State Roundup: Jones seeks to enshrine abortion rights; lawmakers talk legal toking; some Blueprint plans delayed

State Roundup: Jones seeks to enshrine abortion rights; lawmakers talk legal toking; some Blueprint plans delayed

State lawmakers are beginning to tackle legalized recreational cannabis should Maryland voters pass it in referendum. Photo by 'Dad Grass' for Pixabay.

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JONES SEEKS TO PUT ABORTION RIGHTS IN STATE CONSTITUTION: Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones wants voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, pushing a measure that could be on the ballot this fall. Flanked by female lawmakers and Planned Parenthood of Maryland leaders, Jones (D-Baltimore County) launched the effort Monday against a backdrop of mounting challenges to the landmark Roe v. Wade case. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.

  • Leading Maryland House members said Monday that they will support a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in the state, as well as other measures to broaden access, because of the possibility a conservative U.S. Supreme Court could overturn or weaken federal abortion-rights protections. Brian Witte/The Associated Press.
  • Two other bills were discussed during the conference. One would, among other aspects, expand the number of practitioners who can provide abortions in the state. The second would alleviate financial barriers to abortion by requiring it to be covered under certain health insurance plans. Callan Tansill-Suddath/WYPR-FM.
  • Considering the current makeup of the Supreme Court, abortion rights supporters fear for the fate of Roe v. Wade. “The Supreme Court is likely to continue to erode … a woman’s right to control her reproductive health care,” Pendergrass said. “These bills need to pass this year to protect access to abortion in Maryland.” Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.

LAWMAKERS TAKE UP LEGALIZED RECREATIONAL CANNABIS: Maryland lawmakers on Monday began delving into the details of how to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, should voters support it on the ballot this fall. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun.

  • The chair of the House Judiciary Committee vowed Monday that Maryland would learn from the mistakes of other states who legalized recreational marijuana. Included in those cautionary tales is how Maryland rolled out its medical cannabis program. Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore and chair of the House Judiciary Committee called the state’s early efforts “a debacle.” Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.
  • The House of Delegates is considering two measures — House Bill 1, which would establish a referendum this November, and House Bill 837, which would create a regulatory framework for a marijuana industry. As currently drafted, the second bill wouldn’t take effect until July 1, 2023. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.

SOME EDUCATION BLUEPRINT PLANS DELAYED: A day before a major deadline, Maryland’s education reform oversight board on Monday approved a new timeline that pushes back some key dates in the decade-long Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.

OPINION: THE TROUBLE WITH ‘GAME CHANGERS:’ Skeptics like me predicted it. But there is no joy to be found in the fact that the $389 million plan to redevelop Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park is in trouble, with completion of the project delayed for at least two years. It is another reason, however, to revisit the way in which community and economic development policy is shaped in Baltimore. David Plymyer/Baltimore Brew.

DOUGLASS AND THE BLACK JOURNALISM MOVEMENT: Journalism was one way for enslaved Blacks to learn about freedom and Frederick Douglass, who escaped enslavement from Maryland and went on to become an abolitionist, orator and presidential advisor, was one of its early founders and proponents. Adonijah Bourne of The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism/Maryland Reporter.

OPINION: HONOR TRUMP DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH: February is African American History Month but I believe Black History shouldn’t be a curriculum in our schools to teach American history, that should be taught at home for patriotism. I also think that this Black History Month should include a mention of President Trump’s historic political policies for African Americans. Chris Anderson,  state Senate candidate/Maryland Reporter. 

HOGAN LIFTS STATE BUILDING MASK MANDATE: Maryland’s mask mandate for workers and visitors in state buildings will be lifted next week, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday. Christine Condon/The Baltimore Sun.

BA CO TO LIFT MASK, TESTING MANDATES: Baltimore County will lift its indoor mask requirement in county buildings and end its mandate for weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated county employees effective Feb. 28. Taylor DeVille/The Baltimore Sun.

MO CO NIXES VAXX PASSPORT AFTER D.C. ENDS ITS USE: Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz said Monday that there “are no plans” to bring a proposed vaccine passport to a final vote in the near future. Washington, D.C., announced on Monday it will end its vaccine passport mandate for indoor businesses on Tuesday. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich previously proposed a vaccine passport for many indoor businesses, with specifics released in late December. Steve Bohnel/Bethesda Beat.

COMPLAINTS ON BALTIMORE’s POSTAL SERVICE: In complaints and statistics, mail delivery in Baltimore is bleak. According to U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, Baltimore is among the worst in the nation for on-time delivery performance. Federal legislators questioned Acting Executive Baltimore Postmaster Eric Gilbert about his progress in implementing recommendations outlined in the audits and when customers can expect to see improvements. Mallory Sofastaii/WMAR-TV News.

  • The OIG’s November report included recommendations for Postal Service officials in Maryland, like setting up a new system to finish the removal process for part-time mail carriers who are no longer employed, hiring and retaining an adequate number of mail carriers, and opening a third carrier training academy in the region. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.

B’MORE SPENT 3% OF ARPA FUND THUS FAR: Baltimore City has so far spent 3% of funds the city received through the federal 2021 American Rescue Plan Act for responding to the coronavirus pandemic’s health and economic impacts, according to a new online dashboard tracking the city’s allotment of ARPA funds. Marcus Dieterle/Baltimore Fishbowl.

ANNAPOLIS NAVY ENGINEER PLEADS GUILTY TO TRYING TO SELL SECRETS: A Navy nuclear engineer pleaded guilty Monday to charges he tried to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign country, and will likely spend at least a dozen years behind bars after admitting he conspired with his wife in the high-profile espionage case. Devlin Barrett/The Washington Post.

  • Jonathan Toebbe divulged thousands of pages of documents with schematic designs, operating parameters and performance characteristics about “nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines,” known in the U.S. Navy as the Virginia-class of submarines, according to his plea. Alex Mann/The Baltimore Sun.

FORMER STATE SEN. BERNIE FOWLER, 97, DIES: Clyde B. “Bernie” Fowler, a former Maryland state senator who worked tirelessly to preserve the Patuxent River and restore the Chesapeake Bay, and was known for his annual “wade-in,” died of heart failure Dec. 12 at the Asbury Care and Rehabilitation Center in Solomons in Calvert County. The Dares Beach resident was 97. Fred Rasmussen/The Baltimore Sun.

MARYLANDERS FOR AFFORDABLE RX: Marylanders for Affordable Rx is educating policymakers and the public on the real reasons behind high prescription drug costs and exposing special interests that are out to pad their bottom line at the expense of Maryland’s hardworking people. Across the country and in our state, we see special interests, like Big Pharma and the independent pharmacy lobby, push agendas that would make it harder for patient advocates like pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs. Learn more and help us stop special interests from increasing our Rx costs. (Paid Advertising)

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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