PUBLIC SCHOOLS DOWN ABOUT 28,000 STUDENTS: Attendance has dropped by an estimated 28,000 students at Maryland’s public schools this year as system leaders continue to grapple with enrollment losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.
RALLY AGAINST GHOST GUNS, FOR COMPLETE BAN: State Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery), who is co-sponsoring a bill to ban ghost guns, said she believes there is a good chance the bill will be passed this year. Lee said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is backing the measure. She was interviewed during a Tuesday rally of survivors of violence and volunteers with the advocacy group Moms Demand Action, who are urging Maryland lawmakers to make legislation banning ghost guns in Maryland a priority. Glynis Kazanjian and Brad Bell/WJLA-7News.
The demonstration comes just four days after a 17-year-old student at Magruder High School in Montgomery County shot a 15-year-old classmate with a ghost gun, police said. Kaitlyn Levinson/Capital News Service for Maryland Reporter.
- Efforts to ban ghost guns have languished in Annapolis the past few years, but lawmakers and activists are making a renewed push for the ban as the weapons are becoming more common. Ghost guns are generally sold as kits that are 80% complete, typically with no serial number, that purchasers finish putting together themselves. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun.
- In Prince George’s County, Police Chief Malik Aziz said recently that officers seized 27 untraceable ghost guns in 2019. Last year the department recovered 264. Since 2019, Aziz said, investigators have linked at least 13 homicides, 10 robberies and 20 aggravated assaults — many committed by young people, including some in their teens — to ghost guns. Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post.
- Sen. Lee and Del. Lesley J. Lopez (D-Montgomery) are introducing a ghost gun ban for the second year in a row, with the support of House Judiciary Chair Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) and Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D). Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.
COVID DEATHS ALREADY REACH MONTHLY HIGH: Covid-19 deaths are mounting in Maryland even as new infections decline. With nearly a week left in January, the state on Tuesday already had logged 1,475 covid-related fatalities, more than double the number recorded in December, and higher than any other month since the pandemic began. Rebecca Tan and Jenna Portnoy/The Washington Post.
- Although Carroll Hospital said it is seeing fewer COVID-19 positive patients, data from the Carroll County Health Department released Tuesday show that 15 county residents died as a result of the virus in the past week. Madison Bateman/The Carroll County Times.
FLOOR DEBATE ON REMAPPING PLAN COULD START TODAY: The House of Delegates could begin floor debate on a state legislative redistricting plan as early as Wednesday morning after a committee advanced that proposal Tuesday. The House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee voted along party lines to advance the proposal at a virtual meeting Tuesday morning. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
BILL WOULD SET UP ELECTED ‘GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG’ OFFICE: A proposed constitutional amendment to add a new elected watchdog to the state government got its first airing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 152, introduced by Del. Vaughn M. Stewart (D-Montgomery) would amend the state constitution to set up a “public advocate” elected office in Maryland to serve as a statewide ombudsman to “receive, respond to, and investigate ethics complaints” against state officials. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
OPINION: MAKE THOSE TAX CUTS MEAN SOMETHING: Randolph May of the think tank Free State Foundation, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, opines that given Maryland’s massive projected budget surplus — about equal to the size of Gov. Larry Hogan’s tax relief package — “the legislature should adopt meaningful tax cuts. Absent such action, it’s likely that Maryland’s business climate will continue to worsen, and that Maryland may experience out-migration from the state, especially by retirees.”
CLEAN ENERGY RECEPTION: The Maryland Clean Energy Center’s 2022 Legislative Reception will feature guest legislators and speakers, with a featured panel to discuss Energy & the Built Environment: Strategies Aimed at Addressing Climate Change. This panel session will examine the challenges, opportunities, and recommendations related to building de-carbonization to achieve demand reduction goals from the perspective of consumers, industry, and utilities. Tickets are on sale now for this hybrid event on Feb. 17, with an in-person luncheon in Annapolis. All registrants will receive program recordings.
NASA PUTS 105 WOODED ACRES IN GREENBELT ON THE MARKET: NASA is moving to sell a 105-acre woodland in Greenbelt, which it used for for cryogenics and rocket propulsion testing. NASA is poised to sell the land, but others are calling for preservation, preferably by making it part of the neighboring wildlife research reserve. Timothy Wheeler/The Bay Journal for Maryland Reporter.
OPINION: VACCINE PASSPORTS: In an opinion piece for the Seventh State, David Lublin opines on Montgomery County and its proposed vaccine passports. He writes: My preference is that Maryland create a vaccine passport but allow each county to determine … their use. … A lack in uniformity is not ideal from a health point of view but it will allow our geographically large counties to pick the policy that fits them. Montgomery can go it alone if Maryland doesn’t act.”
SO FAR, THREE IN RACE FOR HARFORD EXEC: Thus far, three candidates — two Republicans and one Democrat — have entered the race for Harford County executive, where Barry Glassman is term-limited from seeking re-election. They are: Billy Boniface, Glassman’s chief adviser; state Sen. Bob Cassilly; and Blane Miller. Jason Fontelieu/The Aegis.
LOOKING FOR COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS: Maryland Reporter is looking to publish more commentary and analysis on issues about state government and politics from all points of view – left, center and right. If you have an opinion or analysis piece you’d like to see published, contact Len@MarylandReporter.com. The commentary needs to be exclusive to Maryland Reporter and 500 to 800 words long.
ARUNDEL JUDGE LEAVES MASK MANDATE IN PLACE: An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge denied a preliminary injunction to block the countywide mask mandate issued Jan. 7 by the county health officer after 15 minutes of deliberation Tuesday afternoon, keeping in place the requirement that face coverings be worn in indoor county public areas and crowded outdoor public settings through Monday. Donovan Conway/The Capital Gazette.
STATE SETS ASIDE $58.6M FOR HOWARD CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed fiscal 2023 capital budget has earmarked $58.6 million to Howard County construction projects. The largest share of the funds, about $14.8 million, is for Howard Community College’s Mathematics and Athletics Complex. Katie Jones/Baltimore Sun Media.
B’MORE BUSINESSES RALLY AROUND ‘THE BLOCK’ OVER SHUTDOWN PROPOSAL: Baltimore business owners from Fells Point and Little Italy joined their colleagues and workers from The Block at a rally outside City Hall Tuesday, decrying a state proposal they say would devastate more than a dozen clubs on the short stretch of East Baltimore Street by closing them before their most profitable hours. Taylor DeVille/The Baltimore Sun.
Happy Birthday to Del.Haven Shoemaker and Del. Nick Kipke.