LAWSUITS PROMISED OVER NEWLY ADOPTED REDISTRICTING MAPS: Critics of Maryland’s newly redrawn congressional maps promised to once again file lawsuits to block the reconfigured electoral districts, which Republicans blasted as a blatant partisan power grab by Democrats. But fighting partisan gerrymandering in the courts now appears even more difficult than a decade ago, when opponents fought a losing battle against Maryland’s last redistricting plan. Bryn Stole/The Baltimore Sun.
2 LAWMAKERS MAKE JUVENILE JUSTICE A PRIORITY: Advocates and two state lawmakers announced Thursday that they plan to prioritize bills during the 2022 legislative session that would bar police from questioning kids without their parents’ knowledge and reform the juvenile court system. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.
COVID SPIKE UPDATE: HOSPITALIZATIONS, VIRTUAL SCHOOL: Maryland health officials reported 1,027 COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday morning. It’s the first time hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000 since April. Dr. Clare Rock, an infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine, noted that the number of intensive care patients is also on the rise. It surpassed 200 earlier this week. Sarah Kim/WYPR-FM.
- Students at a private high school in North Bethesda will return to the online classroom because of a sharp spike in COVID cases. The move at Georgetown Prep followed 30 students testing positive for the virus. Sarah Jacobs/WTOP-FM.
TOP HOUSE ADVISOR TO START PR FIRM: A top aide to the last two leaders of the House of Delegates will leave her post at the end of the year. Alexandra Hughes, 44, will be missing from her usual spot on the rostrum within earshot of House Speaker Adrienne Jones when the 2022 session starts. A fixture in the speaker’s office for 15 years, Hughes will leave to start her own Annapolis public relations firm. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.
- On May 1, 2019, as the House of Delegates gathered in Annapolis to select a new leader three weeks after the sudden death of Speaker Michael E. Busch (D), Hughes, Busch’s longtime lieutenant, packed up her State House office, unsure if the next speaker would want to keep her around. “I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Hughes recalled in a recent interview. “It was so hard not to be in control of that process and to leave everybody to their own devices.” She shouldn’t have worried. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
SPORTS BETTING STARTS: Baltimore-area casinos opened their sportsbooks to the public Friday, part of the launch of long-awaited in-person sports betting in Maryland. Before a buzzing crowd at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino that included casino employees and actors dressed as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Brandon Scott and others cut the ribbon for the 15,000-square-foot sports betting room in the South Baltimore casino. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.
GOVERNOR’s CANDIDATES FORUM A BIG DRAW: The event is billed as an effort to promote issues deemed important to Montgomery County, but over eggs and bacon, the real business was politics and campaigning for governor. The crowd was among the largest, despite the pandemic, which required attendees to show proof of vaccination. Ana Radelat/Bethesda Beat.
FRANCHOT HAD PREVIOUS COMMITMENT: Comptroller Peter Franchot’s gubernatorial campaign insisted on Friday that his decision to pass on a high-profile candidate forum was not part of an orchestrated effort to avoid debates. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.
RASKIN’S YEAR: Rep. Jamie Raskin was on the cover of The Washington Post Magazine Sunday for a long story on his “Year of Grief and Purpose. A son’s suicide, an attack on the Capitol and a congressman’s renewed sense of mission.”
NEPHEW’s DEATH PUSHES TRONE TO FIND SOURCE OF OPIOID CRISIS: Five years after the death of his nephew, David Trone went to Mexico looking for the source of what killed him: the opioid epidemic. It was official business — a trip last month in his capacity as co-chair of the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking — but now it was hard to separate the personal from the official, as almost everything the Maryland Democrat was doing in Congress found its way back to Ian. Meagan Flynn/The Washington Post.
IVEY POLL GIVES HIM LEAD IN RACE FOR CONGRESS: A poll conducted last week for Glenn Ivey’s congressional campaign showed him with a substantial lead over the two other Democrats who have entered the 4th District primary to replace U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown — but with more than half of the voters still undecided. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
CRITICS SAY BA CO SHOULD CREATE 2nd BLACK-MAJORITY DISTRICT: Critics of Baltimore County’s redistricting proposal say demographic data supports creating a second majority-Black district, despite claims from County Council members and other plan architects that it can’t be done. The Baltimore County Council is forging ahead with a draft that maintains one majority-Black district out of seven in a county that is 30% Black and 45% nonwhite. Taylor DeVille/tHE Baltimore Sun.
500+ ARUNDEL COUNTY WORKERS GET $1,000 CHECKS FOR VAXX: More than 500 county employees collected a $1,000 check from Anne Arundel County after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 between September and the end of November, according to a Friday news release announcing the results of an incentive program. An additional approximately 4,270 employees were already vaccinated and received the $1,000 as well. Dana Munro/The Capital Gazette.
PITTMAN FILES FOR RE-ELECTION: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman officially filed for reelection last week in hopes of continuing the progressive work he started in office over the past four years. Dana Munro/The Capital. Gazette.
ARUNDEL, HOWARD TEAM TO AID FT. MEADE SERVICE MEMBERS: Fort George G. Meade, Anne Arundel County and Howard County codified a partnership Tuesday to expand workforce services for transitioning service members, active-duty spouses and veterans affiliated with the fort. Dana Munro/The Capital Gazette.
CARROLL RAISES PAY FOR SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS: To attract more substitute teachers and retain the ones already working in the school system, the Carroll County Board of Education voted Wednesday night to increase pay rates by $30-$50 per day for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. Cameron Goodnight/The Carroll County Times.
HARFORD STUDENTS WALK OUT OVER RESPONSE TO ASSAULTS: Students at Aberdeen High School in Harford County staged a walkout Wednesday in response to allegations the school administration is not taking accusations of sexual harassment and assault seriously. Callan Tansill-Suddath/The Aegis
REMOVED CONFEDERATE STATUES HEAD TO LA SHOW: Baltimore’s Confederate statues, removed from public view in the middle of the night in 2017, are heading to California where they will be put on display in a museum exhibit in 2022. Ed Gunts/Baltimore Fishbowl.