MARYLAND SHORES UP ITS LIBERAL BONAFIDES: As some states push to the far right, in Maryland, where state government is controlled entirely by Democrats for the first time in eight years, lawmakers have strengthened access to reproductive health care, rewritten rules for carrying guns, raised the minimum wage and created a legal marijuana industry with an eye toward redressing historic injustices from the war on drugs — further cementing the state as a solid home for liberal policies. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
ANTI-TOLL LANE GROUP SEEKS RELEASE OF 2019 ‘BELTWAY ACCORD:’ A coalition opposed to a plan to construct toll lanes along the Capital Beltway wants a federal judge to compel the release of public documents. The Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition said the Federal Highway Administration has violated federal sunshine laws. Specifically the group is seeking records related to the “Capital Beltway Accord,” announced at a 2019 press event by then-Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and then-Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D). Lauded by Hogan as a “historic, once-in-a-generation” agreement, the document has never been released. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
NO PLAN YET TO STOCKPILE ABORTION DRUG IN MARYLAND: In the wake of a week-old Texas court decision invalidating FDA approval of mifepristone, also known as the “abortion pill,” that is set to take effect Friday, Maryland officials have not formulated a plan to preserve access to the drug. Gov. Wes Moore’s press secretary, Carter Elliott, said such a plan is coming “as soon as possible” and the administration is “exploring options” such as stockpiling mifepristone, which some other states have done. Sarah True/The Baltimore Banner.
AG BROWN’s FIRST 100 DAYS SEE LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS: In the months since Anthony Brown was sworn in as Attorney General, the state legislature has granted Brown’s office statutory authority to enforce federal and state civil rights laws and also give its Independent Investigations Division power to prosecute police-involved deaths and injuries. Those are just two pieces of legislation to receive approval as Brown marks 100 days in office on Thursday. WilliamFord/Maryland Matters.
MOORE TAPS SANJAY RAI FOR HIGHER ED CABINET POST: Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Wednesday announced that he has chosen Sanjay Rai to serve as acting secretary for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. It is the final Cabinet-level position to be filled in the new administration. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
COMMENTARY: ANNAPOLIS AWASH IN BIG LOBBYING BUCKS: Let’s talk about all the lobbying money that keeps coming into Annapolis, now seemingly at a higher rate than usual. Our new governor imagines himself a change agent, and in some obvious ways, he is. But until he is willing to confront the business-as-usual culture in Maryland politics, call us skeptical. Republicans would do well to drop the MAGA bromides and attempt to shine a light on the clubby and corrosive practices that continue to define Annapolis. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
DEL. VOGEL’s MENTAL HEALTH CARE BILL PASSES: As experts say Maryland students are facing a mental health crisis, a Rockville delegate introduced and ushered through passage a bill to help recruit and retain mental health professionals in schools. Del. Joe Vogel said, “We need to do more work in addressing the student debt burden and mental health crisis. I think this is an interesting bill that chips away at both of those issues.” Em Espey/MoCo360.
MOORE UK TRIP FOCUS IS PRIVATE INVESTMENT, PHILANTHROPY: Gov. Wes Moore’s first international trip as governor will include unspecified trade meetings and a keynote speech at forum for global philanthropists. On Friday he will meet with companies to to attract private investment in hopes of addressing social issues such as child poverty, aides said, an effort that Moore has made the cornerstone of his agenda. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
ARUNDEL GUN LITIGATION COULD HAVE NATIONAL EFFECT: After a yearlong legal battle, Anne Arundel County’s Health Department is finally enforcing a law passed in early 2022 that will require gun retailers in the area to insert government-provided pamphlets on suicide prevention and conflict resolution into ammunition and firearm packaging. However, a new legal challenge may bring the issue to a higher court and set a precedent over how far warning labels can go and what communities can do to increase public gun safety. Scott Maucione/WYPR-FM.
HOWARD PRAISED FOR LATER SCHOOL START; CRITICIZED FOR KILLING BUS SERVICE FOR3,500: When the Howard County Board of Education voted in February to push high school start times from 7:25 a.m. to 8 a.m., Centennial High School freshman Angela Huang was excited for much-needed extra sleep. That enthusiasm evaporated when Huang learned weeks later that she was one of the approximately 3,500 county students who will lose bus service next school year due to a revised transportation policy. Ethan Ehrenhaft /The Baltimore Sun.
FREDERICK SHERIFF PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO FEDERAL WEAPONS CHARGE: Frederick County Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Jenkins pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal criminal charges related to what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally acquire machine guns using official police documents. As a condition of his pretrial release, Jenkins was ordered to surrender his service weapon. He still remains leader of the agency, though a spokesperson could not be reached for comment about his service status.Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
MORGAN STATE TEARS DOWN 80-YEAR-OLD ‘SPITE WALL:’ A ‘spite wall’ built more than 80 years ago by white residents to keep the Black Morgan State College students out of the white neighborhood and shopping center directly across the street, is being torn down. Tramon Lucas/The Baltimore Banner.