Video of floor sessions coming to House of Delegates next year

In an unusual bipartisan statement, House Speaker Michael Busch, together with House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga and Del. David Moon, announced late Tuesday that the House of Delegates will begin live-streaming floor sessions during the 2020 legislative session. The two delegates, good government groups and journalists had pushed for the move for several years, as had Gov. Larry Hogan. Conservative Republican Szeliga and progressive Democrat Moon introduced their legislation requiring the streaming again Tuesday, and MarylandReporter.com wrote about the issue again two weeks ago.  

Legislation would delay Hogan plans to expand beltway, I-270

Gov. Larry Hogan’s plans for expanding the Capital Beltway and I-270 could be pushed back for a year by a bill that would first require a completed environmental assessment. Maryland House Bill 91 would require all pre-solicitation reports for Public-Private Partnerships — or P3s — to be held until an Environmental Impact Statement is finished. This would force Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transportation Authority to pull their current pre-solicitation report, and not present a new one until 2020.  

In West Baltimore for MLK Day: Too cold to march, but still honoring the dead

It was deemed too frigid Monday afternoon for the peace march from St. Bernadine’s parish in West Baltimore to walk the few blocks around the church where eight people, including a 7-year-old girl, were shot and killed just in the past year. Instead, in honor of Martin Luther King, we sang and prayed and listened to Archbishop William Lori. He condemned racism and acknowledged the complicity of the church in supporting it, including several of his 19th century predecessors who owned slaves themselves.

Shady deals at MTA, persisting problems with social services, issues with developmental disabilities, UMES, auditors find

In four reports released in the past week, state auditors found: potential shady contract deals at the Maryland Transit Administration that they referred for prosecution, persisting problems at local social services agencies, failure to follow state procurement regulations and check residency requirements at a state university, and problems in verifying that Marylanders with developmental disabilities are getting the help they need.

How can we understand a Chesapeake Bay we’ve never seen?

Author Victor Kennedy has examined the Bay’s past abundances of seafood, from terrapins and sturgeon to oysters and shad and waterfowl, sifting through anecdotal evidence and early surveys to arrive at a sense of just how full of life the Chesapeake was as Europeans began to settle it. His book also pulls together an accounting of how thoroughly we squandered the “immense protein factory” praised by Baltimore journalist H. L. Mencken. Kennedy says “generational amnesia” relating to historical abundances risks setting the bar too low for restoration goals.

Maryland voters support raising the minimum wage to $15

On one of the top issues facing legislators in Annapolis this session, 61% of Maryland voters favor raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and almost half (47%) strongly favor the idea, according to a new poll for MarylandReporter.com by Gonzales Research & Media Services. The move is broadly favored by more than three-fourths of Democrats (78%) and eight out of 10 African Americans (81%), as well as a majority of independents (55%). Only among Republican voters, a minority of the Maryland electorate, is their broad opposition to it, with almost half (49%) strongly opposed to the hourly hike.