State roundup: New Sun owner bashes schools, politicians; Black Caucus targets lowering drug costs

State roundup: New Sun owner bashes schools, politicians; Black Caucus targets lowering drug costs

Gov. Wes Moore marked his first year in office Thursday. He found governing Maryland was not always a piece of cake. Governor's Office photo by Joe Anducyk

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NEW SUN OWNER BASHES CITY SCHOOLS, LOCAL POLITICIANS: New Baltimore Sun owner David D. Smith  shared opinions with his staff. He said Freddie Gray’s 2015 death and the subsequent prosecution of Baltimore Police officers left the department unwilling to do its job. Graduates of Baltimore City Schools were destined to be welfare recipients for the rest of their lives, products of an “inner city lifestyle.” And Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones are scared of what Smith’s area TV station, WBFF Fox 45, could do to them. Leo O. Sanderlin, Cody Boteler & Giacomo Bologna/The Baltimore Banner

  • The TV exec and donor to culture-war causes gets off to rough start when he tells journalists he hasn’t read The Sun in 40 years — but finds lots to criticize anyway. Elahe Izadi & Laura Wagner/The Washington Post

BLACK CAUCUS FOCUSES ON LOWERING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS: Expanding the authority of the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board is among the priorities for the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland during the 90-day session, members said Thursday. Jennifer White Holland (D-Baltimore County), who announced the caucus’ agenda during a press conference, said the proposed legislation will be called the Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for All Marylanders Act. William J. Ford/Maryland Matters

BLACK LAWMAKERS WANT NO CHANGE IN JUVENILE INTERROGATION: Black legislators said they want to defend the Child Interrogation Protection Act, which requires juveniles in custody be allowed to consult with an attorney before law enforcement can question them. It also requires a parent or guardian to be notified before questioning in custody. Prosecutors have beat the drum against the law ever since, saying it hampers criminal investigations. “We will defend that legislation during this session, and make sure that the core piece of it, which is ensuring that access (for) children for their constitutional and foundational rights, is protected,” Del. Jheanelle Wilkins, D- Montgomery, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus,  said at a press briefing Thursday. Matt Bush/WYPR

MOORE CREATES NEW OFFICE FOR CHILDREN: Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order Thursday establishing an office that aims to invest in the lives of Maryland’s children in an effort to reduce the factors that lead to juvenile crime. “We must hold our children accountable if they break or violate the law,” Moore, a Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Annapolis. “But we also need to hold ourselves accountable for all of our children’s well-being.” Hannah Gaskill/The Sun

REPORT SAYS DRUG COMPANIES SPEND MORE ON ADS AND EXEC SALARIES THAN RESEARCH: A new report from a progressive advocacy organization and think tank argues that drug manufacturers often spend more on advertising and executives’ salaries than they do research. Profit Over People — a study by Public Citizen — comes as many Marylanders struggle to afford necessary prescription drugs and as health advocates argue that some medication prices are artificially high. Local health care advocates believe the report supports their call to expand the authority of a state board that aims to lower drug costs for Marylanders. Danielle J. Brown/Maryland Matters

COMMENTARY: THE EQUITIES OF SCHOOL CHOICE: Possibly the most important issue facing the Maryland General Assembly this year and every year is how to improve the pervasive problems with our state system of education. Each year we seem to fall further and further behind and drift further and further away from doing what works. The Public Education System of Maryland is plagued by two wrongs that prevent it from improving. The first is the public education monopoly and the efforts of the teachers’ unions and the legislature to keep it that way. The second is our inexplicable refusal to redress the glaring socioeconomic inequity that this system creates. Trent Kittleman/Maryland Reporter

COMMENTARY: WHY TRANSPORTATION MATTERS FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM: I received my autism diagnosis at the age of three and have since devoted a substantial part of my life to adapting to my disability while advocating for others facing similar challenges. In recent weeks, I met with several delegates at the Maryland General Assembly regarding a proposed transportation program for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Unfortunately, these delegates expressed that the implementation of such a program is currently deemed unfeasible given the current fiscal climate. Jorge Tirigall/Maryland Reporter

BOWIE GETS FIRST BLACK POLICE CHIEF:  Prince George’s largest town has celebrated yet another historic milestone with the swearing in of Dwayne Preston as the first Black police chief in Bowie’s history. Preston, a veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department, served as the acting chief from September until Jan. 2. He is only the third chief since the Bowie Police Department was founded in 2006. Richard Elliott/Washington Informer

U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES LGBTQ+ MARYLANDER FOR APPEALS COURT: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines Thursday to approve the nomination of Nicole G. Berner, a labor lawyer from Takoma Park in Montgomery County, to the federal appeals court overseeing Maryland cases. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first openly LGBTQ+ judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a White House release when she was appointed in November. Jeff Barker, the Sun in the Frederick News-Post

HOUSING STOCK IN ALLEGANY COUNTY: Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman said Allegany County will benefit from having an updated housing stock as it is a critical component of attracting people to the area. Lierman spoke at a meeting of Western Maryland officials in Annapolis. “The lower cost of living in Mountain Maryland as opposed to other places in the state will attract people,” Lierman told the Cumberland Times-News. “There will be challenges. There are housing stock shortages and transportation challenges, so we need to make sure we are thinking strategically on how to address those.” Greg Larry/Cumberland Times-News

WORK ZONE SAFETY BILL INTRODUCED: Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller introduced legislation Thursday to enhance highway worker safety. According to officials, in 2023, Maryland drivers crashed into more than 1,200 work zones, including the deadliest collision in Maryland history, a crash on the Baltimore Beltway that killed six construction workers.In response, Miller chaired the Work Zone Safety Work Group, which released its recommendations, concluding that a culture change is needed among drivers. Dave Collins/WBAL TV

BALT. MAYOR RESPONDS TO CRITICISM: Mayor Brandon Scott’s campaign responded to criticism from elected officials who have endorsed his opponent for reelection, ex-mayor Sheila Dixon. Dan Rodricks/The Sun

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