POLL: SUPPORT FOR KIRWAN HIGH, TAXES TOO HIGH: Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes that a new Goucher College poll has found that Marylanders overwhelmingly support the programs to improve public schools proposed by the state’s Kirwan Commission, but roughly half of state residents believe they already pay taxes that are “too high.”

  • Bryan Sears of the Daily Record quotes Mileah Kromer, director of the Goucher Poll: “There is public support for the merits of the Kirwan Commission recommendations. The problem is there is also a feeling there is a tax burden in this state. There’s always a question of cost, and the question of cost has to be addressed.”
  • More than a third of Marylanders — 37% — would rather keep state services and taxes where they are. And even more troubling for advocates of education reform, 28% would rather have fewer state government services in order to reduce taxes. Only 28% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay more in taxes if it meant improved state services, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.

FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR KIRWAN SALES TAX BILL: A novel approach to expand Maryland’s sales tax — with the appealing benefit of generating enough revenue to pay for a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar education reform plan — was expected to clear a procedural hurdle Friday morning, but faces an uncertain future in the second half of the 90-day General Assembly session, Danielle Gaines reports in Maryland Matters.

OPINION: TAX EXPANSION FOR KIRWAN BAD FOR BUSINESS: In addressing its support for the Kirwan education initiatives, the editorial board for the Carroll County Times also opines that while it isn’t “convinced the tax expansion (proposal put forward by Del. Eric Luedtke) would be particularly painful for most citizens .. the potential negative impact on businesses is more than reason enough to oppose this bill.”

GANSLER OK WITH MANDATORY MINIMUMS: Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler weighed in on Friday on the battle between Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly over legislation that would increase mandatory minimum sentences for those who commit gun crimes — saying such punishment is appropriate for repeat offenders, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter.

OPINION: HOGAN’s CROCK OF TEARS: The editorial board for the Sun takes Gov. Larry Hogan to task for his crime-fighting legislation, saying that Hogan’s impassioned pleas to end violence rang false. “No doubt the governor actually supports tougher mandatory minimums that take sentencing decisions out of the hands of judges. But it’s mind-boggling to believe that anyone looking at Baltimore’s recent violent crime woes blames it all on sentencing decisions,” the board opines.

BILL WOULD BAN WAIVERS FOR SEX-ASSAULT VICTIMS: It was long a common practice among some Baltimore-area police departments: Offer sexual-assault victims a waiver form to document that they didn’t want to go forward with their case. Now some Maryland lawmakers want to ban police from using such waivers in sexual- assault cases so that victims aren’t discouraged to report and prosecute the crimes, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.

RX POT IN SCHOOLS: A controversial statewide bill inspired by two Millersville teenagers who suffer seizure disorders could ensure students across Maryland who qualify for medical marijuana get easier access during the school day, Olivia Sanchez is reporting for the Capital Gazette.

SENATE OKs HOME ACT: After almost 20 years of consideration, the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act was finally passed in the Senate chamber Friday. Should the House follow suit, and the bill is signed into law, it would make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective renters based on their lawful source of income, reports Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters.

OPINION: STATE GOV’T FALLING APART: AFSCME Maryland President Patrick Moran opines in a column for the Sun that “after five years of Gov. Larry Hogan’s mismanagement and indifference, our state government is falling apart.

FEASIBILITY OF BOWIE LAW SCHOOL: Louis Krauss of the Daily Record writes that legislation before the General Assembly would create a task force to examine the creation of a third law school in Maryland at Bowie State University.

OPINION: REMEDIES TO PUBLIC INFORMATION DISPUTES: In a column for the Sun, Maryland’s first Public Access ombudsman, Lisa Kershner, and John West, chair of the Public Information Act Compliance Board, urge the state legislature to expand the duties and remedies of the board, writing that “the best solution would be to expand the jurisdiction of the board to review and decide all the kinds of PIA disputes that cannot be resolved through the ombudsman’s mediation process.”

STEIN SPONSORS ANTI-ANIMAL KILLING CONTEST BILL: Rachel Chason of the Post reports that the Humane Society is pushing legislation in statehouses across the country – including in Maryland – that would bar the killing of “fur-bearing mammals” — such as foxes, coyotes and raccoons — in competitions that offer cash prizes. “When it’s deer or turkey, hunters will donate or eat it, but this is different,” said state Del. Dana  Stein (D-Baltimore County).

PURPLE LINE CONSTRUCTION RELIEF: A bill sponsored by Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Silver Spring) to authorize state-funded grants for  businesses that can document a loss in revenue resulting from the 16 miles of the Purple Line construction route was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis on Thursday, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

  • Area residents and business-owners alike say they are looking forward to the mobility options the Purple Line will bring. But they worry whether they can survive 18 months of construction that is expected to make their street all-but-impossible to traverse, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

SUFFRAGE ARTWORK FOR ANNAPOLIS: A historic image of women who lobbied legislators for women’s voting rights 100 years ago could soon grace the streets of downtown Annapolis, Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports. Of course, legislators have to approve it first. The Downtown Annapolis Business Partnership is shopping around for the best location and an artist to do the job in hopes that legislators will grant $15,000 — the full cost of the project.

MO CO SCHOOLS STRUGGLE OVER COPS: Rebecca Tan of the Post writes about Montgomery County parents struggling over the public schools’ use of resource officers: Do they keep the children safe or do they put some children in danger?

B’MORE YOUTH FUND BUCKS: More money from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund is expected to begin flowing as early as next Friday, following months of delays that had some grassroots organizations worried about how they would stay afloat, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

TAKOMA PARK CONSIDERS FOSSIL-FUEL BAN: Takoma Park, the liberal enclave just outside Washington known as the “Berkeley of the East,” is debating whether to outlaw gas stoves, leaf blowers and water heaters, Rebecca Tan reports in the Post.

OPINION: RESTORE FED FUNDS FOR FORT DETRICK: In urging the federal government to restore funding to the Fort Detrick research lab, the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post opines that “these have been dark days and months at Fort Detrick, home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and the engine of prosperity for Frederick County and the entire region. Since the Centers for Disease Control suspended work at the institute last summer, the facility seems to have lurched from one crisis to another.”