State Roundup: Biden announces $4B to replace Baltimore tunnel; Senate OKs funds for suicide hotline; safe harbor bill would protect child trafficking victims

State Roundup: Biden announces $4B to replace Baltimore tunnel; Senate OKs funds for suicide hotline; safe harbor bill would protect child trafficking victims

As a train passes in Baltimore, President Biden on Monday promotes his bipartisan infrastructure law and the billions of dollars that are slated to go into the aging Baltimore train tunnel, which he has travel through thousands of times between Washington and Delaware. Governor's Office photo by Patrick Siebert.

BIDEN TOUTS TRAIN TUNNEL REPLACEMENT: President Joe Biden visited Baltimore Monday afternoon, celebrating the start of a multibillion-dollar project to replace an outdated train tunnel that is a frequent source of delays. Callan Tansill-Suddath/The Baltimore Banner.

  • Biden announced that more than $4 billion in federal infrastructure money will help to replace the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, a crucial piece of the Northeast rail network that is a source of delays 150 years after it was built. Luz Lazo/The Washington Post.
  • “For years, people talked about fixing this tunnel,” Biden told a crowd in Baltimore. “Back in the early ’80s, I actually walked into the tunnel with some of the construction workers. … This is a 150-year-old tunnel. You wonder how in the hell it’s still standing.” Staff/The Associated Press.
  • As a U.S. senator, Biden commuted between his home state of Delaware and Washington on Amtrak for years. The president said he had been through the tunnel 1,000 times while logging more than a million miles on the passenger railroad. Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.

SENATE OKs BILL TO FUND SUICIDE HOTLINE: The first bill approved by the Maryland Senate this year will fund the state’s 988 suicide and crisis hotline. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Malcolm Augustine, a Prince George’s County Democrat, will require the governor to put $12 million for the hotline into the budget in 2025. Augustine’s bill attracted a bipartisan group of 13 senators as cosponsors. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

‘SAFE HARBOR’ BILL WOULD PROTECT CHILD TRAFFICKING VICTIMS: Child advocates hope this year marks successful passage of legislation in Maryland to protect minors who are victims of human and sex trafficking. This 90-day General Assembly session marks the third time in recent years for the introduction of a “safe harbor” bill that includes a provision that wouldn’t allow those 17 years old and younger to face prosecution. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

ADVOCATES SAY COMPASSIONATE RELEASE SYSTEM IS FAILING: The system for granting prisoners compassionate release — a term that encompasses both medical and geriatric parole — is broken in Maryland, advocates say. Between 2013-2022, the Maryland Parole Commission approved 149 people for medical parole but denied 464 others. The law and regulations conflict with each other. Dylan Segelbaum/The Baltimore Banner.

529 ACCOUNT HOLDERS ADVOCATE SAYS PROBLEM LIES WITH BOARD: An unofficial spokesman for account holders of Maryland 529, the state’s troubled college tuition payment fund, told the agency board Monday that its recent explanation about problems with the program to the Maryland General Assembly fell short of being completely accurate. Brian Savoie, one of more than 30,000 account holders in the Maryland Prepaid College Trust, told the board that errors in their account balances were not merely an “earnings calculation issue,” as described to lawmakers, but the result of a board-approved policy change in June 2021 to pay additional “earnings” to accounts and then a subsequent reversal. William Zorzi/Maryland Matters.

OPINION: REMOVE FELONY MURDER FROM STATE LAWS: Many people sit in Maryland prisons for decades or for their entire lives who never intended to kill. Despite our very stringent penalties for the felonies that trigger felony murder, the theory goes that if a person dies during commission of, for example, a robbery, burglary or arson, all involved in that crime should know death could happen. Premeditation and intent go out the window. With the General Assembly early in its 2023 session, there is again the opportunity to do away with this unjust provision in our laws. Margaret Martin Barry/Maryland Matters.

ABORTION TRAINING MONEY TO OPEN ACCESS: Training more nurses to be abortion providers in Maryland is now a step closer with a formal training program officially in the works, though it’s still likely months or more away. Gov. Wes Moore released the training money, which former Gov. Larry Hogan would not, as one of his first acts last week at the urging of advocates and providers. But a formal training program will take time to get running. Callan Tansill-Suddath and Meredith Cohn/ The Baltimore Banner.

OPINION: STATE NEEDS VIRGINIA-STYLE REGULATORY REFORM: It’s indisputable that implementing meaningful regulatory reform would lower the cost of doing business in the state, and this can be done without jeopardizing Marylanders‘ health and safety. Fortunately, Gov. Wes Moore need look no further than across the Potomac for a sensible approach to regulatory reform. Randolph May/Real Clear Markets.

JEWISH LEADER CALLS ON MCGOP TO CANCEL PASTOR’s TALK: A pastor with ties to a white supremacist, neo-Confederate organization the League of the South is leading a class on the Maryland Constitution hosted by the Montgomery County GOP. And a local Jewish leader said the MCGOP’s decision to host the class conducted by Pastor David Whitney is “outrageous” and called upon the party group to cancel the class. Ginny Bixby/Bethesda Beat.

GOP ACTIVIST SEEKS TO REMOVE BOOKS FROM BA CO SCHOOLS: The president of the Republican Women of Baltimore County, has rallied her network of activists and civic groups to lobby to remove the book “Gender Queer” from shelves in Baltimore County schools, which serve roughly 111,000 students. Even as system leaders have dismissed the complaints, the relatively small group of activists has expanded the scope of its objections. Sabrina LeBoeuf and Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.

OPINION: CRITICISM FAILS TO ADDRESS VALUE IN MOORE’s PLANS: Brian Griffiths of the conservative Duckpin blog continues to pound on newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Wes Moore. And most of his criticism only seems to stem from the fact that Moore is a Democrat. Jared Schablein/MarylandReporter.

B’MORE TO STOP ACCEPTING RENTAL AID APPLICATIONS: The city of Baltimore on Friday will stop accepting applications for rental assistance from people facing eviction, the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success announced Monday. The announcement comes as the city exhausts its share of an unprecedented $46 billion in emergency rental assistance funds doled out by the federal government during the pandemic and as evictions tick back up toward pre-pandemic levels. Sophie Kasakove/The Baltimore Banner.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

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:

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