines Friday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill prohibiting oyster harvesting in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries — Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.

Wikimedia Commons

The House passed and the Senate gave initial approval on Wednesday to legislation that would reshape the board of directors at the University of Maryland Medical System and prevent board members from using their positions for personal financial gain. The bills are the result of recent revelations that the hospital awarded its board members — including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh — hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts.  WYPR state politics reporter Rachel Baye discussed the effort with Nathan Sterner.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

The long-anticipated audit into the Baltimore County School System’s procurement practices will be presented to the school board and made public next week. 

 

That is according to school board’s chairwoman.

 

 

John Lee

 

Construction money for schools in Baltimore County is in trouble in the General Assembly.

 

If the legislation doesn’t pass, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said it likely will be years before any new high schools are built in the county.

 

 

Official Photo

Bernard C. “Jack” Young kicked off his first week as acting Baltimore mayor by lobbying the Maryland General Assembly to kill a bill that could direct state funding to Laurel Park.  

 

Young, the city council president who became ex officio mayor when Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave of absence for health reasons, visited with the Baltimore City delegation Thursday morning and fired off letters to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, seeking their help.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate has given preliminary approval to legislation aimed at tamping down on prescription drug costs. But the Senate version is significantly weaker than the version that passed the House last month.

Patrick Semansky/AP

After urging from Governor Larry Hogan and a slew of Baltimore elected officials, Maryland’s Office of the State Prosecutor has opened an investigation into Mayor Catherine Pugh’s "Healthy Holly" book sales.

The governor formally asked for the investigation on Monday, calling the sales "deeply disturbing allegations" in a letter to state prosecutor Emmet Davitt. On Tuesday, Pugh's lawyer confirmed to the Baltimore Sun that the office has opened an investigation.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that aims to reshape the way Maryland approaches public education.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young became acting mayor on Tuesday, after Mayor Catherine E. Pugh stepped down from her role to take an indefinite leave of absence post Healthy Holly scandal fallout.

Pugh's office announced in a statement Monday that she would be taking the leave starting Tuesday, citing the first-term Democrat’s recent pneumonia and making no mention of the scandal.

Lisa Grieco / Annapolis Department of Public Works

Nuisance flooding, that combination of heavy rains and high tides that inundates low lying areas, is an emerging global problem, scientists say. And you can easily see it in Maryland’s capital city where the City Dock area is frequently under water.

Sveinn Storm, who often spends the night in his ice cream shop at the city dock to make sure the pumps get rid of invading rain or sea water, says the problem has gotten much worse since he opened 44 years ago.

John Lee

Teachers say it’s crunch time. 

The General Assembly session ends in less than one week. In two weeks, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski presents his budget to the county council. 

 

Teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Historic Courthouse in Towson Monday night, calling on the state and the county to come through with money for schools.

 

As several dozen people congregated at the courthouse, most wearing red, a sign of support for teachers, they were joined by Olszewski, who is a former teacher.

 

Maryland’s General Assembly heads into the last full week of its 90-day session with a number of issues yet to be resolved, including legislation that would strip trash incinerators of their “green energy” label and  bills to raise the legal smoking age to 21 and to forbid members of the University of Maryland Medical System’s board of directors from doing business with the system.

Gov. Larry Hogan introduced his bill to redraw the state’s Sixth and Eighth Congressional Districts Friday, but the Democratic leaders who drew the original districts don’t appear to be receptive to the Republican governor’s plan.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

From a possible tax increase to new high schools, a lot is in play as Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski prepares to present his first budget to the County Council in about two weeks. 

 

Olszewski is receiving high marks for how he’s handled his first four months in office. But this era of good feeling could be tested once Olszewski lays out his budget.

 

 

Maryland will be the sixth state to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour after the General Assembly voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the legislation. It’s one of two vetoes the General Assembly voted mostly along party lines to override, and a third veto is expected to be overridden Friday.

Wikimedia Commons

The House of Delegates voted Wednesday to reprimand Baltimore County Del. Jay Jalisi after an investigation by the legislature’s Ethics Committee found a pattern of abusive behavior toward General Assembly staff. Jalisi, a Democrat representing the west part of the county, denies the accusations, calling it a “political hit job.”

