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WYPR Election Coverage

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski got blowback from members of the County Council Tuesday over his proposal for an election fund for candidates, paid for by taxpayers.

Council members questioned its cost and the details.

 

 

Rachel Baye

Thousands of teachers, parents and students marched in Annapolis Monday night, seeking more funding for public schools. The march, which was organized by the Maryland State Education Association teachers union, culminated in the largest rally at the State House in recent memory. 

Organizers say 200 buses carried teachers from across the state, as far as Garrett County in Western Maryland, about three hours away. They estimate that there were about 8,500 people filling the streets, many of them wearing red beanies and carrying red cowbells and signs.

Baltimore County

 

 

When Larry Hogan ran for governor the first time in 2014, he financed it by tapping a state public campaign fund. 

 

The Baltimore County Council Tuesday will consider a similar fund for county candidates. It will also debate whether to establish an Office of Ethics and Accountability.

 

 

Much like last week, the bulk of the action in Annapolis remains on the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis.

Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day—March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration. In fact, Senate President Mike Miller has suggested he might schedule two floor sessions a day in order to get bills through.

But that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening in the committees. Legislative leaders have scheduled hearings on bills involving medical marijuana, sports betting, voter registration and abortion, among other issues.

At the Mouth of the Bay, a City Seeks Resilience

Mar 11, 2019
Pamela D'Angelo

Newmarket Creek flows from Newport News, Va., through nearby Hampton where nuisance flooding caused by rising tides and sinking lands has created problems for more than one homeowner.

Since 2008, the city of Hampton has been looking at ways to live with water. City officials recently brought experts together for a week-long workshop and a community meeting at the Hampton Coliseum to look at innovative ways individuals, neighborhoods and the city can manage flood risk during storms and adapt to become more resilient to rising waters and sinking lands.

Twenty-four years ago, a judge ordered fundamental changes to the way Baltimore City Public Schools are managed and funded. The ruling, the result of a 1994 lawsuit, led to Maryland’s current public school funding formula.

Then over the next decade, the court issued more opinions, saying that Baltimore students continued to be shortchanged.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a motion in Baltimore City Circuit Court to reopen that 1994 lawsuit. In the filing, they accuse Maryland of violating the state constitution by underfunding Baltimore City schools.

Rachel Baye

Anne Rowe was diagnosed in 2001 with Von Willebrand disease. It’s a genetic bleeding disorder, meaning her blood doesn’t clot well. The Prince George’s County resident told the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday afternoon that, fortunately, there is a treatment.

“For us to be treated prophylactically only, it could cost us $288,000 annually with no insurance or medications,” she said.

Wikimedia Commons

  

The state Senate voted Tuesday to ban the sale of foam food and beverage containers. If the measure passes the House, Maryland would be the first state to pass a statewide ban on the products.

The ban covers expanded polystyrene cups, plates, takeout containers and egg cartons.

Rachel Baye

Legislators in Annapolis will have their first chance to weigh in on recommendations by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — better known as the "Kirwan Commission" — which is studying ways to improve K-12 education in Maryland. A bill reflecting many of those recommendations is to go before a Senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

John Lee

When you first see Perry Hall Mansion, you notice something odd. Sean Kief, who is on the board of Historic Perry Hall Mansion, points it out.

 

“You’re looking at basically half a house,” Kief said.

 

More than 200 years after the founding of a new American church within its halls, the bare bones of the Baltimore County mansion remains. 

 

But there are questions about its future

 

 

Much of the action in Annapolis this week moves to the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis. Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day--March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration.

In addition, legislative leaders are trying to get some of the more controversial bills, like the minimum wage increase, to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk in time for a potential veto override vote before March 29. That’s the date Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat and Naval Reserve officer, leaves to deploy to Afghanistan.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland House of Delegates voted Friday to gradually increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 2025.

The vote came down largely along party lines, with two Baltimore County Democrats opposing the bill.

Brian Witte/AP

The House of Delegates voted Thursday to censure Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, whose district is in Harford County, for her use of the n-word. The Democrat was heard using the slur to describe a district in Prince George’s County during an event at a cigar bar in Annapolis in January.

