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BLACKS STILL DISPROPORTIONALLY ARRESTED: While decriminalization in Maryland has significantly reduced the number of cannabis-related arrests, data indicate the Baltimoreans still being arrested for cannabis remain almost entirely and disproportionately black, reports a team of staffers from Baltimore Fishbowl. During 2015, 2016 and 2017, Baltimore police arrested 1,448 adults and 66 juveniles for cannabis possession, according to Baltimore Police Department data supplied by the FBI. Of those arrestees, 1,450 were black. That’s 96%.
BAIL REFORM FAILS TO FREE JAIL SPACE: Alicia Cherem and Carly Taylor write in MarylandReporter, the first part of a Capital News Service special project on bail reform and the trial courts. More defendants are being held without bail, according to data from the Maryland Judiciary, because the number of defendants held without bail has increased — despite bail reform that intended to let more people remain free before trial.
ON THE ANNAPOLIS AGENDA: In one week, Maryland lawmakers will be back at work in Annapolis to begin a 90-day session. Leaders say they hope to tackle a range of topics in this year’s session, including banning so-called “ghost guns,” criminal justice reform, legalizing marijuana and extending harassment laws to more employees, Kate Ryan of WTOP-AM reports.
HOPKINS SEEKS OWN POLICE FORCE: Spurred by a relentless rise in Baltimore City’s violent crime rate – and even raising the specter of an on-campus shooter – Johns Hopkins University officials are escalating efforts to convince the Maryland General Assembly to approve an independent police force for the institution, William Zorzi writes in Maryland Matters.
- In late December the university submitted to the Maryland General Assembly a report compiling the result of research, community discussions and stakeholder meetings and coming to the conclusion that the university’s best process to improve campus security would be to create its own police department. Tim Curtis of the Daily Record writes that the report follows an attempt last year to get legislation passed that would have enabled the university to create its own department. Instead, the university was asked to submit a report on research and community work it had done.
OPINION: CLOCK IS TICKING FOR PUGH: In his Roughly Speaking column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes that Baltimore City Mayor Catherine “Pugh can rattle off a litany of initiatives on the crime front, and some are promising. But I hear expressed little confidence that the trend is going to shift any time soon. And time is not on Pugh’s side.”
FED WORKERS SEEK UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Federal workers in Maryland have endured government shutdowns before, but as the current funding stalemate pushed into the new year, some said this one feels particularly ominous, and scores began seeking unemployment insurance benefits through Maryland, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.
PINSKY ON KIRWAN: What’s going on? Is the new school funding done? Is it going forward? Or, in fact, has support for our school children been delayed, once again? The answer is not simple, writes Sen. Paul Pinsky in a Maryland Matters commentary. Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, serves on the commission and is the incoming chairman of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
BALL URGES TRUMP, CONGRESS TO BE LIKE HOWARD: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Monday called on congressional leaders and President Donald Trump to come together to resolve the federal shutdown — saying Howard County could serve as an example of how to work together, the Sun is reporting.
IMMIGRANT PARENTS CAN TAP GUARDIAN: Immigrant parents in Maryland concerned about being deported may now designate someone to care for their children under an expansion of emergency guardianship measures that took effect Tuesday, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports. It’s the latest move by state legislators to push back against the immigration policies of President Donald Trump. Attorneys behind the effort say it will reassure parents and prevent their children from becoming wards of the state.
LAWMAKERS URGE BPW TO REJECT PIPELINE: More than 50 Maryland state lawmakers signed a letter urging the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject a deal that would let TransCanada build a pipeline in Western Maryland. Columbia Gas, owned by TransCanada, hopes to build a 3-mile long distribution line near Hancock, Md., to allow natural gas to be carried from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, Kate Ryan reports for WTOP-AM.
WHY PUSH FOR REDSKINS? In a news analysis for Maryland Matters, Bruce DePuyt writes about Gov. Larry Hogan’s push to keep the Redskins in Maryland. He looks at why, despite the facts – such as professional ball clubs and their stadiums are not the fiscal engines that they are touted to be and the Redskins suffer from massive dysunction – Hogan feels the need to do whatever he can to keep the Redskins.
- In a sports column for the Post, Sally Jenkins writes that “You’ve got to be either a drunk, a gambler or Daniel Snyder to tank your business in the NFL. The Washington Redskins owner has firmly established just what a bad investment risk he is. It is therefore the height of irresponsibility for any local government to even think of giving him a dime of public money, or a foot of free land, for a new stadium.”
ON STENY HOYER: Jenna Portnoy of the Post writes about U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the right-hand man to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and his role in the Democratic Party, the new (and old) House leadership and how he has crafted a vital role for himself despite his disagreements with Pelosi.
- Karen Hosler of WYPR-FM writes that at 79, Hoyer may never secure the long-coveted title of House speaker. But serving in the No. 2 job behind likely Speaker Nancy Pelosi assures him a key role in all legislative action and an office in some of the Capitol’s most luxurious real estate.
CUMMINGS SEEKS TO HOLD TRUMP ACCOUNTABLE: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings is preparing to chair the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January. And he’s already shipped off more than 50 letters to the administration and others in Trump’s orbit requesting answers to tough questions, Matt Laslo reports for WYPR-FM. “Over the past two years we have not had that,” Cummings says, “because our Republican colleagues refused to make President Trump accountable.”
TRONE TAPS STAFF CHIEF: Incoming House freshmen Rep.-elect David Trone has named Capitol Hill veteran staffer Andy Flick as his chief of staff, writes Ryan Miner in his Miner Detail blog. Flick, the political director at Serve America PAC who worked previously for Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) as his deputy chief of staff on Capitol Hill, is set to begin in the role when the 116th Congress opens next week.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Ryan Miner, of A Miner Detail podcast, features KO Affairs founding partner Damian O’Doherty as they discuss 2018 in politics.