PANDEMIC SNAP BENEFITS TO END FOR 360,000 MARYLAND HOUSEHOLDS: A pandemic-related boost to federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food aid is ending today, resulting in cuts that experts say could affect over 360,000 Maryland households. SNAP recipients are now bracing for what experts call “a benefits cliff” in which their funds will plummet suddenly from February to March. Brenna Smith/The Baltimore Banner.
COMMENTARY: WE MUST FILL THE FOOD INSECURITY GAP: Hundreds of thousands of our Maryland friends, family and neighbors are about to experience a major reduction in their access to food. On March 1, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is ending emergency allotments that have helped 1 in 8 Marylanders — or about 800,000 people — avoid hunger for the last three years. Families receiving these benefits are about to lose, on average, $177 a month — a reduction that is certain to lead to more hunger at a time of rising costs. Unless, that is, we come together as a community to fill the gap. Tracy Broccolino/Maryland Matters.
MOORE YANKS PSC NOMINATION OF GAS INDUSTRY OFFICIAL: Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced Tuesday that he would withdraw the nomination of a natural gas industry official to the Public Service Commission, which helps regulate the natural gas industry in the state, following intense criticism from environmental groups. Maxine Joselow/The Washington Post.
- In a statement released Tuesday morning by Moore’s office, Alvarado said he was withdrawing for “personal reasons.” But Alvarado’s nomination was controversial from the start — largely due to his association with the natural gas industry at a time when state leaders are trying to move policy away from fossil fuels. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
STATE TO USE FEDERAL FUNDS TO REIMBURSE STOLEN SNAP BENEFITS: Maryland is moving forward on a plan to implement federal funds to reimburse stolen Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP, benefits from state residents. About 3,800 known victims lost a total of $2.5 million due to a scam called electronic benefits transfer skimming, where criminals steal card and pin numbers. Scott Maucione/WYPR-FM.
BROWN URGES LAWMAKERS TO PASS THREE BILLS FOR MORE AUTHORITY: Attorney General Anthony G. Brown pressed lawmakers Tuesday for the authority to investigate and litigate instances of widespread unlawful discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and leasing of commercial property, a power he said would send a strong message to companies that bias is not tolerated in the state. Steve Lash/The Daily Record.
- In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Brown (D) advocated for three measures. One would grant the attorney general’s office authority to enforce federal and state civil rights laws and bring class-action suits; one would allow his office to investigate and initiate a civil action to stop alleged racial bias or other discriminatory practices by law enforcement and other agencies. And one would expand the ability of whistleblowers to pursue cases under Maryland’s False Claims Act and False Health Claims Act. William Ford/Maryland Matters.
NEW DANGEROUS DRUG HITS THE ILLICIT MARKET: The opioid epidemic in Maryland has entered a new and uncertain phase. Xylazine — also called “tranq” and “zombie drug” — is showing up more and more in the illicit drug supply across the state. Maryland’s newly appointed Special Secretary for Opioid Response Emily Keller said, “We are seeing a growing increase of the wounds. It’s alarming.” The drug’s telltale signs are gruesome wounds near the injection sight. Luke Garrett/WTOP-FM.
BIDEN TO ADDRESS HOUSE DEMS IN B’MORE: President Joe Biden is scheduled to address U.S. House Democrats in Baltimore today as his administration seeks to reinforce its assertion that congressional Republicans aim to put key health care programs on the chopping block. Biden will deliver an early evening keynote speech at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, a policy retreat in downtown Baltimore featuring members of the party’s House leadership, as well as fellow Democrats Gov. Wes Moore and Mayor Brandon Scott. Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.
CONGRESSMEN HOST BRAVEBOY, BATES AT CRIME MEETING: Putting a focus on violent crime was the priority for Maryland’s congressional delegation Tuesday, bringing two top prosecutors – Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and Prince George’s County Attorney Aisha Braveboy – to Washington to hear what’s needed and how they can help. Mikenzie Frost/WBFF-TV News.
MO CO BILL WOULD END POLICE STOPS FOR MINOR TRAFFIC OFFENSES: A new bill being considered in Montgomery County would prevent police officers from making stops for certain minor traffic offenses. The Safety and Traffic Equity in Policing Act, introduced Tuesday, would limit traffic stops for low-level moving violations as primary offenses, such as window tinting or defective taillights. Hugh Garbrick and Melissa Howell/WTOP-FM.
- An Office of Legislative Oversight report from 2021 showed that Black and Latino drivers are stopped for lower-level traffic violations at higher rates, like minor traffic violations, registration issues or equipment issues such as a broken headlight or taillight. Steve Bohnel/MoCo 360.
B’MORE LAUNCHES CRIME TRACKING DASHBOARD: Baltimore City on Tuesday launched a new online dashboard that aims to make it easier for residents to view crime rates, victim demographics, violence intervention areas, and other public safety data. The dashboard is meant to increase transparency and allow the public to better hold agencies accountable in their public safety efforts, city officials said. Marcus Dieterle/Baltimore Fishbowl.
LAWMAKERS CONSIDER BILLS TO HALT REALTY EXCLUSIVE CONTRACTS: A realty company that used small cash offers to lock homeowners from Maryland and other states into 40-year contracts granting it the exclusive right to list their homes for sale has temporarily stopped offering the contracts. State Del. Marlon Amprey and Sen. Antonio Hayes, both Baltimore Democrats, have introduced legislation that would prohibit exclusive listing agreements from lasting more than a year. Sophie Kasakove/The Baltimore Banner.
CITY SEEKS TO TRIPLE ARMED SECURITY CONTRACT: The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is being asked to add millions of dollars to an armed guard contract that went into effect just seven months ago. In so doing, the owner of a small Randallstown company is in line to receive a $7.87 million revised contract, $5.5 million more than the original contract. But the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation says the company is “not in good standing.” Mark Reutter/The Baltimore Brew.
SANDRA STEWART, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, DIES AT 84: Sandra B. “Sandy” Stewart — who wore many hats as a political activist and entrepreneur, and had multiple careers in nursing, medicine and government — died Feb. 11 of cancer at the Gilchrist Center Baltimore at Stadium Place. The longtime Randallstown resident was 84. Frederick Rasmussen/The Baltimore Sun.