State House at Sunset. Photo by

Slew of new Md. laws take effect Saturday: drunk driving, police conduct, equal pay

This Saturday, many of the laws passed during this year’s General Assembly session go into effect. Some key new laws Oct. 1 include measures to : require ignition interlocks for drunk driving and increase penalties for killing people while driving drunk; to
make drivers carry cards showing current insurance coverage; to expand protections for equal pay for equal work and employees discussing their salaries; to improve public oversight of the police; to encourage more reporting of child abuse and neglect; and
withhold tax refunds for people with outstanding arrest warrants;. Other new laws deal with solar hookups, pesticides that kill bees, freedom of the press for students, and gambling on card games and mahjong at home (no kidding).

prescription drugs

Md. health group wants legislation to attack high cost of prescription drugs

With EpiPens and other prescription drugs rising in cost, families who desperately need them but do not have health insurance coverage are bearing a huge financial burden, according to community advocates. The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, a coalition of more than 1,200 religious, labor, business and policy groups seeking affordable health care, wants the state legislature to address that financial burden by overhauling some of the laws governing drug pricing.


Lazarick and Vatz on the debate: Few minds changed about candidates we know pretty well

Who won the debate? What right does the media have to decide an encounter where the scoring is vague and the goal posts are movable? The more important question : Whose minds were changed by the debate? Very few, probably, writes Len Lazarick. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were much as we’ve come to know them over more than a year of campaigning, and years in the public eye. Professor Rick Vatz gives the win to Hillary by a nose, with too many missed opportunities for Trump.

Gov. Larry Hogan signs executive order declaring schools will strart after Labor Day. He is joined by Comptroller Peter Franchot applauding on the left and Sen. Jim Mathias with arms raised on the right. Governor's Office Photo.

Rascovar: Let courts decide who sets Md. school calendar

Does Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. have the power to issue an executive order mandating when the school year begins and ends? It’s not the most pressing question facing Maryland – but the answer could have a dramatic impact on the state’s future governance. Indeed, there’s an urgent need for someone on either side of this issue to take the matter to court. A constitutional question of enormous consequence is at stake.

The Jones-Hall-Sims house sat in Poolesville, Maryland, for over a century where it housed the descendants of freed slaves. Photo courtesy of The Montgomery County Planning Department, Historic Preservation Office.

From Freedom House to Freddie Gray: Maryland well-represented in new African-American museum

Although the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture opens Saturday in the heart of Washington, the state of Maryland from which D.C. was carved has a strong presence. From a freed slave house in Montgomery County to photographs of Baltimore’s unrest after Freddie Gray’s death, Maryland’s black experience throughout history is broadly represented. According to the museum’s online collection, Maryland was among the top 15 states with the most artifacts.

At the Board of Revenue Estimates Wednesday, from left, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Andrew Schaufele, chief of revenue estimates. Capital News Service Photo by Vickie Connor

State revenue estimates are down $783 million over the next two years, biggest write-down since 2010  

Maryland tax revenues are expected to be down $365 million this fiscal year and another $418 million in fiscal 2018, a $783 million drop in what the state can spend, eating up all this year’s projected budget surplus. The estimate revision is the largest projected write-down since 2010, when the state was in the midst of recession recovery and the panel was off by 5%. “These are significant reductions in our estimates, and reflect the volatility that Maryland’s economy continues to experience,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

Pepco, Delmarva seeking higher electric rates

In less than a year, three Exelon-owned power companies have filed petitions with the Public Service Commission of Maryland to raise the price of electric bills. After Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.’s rate adjustment was granted in June, Delmarva Power and Pepco now seek to raise their prices, citing millions of dollars invested into improving their electric systems and services during the past few years. However, many, including Montgomery County councilmember Roger Berliner, said they believe these rate adjustments are unwarranted and will disproportionately affect lower-income residents already struggling to pay bills.

Photo of Michael Phelps in Rio Olympics by Andy Miah with Flickr Creative Commons license

Wealth may be a factor in Maryland’s Olympic success

Athletes from Maryland – including Michael Phelps (Towson) and Katie Ledecky (Bethesda) – dominated at the 2016 Rio Olympics, bringing home 16 gold medals. Why did so many Olympic stars hail from Maryland? It might be because Maryland is one of the nation’s wealthiest states. And training for the Olympics is not cheap.