From selecting the stories that pop up in our Facebook feeds to deciding whether we’ll get a loan, artificial intelligence algorithms make countless choices that influence our lives. Now, they’re permeating courtroom judgments. In some jurisdictions, “risk assessment” algorithms help determine sentences for those convicted of crimes. And increasingly, similar algorithms are being used in the beginning stages of the criminal justice process, where they have a hand in deciding where a person will spend their time before trial — at home or in jail.
More defendants are being held without bail, according to data from the Maryland Judiciary, because the number of defendants held without bail has increased — despite bail reform that intended to let more people remain free before trial.
Maryland’s pioneering law to restrict the sale and use of insecticides implicated in honeybee die-offs had a bumpy debut this year. Spot checks of home and garden, hardware and other stores around the state found some of them still stocking bug-killing products that should have been removed from retail shelves.
The most expensive and most controversial issue facing the new legislature — increasing the formulas for school funding — has been shelved for another year.
The House speaker and Senate president told the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education in a letter that there was not enough time for the legislature to take up both its policy changes and its funding decisions in the 90-day session that starts in three weeks.
The Trump administration announced plans Dec. 11 to severely restrict the types of streams, wetlands and other waterways that would be protected by federal regulation from development or disturbance. Though welcomed by farmers and developers, the announcement drew intense criticism from environmentalists.
“You may roll your eyes at this, but as the state tax collector I received more votes for state office than any Marylander in history,” Comptroller Peter Franchot gleefully told a sold-out BWI Business Partnership breakfast Friday morning. “And if you bump into Governor Hogan, could you tell him I happened to get 300,000 more votes than he did.”
The decision by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball to tap the brakes on the plan to demolish buildings comes amidst a broader debate over how Ellicott City can maintain its historic atmosphere and still protect itself against future disasters.
With about a month until the 2019 legislature convenes on Jan. 9, the new Democratic House of Delegates majority leader is looking to continue the progress made last session on gun violence prevention by banning 3D and ghost guns in the state. House Majority Leader Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, said she will be introducing a bill banning the possession of 3D-printed guns — plastic guns capable of shooting live ammunition and made in a 3D printer — and ghost guns — nearly complete and without serial numbers — in Maryland. Federal law already prohibits the creation of untraceable guns.
A small crew from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is making the Bay safe for boating after a summer of epic rains flushed untold amounts of debris into its waters. As of Sept. 27, DNR crews had removed 140,680 pounds of storm-related debris from navigable waters in the Bay. But the work was far from done.
The fresh crop of newly elected senators and delegates began two days of orientation at the State House Wednesday. The poster above by the Department of Legislative Services is the first compilation of the 2019 Maryland General Assembly with names, districts and photos. A printable set of photos and districts is at the bottom of the story.