Rachel Baye

Calls for state Del. Mary Ann Lisanti to resign are growing after it was revealed this week that she used a racial slur to refer to residents of Prince George’s County. The Democrat from Harford County has already been stripped of her leadership position, but the state Legislative Black Caucus and other groups say that’s not enough.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Republican Governor Larry Hogan has asked the General Assembly to approve a plan to spend nearly $2 billion in additional school construction money statewide over the next four years. 

 

And Baltimore County’s Executive, Democrat Johnny Olszewski, agrees. 

 

Olszewski painted a dire picture before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Wednesday of what might happen without the money.

 

 

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is remaining mum about whether he will call for tax hikes to deal with a projected $81 million shortfall. But others in county government are making the case that now may be the time to do so.

 

Let’s start with the county’s income tax rate.

 

Currently it’s at just over 2.8 percent. A report by the county council’s spending affordability committee lays out the possibility of raising that to 3.2 percent, which is the highest allowed under state law.

 

Rachel Baye

During government shutdowns like the one that ended last month, federal employees who are considered “essential” and have to report to work without pay are not eligible for federal unemployment benefits. So Maryland lawmakers have devised a way to provide some help during the next shutdown.

Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of gun-rights advocates testified in Annapolis on Monday on a bill that would ban 3-D printed and other homemade guns that lack serial numbers, what are sometimes referred to as “ghost guns” because they are harder to trace.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Baltimore’s Acting Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison, has been making the rounds, meeting face to face with residents and elected officials at community forums in all nine police districts.

Maryland’s General Assembly steamed past the halfway point in its 90-day session last week and things are starting to get serious in Annapolis. This week, one committee takes up Maryland’s own version of the Affordable Care Act.

Others will take up bills to tighten some gun control laws and ease others, changes to Maryland’s medical marijuana program, bills to expand voter registration, an effort to get Exelon to help pay for cleaning up when that mess that’s behind the Conowingo Dam comes pouring through the flood gates.

John Lee

  A commission that’s been studying Baltimore County’s budget released a preliminary report Friday which says the county should consider raising taxes. The commission is also proposing major changes to the budget process to make the county more fiscally sustainable.

 

 

Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers are set to consider Friday whether Johns Hopkins University should establish its own private police department, an effort that has been met with resistance from university faculty, staff, students, alumni and neighbors.

Rachel Baye

The way Maryland regulates the alcohol, tobacco and petroleum industries is at the center of a political fight between state legislators and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today tapped the head of the city’s social services department to be the county’s administrative officer.

 

Stacy Rodgers will be the first African-American to hold the job and is promising to be open and transparent.

 

 

Photo courtesy the Olszewski campaign

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said the budget passed by the county school board Tuesday night is not fiscally sustainable. 

 

 

Seth Sawyers/flickr

 

The Baltimore County School Board Tuesday night approved a budget to send to the county executive. It includes a pay raise for teachers and money to extend the school day by 15 minutes WYPR’s John Lee was there and talked about it with Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner.

 

 

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Tuesday released a laundry list of more than 200 objectives for the next four years. But the report from his transition team did not include details on how to pay for any of it.

 

It’s alcohol week in the Maryland General Assembly, with legislative committees taking up local liquor license bills for jurisdictions throughout the state as well as the bill that has led to early fireworks in this session. It would strip the State Comptroller of regulatory control over alcoholic beverages.

Also on the agenda are bills on workplace harassment, gun control, same day voter registration and a prohibition on smoking marijuana while driving.

Rachel Baye

Audio to be added.

A long-awaited report by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — better known as the Kirwan Commission — recommends full-day preschool for all low-income 3 and 4-year-olds, higher academic standards, more training for teachers and raising teacher pay. And it proposes creating an “independent oversight board” to ensure that the new policies, once they are approved, are properly implemented.

The report, released Thursday, recommends rolling out the changes over the next decade.

Rachel Baye

Irma Pretsfelder was born in 1926 in a small village in Germany. She was 11 years old in November 1938, when the synagogue where she went to school was burned, during what is known as Kristallnacht.

“The next morning, policemen came and said to my father, ‘I have to take you into custody,’” she told the state Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon. “‘But why are you taking me? What have I done?’ He said, ‘I have to obey orders. I have to take you to the next town.’”

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