State Roundup: ‘Freedom to Read Act’ would set standards for library content; House Dems push $1.2B package for education, transportation; lawmakers scramble to meet crossover day

State Roundup: ‘Freedom to Read Act’ would set standards for library content; House Dems push $1.2B package for education, transportation; lawmakers scramble to meet crossover day

As book challenges rise throughout the country, Maryland is considering passing The Freedom to Read Act, which would set guardrails in place to stop book bans. "Wooden book shelves" by Monrovia Public Library - Monrovia, California is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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STATE BILL WOULD CHALLENGE BOOK BANS: A rise in challenges to books in Maryland’s schools and public libraries — including dozens recently in Carroll County schools — has put the state on a path to becoming one of the few with guardrails on book bans. The Freedom to Read Act, which Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly are gunning to pass in the legislative session’s final weeks, would set a statewide standard for some content in libraries for the first time. Sam Janesch and Thomas Goodwin Smith/The Baltimore Sun.

HOUSE DEMS PUSH $1.2B PACKAGE FOR EDUCATION, TRANSPORTATION: Democrats in the House are pressing a nearly $1.2 billion package they say will pay for both a multi-billion expansion of education funding and a multi-billion projected shortfall in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. The package is unlikely to be warmly received in the Senate. Democrats in that chamber continue to reject any call for new gaming or broad tax increases. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

  • The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to a bill to transfer $750 million from Maryland’s toll facilities to the state Transportation Trust Fund. The vote was one of two taken Saturday on bills meant to target projected operating and transportation deficits. House Bill 1070 is part of a $1.2 billion package of toll, fee and tax increases announced by House leaders Friday. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

LAWMAKERS SCRAMBLE TO MEET CROSSOVER – TODAY: In a dash to meet Monday’s “crossover day” deadline, the state’s House of Delegates and Senate chambers have endured marathon floor sessions to advance hundreds of bills by the week’s end. The last three weeks of Maryland’s 90-day legislative session are consequential for lawmakers who aspire to send their priority legislation to Democratic Gov. Wes Moore’s desk for his consideration. Legislators scramble to push their bills to the opposite chamber by the 69th day, or crossover, day. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.

ADVOCATES SEEK TO STRIP JUVENILE JUSTICE BILL OF PUNISHMENTS: Civil rights advocates gathered in Annapolis on Thursday afternoon to call on lawmakers to strip the legislature’s intricate juvenile justice bill of its punitive measures. “This bill is not backed by evidence-based practices, it does not have the endorsement of a credible commission of experts, and it does not provide the kind of help that kids need and deserve,” Erin Seagears, an assistant public defender for Anne Arundel County, said. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.

ANOTHER LATE INTRODUCTION FOR WILD SPORTS SPENDING: The state is continues to spend wildly on sports venues that enrich private individuals and entities. But over the last few years, the funding and policy debates within the state legislature have gotten dramatically shorter, the details fuzzier, the repercussions less clear. That point was brought home last week when Gov. Wes Moore’s administration announced details of a proposed deal to bolster the horse racing industry in Maryland, and a powerful House lawmaker introduced legislation — weeks after the traditional bill introduction deadline — to codify the agreement. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

B’MORE’s GROWING MACHINE GUN PROBLEM: Machine gun conversion devices, which render semi-automatic handguns capable of unleashing bullets at a rate of more than 1,000 per minute, are cheap, oftentimes marketed as keychains online and sold for less than $30. And they are increasingly common on Baltimore’s streets. Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Banner.

POLS WEIGH IN ON ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR: Maryland politicians – including U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Senate candidate Larry Hogan and Gov. Wes Moore – weighed in on the Israeli-Hamas war over the weekend, appearing on major talk shows as concerns seem to be growing about a humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians. Jess Nocera/The Baltimore Banner.

VAN HOLLEN CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE IN GAZA, RETURN OF ALL HOSTAGES: U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen broke fast at a Thursday Iftar in Baltimore County where joy mixed with grief over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Van Hollen repeatedly called for a ceasefire in Gaza and return of all remaining hostages. Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR-FM.

HOGAN SAYS HE’d BE STATE’s ‘PRO-ISRAEL CHAMP’ IN D.C.: In the first address of his campaign for U.S. Senate, former Gov. Larry Hogan promised he would be the state’s “pro-Israel champion” in Washington and called for Hamas to immediately release the hostages still held in Gaza. Erin Cox, Katie Shepherd and Abigail Hauslohner/The Washington Post.

  • “America needs a pro-Israel champion in the United States Senate who will stand up and fight for our closest and most important ally,” Hogan told the crowd of a few dozen to loud applause. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington hosted Hogan as the first in its series of talks with candidates vying in the May 14 primary election for seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. Ginny Bixby/MoCo 360.

ALSOBROOKS SEEKS BALTIMORE VOTES: Democrat Angela Alsobrooks made a concerted play for voters at a candidates’ forum in Baltimore, which is a wild card in a U.S. Senate primary contest that includes no candidates from the city. Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.

BA CO CHARTER CHANGE WOULD ALLOW EXECUTIVE SPECIAL ELECTION: Johnny Olszewski wins his race for the second congressional district in November, there will still be two years left on his term as Baltimore County executive. County Council Chairman Izzy Patoka is considering trying to change the county charter, so there could be a special election for someone to finish Olszewski’s term. John Lee/WYPR-FM.

ANDREW CIOFALO, FOUNDER OF LOYOLA JOURNALISM PROGRAM, DIES AT 89: Andrew C. Ciofalo, a veteran newspaperman who established the journalism program at Loyola University Maryland and also directed an American study-abroad education company, died March 7 of undetermined causes at Moscow City Hospital No. 67. He was 89. The former Towson resident had lived in Russia for the last five years with his wife of many years, Dr. Olga Timofeeva, a neuroscientist. Frederick Rasmussen/The Baltimore Sun.

BOB BENJAMIN, LONGTIME SUN REPORTER, DIES AT 74: Robert Irving “Bob” Benjamin, a longtime staff member at The Sun who went into local Democratic politics in response to Donald Trump’s rise, died of complications from pancreatic cancer Feb. 28 at his Catonsville home. The once-editor of T. Rowe Price’s flagship investment publication was 74. Dan Belson/The Baltimore Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

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: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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