MARYLAND MOVES TO SEVER TIES WITH RUSSIA OVER UKRAINE INVASION: Maryland has terminated its largely symbolic “Sister State” relationship with the region that includes the Russian city of St. Petersburg due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Gov. Larry Hogan sent a letter to Aleksandr Drozdenko, the governor of Leningrad Oblast, on Monday that cited “the duty of every government to remain vigilant of unlawful acts against public order, democratic principles and innocent civilians.” Bryn Stole/The Baltimore Sun.
- First the Russian vodka came off the shelves in Montgomery County. Then Maryland’s three-decade relationship with the Leningrad region dissolved with a curt letter. Next might be the state’s approximately $100 million worth of investments linked to Russian companies. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS PUSH AGAIN CUTTING EMISSIONS STANDARDS: Following a slew of building industry groups, energy companies and restaurateurs testifying in both the House and Senate against a key provision of major climate change legislation, environmental advocates consolidated on Monday to push for the bill’s full provisions that impose strict emissions reduction standards on the building industry. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT END OF SCHOOL MASK MANDATE: Maryland’s statewide masking mandate for schools lifted Tuesday, with some school systems immediately pivoting to an optional face coverings policy. What do you need to know? Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.
COLLEGES, MORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS DITCH MASKING: With counties across Maryland dropping their indoor mask mandates, several colleges and universities are following suit and revising their on-campus COVID-19 restrictions. Most recently, two universities, the University of Maryland, College Park, and Towson University, announced they would lift their indoor mask mandates. Johanna Alonso/The Daily Record.
- The past few days brought the end of school mask mandates for Washington County, new federal masking guidelines and fewer COVID-19 patients in Maryland hospitals. “Are we still going to be vigilant? There’s no question about that. But this does look like the beginning of a next phase and let’s hope it lasts,” Dr. Chris Beyrer, professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on Friday. Staff/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.
NEW STATE PORTAL WOULD TRACK VENDOR PAYMENTS: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) announced a new online portal for tracking state payments to vendors Monday. But a state senator slammed the comptroller for not acting sooner to make vendor payment information publicly available. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
BILLS WOULD BAN USE OF CREDIT SCORES IN SETTING CAR INSURANCE RATES: Companies that provide car insurance to Maryland motorists are prohibited from using a person’s credit score in deciding whether to write them a policy. But companies may use credit scores in setting a policyholder’s premium. The result, critics contend, is that certain car owners face higher premiums than they should. Two state lawmakers hope this is the year the General Assembly outlaws the use of credit scores in setting car insurance rates. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT LAGGING: The Maryland State Department of Education released more data last week on student achievement, offering a sobering look at how the pandemic has affected school systems across the region. The scores come from the first Maryland standardized tests given since the beginning of the pandemic. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.
GOP DELEGATES SAY ARUNDEL MAP GERRYMANDERED: Three Republican state delegates filed a lawsuit in February challenging the new legislative district map, arguing that it violates the Maryland Constitution. One of the most gerrymandered regions, they say, is Anne Arundel County. Dana Munro/The Capital Gazette.
COUNTY EXEC GARDNER TO ATTEND STATE OF UNION VIRTUALLY: When President Joe Biden takes the dais at the front of the U.S. House chamber Tuesday night for his first State of the Union address, Frederick County will have at least one interested observer — even if from a distance. County Executive Jan Gardner (D) will be Democrat U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s guest for the speech scheduled for Tuesday night. Gardner will attend virtually because of attendance limits in the House galleries. Ryan Marshall/The Frederick News Post.
OP-ED: PENSION IDEA PENNYWISE, POUND FOOLISH: A recent op-ed in the Washington Post argued that “Maryland is wasting its pensioners’ money” by investing system assets in a diversified portfolio rather than simply investing the $70 billion portfolio in a couple of index funds. Doing so would cost the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, and ultimately State taxpayers, billions of dollars in lost investment earnings. Of even greater concern, the proposal would significantly increase the risk to the portfolio. Martin Noven/Maryland State Retirement and Pension System.
Get your commentary published: In recent weeks, Maryland Reporter has published a wide range of opinion on issues that are before the General Assembly — or should be, writers say. Subjects like soft drinks for kiddie meals, security of mail-in ballots, car pricing on the internet, the hazards of corporate taxation and the fears of people with disabilities about assisted dying, If you have a commentary about Maryland government and politics you’d like to see published, send it along to Len@MarylandReporter.com. It needs to be exclusive to Maryland Reporter and 700 words or less.
B’MORE TO PUT $41M IN ARPA FUNDS TOWARD PARK & REC: On Monday, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced plans to invest $41 million investment of federal American Rescue Plan funds in the city’s aging and deteriorating recreation and parks department. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.
PARKWAY RENAMED TO HONOR ABOLITIONIST, INSPIRATION FOR ‘UNCLE TOM’S CABIN:’ Montrose Parkway in Montgomery County will be renamed Josiah Henson Parkway to honor the 19th-century Methodist preacher who became an abolitionist after escaping enslavement on a plantation in present-day North Bethesda. Henson’s 1849 autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s popular 1852 novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” credited with building support for the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War. In addition to being an abolitionist, planners said, Henson led 118 people out of enslavement to Canada as part of the Underground Railroad. Katherine Shaver/The Washington Post.
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)