The Nature Conservancy

On the lower Eastern Shore, just south of Snow Hill, they’re cutting down trees to try to resurrect historical swamps that were drained hundreds of years ago to create farm fields and tree plantations.

Those trees are slowly being replaced by Atlantic White Cedar, a tree that once thrived in the swamp. Draining the swamp led to floods and fires. But replacing the original trees will help restore the swamp, explains Deborah Landau, a conservation ecologist with the Nature Conservancy.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Every day, Darrel Burrell and his team of outreach workers set up a card table near a known drug –dealing site. 

Every day, they hand out about fifty kits containing condoms, Narcan, an antidote for an opioid overdose, and fentanyl test strips.

And every day they teach the people they meet how to check their drugs for the extremely lethal fentanyl, the lead cause by far of opioid overdoses in Maryland, health officials say.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

State health officials expect that when the final numbers are accounted for, more than 2000 Marylanders will have died from opioid overdoses in 2018. And the number one opioid killer is fentanyl.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Public policy on drug use in America focused for years on punishing those addicted. But more recently it’s turned toward what public health experts call “harm reduction.”  By reducing harm from drug use, many experts and public health specialists say, you help an addicted person live another day, a day that may be the start on the path to treatment.

It’s a safe bet that the conflict of interest controversy over the University of Maryland Medical System doing business with members of its board of directors will suck up much of the energy in Annapolis as the General Assembly begins its two week sprint to  adjournment at midnight April 8.

A House of Delegates committee heard testimony Friday on an emergency bill introduced by Speaker Mike Busch aimed at keeping board members from doing business with the medical system. And a Senate committee heard testimony on a similar bill from Baltimore Democrat Jill Carter two weeks ago. Both bills appear to have solid bi-partisan support.

Baltimore County Public Schools

 

 

The Baltimore County Public School System is suspending students at an increasing rate at the same time it is under pressure to reduce those numbers. The school system is in a balancing act of keeping schools safe while looking for alternatives to suspension.

 

 

Baltimore County Public Schools

 

 

The Baltimore County School System is breaking the law when it comes to how it is disciplining its students. That’s according to attorneys who say they are monitoring the school system and offering to help it get into  compliance. 

 

The allegation is that too many students are being suspended and expelled for the wrong reasons.

 

 

Rachel Baye

University of Maryland Medical System leaders met Wednesday afternoon with Gov. Larry Hogan and state Senate President Mike Miller to discuss hundreds of thousands of dollars in business deals between the hospital and its board members.

Board Chairman Stephen Burch said a board meeting Thursday will determine next steps and ways to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Nick Wass / AP

In an effort to "preserve" the Preakness Stakes' Baltimore location, Mayor Catherine Pugh filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Stronach Group to seize the track and prevent moving the race from Pimlico to Laurel.

A 1987 Maryland law prohibits moving the middle jewel of the Triple Crown to a different racecourse. The suit alleges that the Stronach Group, which owns both Pimlico and Laurel, is "openly planning to violate" that law by moving the race to a different racetrack "despite the absence of any disaster or emergency, except for the disaster that they are in the process of creating."

Making the Beer Cold in Baltimore

Mar 20, 2019
Tom Flynn

Baltimore has long been a city that loved its beer, from the time John Leonard Barnitz opened the first commercial brewery in the city in 1748 through the heady days of National Bohemian Beer (…brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay!).

But national and international firms bought out the locals and moved them elsewhere. Now, however, brewing beer in Baltimore has become a bit of a trend, starting with Hugh Sisson and his Heavy Seas brand in 1989 through what Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Brewers Association of Maryland, calls an explosion of brewers.

Rachel Baye

Monday was Crossover Day in the State House. Any legislation that had not passed in either the House or the Senate and crossed over to the other chamber by the end of the day faces a tougher road to becoming law. WYPR’s State Politics Reporter Rachel Baye talks with Nathan Sterner about some of the things that made the cut and some that did not.

Wikimedia Commons/Flickr

Legislation requiring Maryland to get half of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 gained initial approval in the state Senate on Tuesday. The most recent version of the bill would no longer allow trash incineration to be considered a clean energy source.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan took aim on Monday at the job legislators are doing, focusing in particular on efforts to raise the minimum wage and to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on schools.

Pages