FISCAL PANEL RECOMMENDS SHARP HIKE IN STATE BORROWING: A key state fiscal panel approved a sharp increase in state borrowing for the next year as fiscal leaders look for ways to offset a projected structural deficit while improving schools and aging buildings and infrastructure. The recommended $500 million increase over anticipated levels comes as Gov. Wes Moore (D) and others express concerns about the state’s fiscal future. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
HEALTH DEPT WANTS 144 CONTRACTUAL POSITIONS CONVERTED TO REGULAR: The Maryland Department of Health plans to ask the Board of Public Works next week to convert 144 contractual positions to regular ones — a move the department said won’t cost the state additional money if it also eliminates some contractual positions. Angela Roberts/The Baltimore Sun.
HEALTHIER BAY SEES RETURN OF LARGE NUMBER OF DOLPHINS: It’s only been in the past six years, since the creation of a citizen science program, that researchers have been able to study the prevalence and behavior of marine mammals in the bay. Thanks to an app created by the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science’s DolphinWatch program in 2018, some 13,000 users have logged more than 8,700 sightings. The results are astonishing, given that just a few years ago scientists believed the marine mammals only occasionally explored the bay. Julie Scharper/The Baltimore Banner.
PROBE FINDS SHA FAILED TO POST SIGNS PRIOR TO HIGHWAY WORKER DEATHS: An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of six workers in a highway work zone in March has ended with a serious violation against the State Highway Administration. Maryland’s Highway Patrol has long blamed a speeding motorist for crashing through the I-695 work zone and causing the workers deaths. However, an investigation by Maryland’s Occupational Safety and Health Department, has concluded that the SHA failed to post traffic control signs warning drivers about the work zone. Jeff Abell/WBFF-TV News.
LARGEST ‘AUTHORITY LINE’ FINE LEVIED IN CARROLL SCHOOL BOARD RACE: The largest fine in state history for a missing authority line in a political ad was announced by Maryland officials on Thursday. State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III and State Elections Administrator Jared DeMarinis announced the $20,250 fine against the “1776 Project PAC.” The organization sent more than 13,879 text messages to Carroll County voters in the 2022 Board of Education election. Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
GAS PRICES DIP DESPITE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Maryland drivers are getting a respite from high fuel costs as gas stations are posting dipping fuel prices even amid the current military conflict in the Middle East. Kristian Jaime/The Salisbury Daily Times.
ENTHUSIASM, CAUTION OVER AI POWERING GROWTH IN MARYLAND: The benefits and risks of artificial intelligence took center stage during a panel discussion at a regional technology forum last week at Anne Arundel Community College. During the Maryland Tech Council Chesapeake Regional Chapter’s Emerging Industries Forum, panelists expressed bullish enthusiasm on how AI might become a new powerful economic engine for our region. But there was also a great deal of concern about the nature of the technology itself. Matthew Liptak/Baltimore Fishbowl.
BALTIMORE CO WORK GROUP TO STUDY COUNCIL EXPANSION: The Baltimore County Council will launch a work group to study potentially expanding itself after passing a resolution at its legislative meeting Monday. Earlier this month, Councilman Izzy Patoka, a Pikesville Democrat, introduced the resolution to study potential changes to the council’s structure with the goal of “improving representation for county residents.” Lia Russell/The Baltimore Sun.
OLSZEWSKI SAYS HE WILL VETO BA CO COUNCIL’s NEW BAG BAN EXEMPTIONS: The Baltimore County Council passed amendments to a ban on the sale of plastic bags that is slated to go into effect in two weeks. County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said he will veto the three carveouts, which exempt liquor stores from the ban, allow customers to sidestep the 5-cent charge for reusable bags if they use plastic bags that match a certain level of film thickness and exempt some kinds of paper bags from the 5-cent charge. Lia Russell/The Baltimore Sun.
- Plastic bags are still allowed to be used for meat and seafood, produce, dry cleaning, bakery items, plants and flowers and to comply with food safety guidelines. And under Monday’s revisions, paper bags also could be used for those purposes. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.