Governor Martin O’Malley is set to sign more than 100 bills into law today, including one that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Groups call on O’Malley to veto bills that would expand Sunday hunting. Plus, a profile Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Heather Mizeur, the latest installment in our “Ghana At A Glance” series, and more.
A Bill-Signing Ceremony: The 2014 General Assembly session ended less than a week ago… and in Annapolis today, Governor Martin O’Malley is set to sign more than 100 bills passed during it into law. One of them is a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana; the law would take effect on October 1st. Also set to get the Governor’s pen is a bill expanding Maryland’s medical marijuana program, and another that imposes harsher penalties for drivers who cause accidents while using their cell phones. Other bills to be signed into law would offer victims of domestic violence stronger protections, and increase penalties for people convicted of domestic violence in the presence of children. Today’s bill-signing ceremony takes place at 10:30am, and will be streamed online on the state’s website. There’s more here from WJZ.
Sunday Hunting: Two bills not expected to get the governor’s signature today would allow hunting to take place on Sundays on public and private lands… and groups including the Maryland Ornithological Society and the Maryland Horse Council are urging the governor to veto those bills. The groups argue that hikers, birdwatchers, horseback riders, and others who spend time outdoors deserve one day a week without the noise and potential dangers associated with hunting. The bills have the backing of the Department of Natural Resources, which says expanding hunting to Sundays could help curb the population of white-tailed deer, which poses a threat to forest ecosystems. Governor O’Malley’s press secretary tells the Baltimore Sun that O’Malley hasn’t decided whether to sign the bills, and that he’ll “closely review” them before reaching a conclusion. After today, there are two more bill-signing ceremonies set for May.
Mizeur Says Maryland Is Ready To Elect Her As Governor: Heather Mizeur wants to be Maryland’s next governor. And she believes the state is ready to elect someone with her more liberal views on issues like legalizing marijuana and providing paid family leave. The two-term delegate from Takoma Park is confident she can pull off the surprise, and win the Democratic Party’s nomination in June. WYPR’s John Lee has this profile.
Where Bail Review Stands, Post-General Assembly: Negotiations over how to deal with a Court of Appeals decision mandating representation at all bail hearings went deep into this legislative session. WYPR's Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record talk about the patchwork solution reached by state lawmakers. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Ghana At A Glance: Religion In Public Schools The majority of people in the West African country of Ghana are Christians, but the nation is also home to a large Muslim community. Ghana’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but some question whether the Christian faith is favored in the country’s public schools. In this installment of her Ghana at a Glance series, WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn takes a look at religion in public schools.
Cardin To Speak With MD Ukrainian American Community: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin will hold a round-table discussion in Baltimore today with representatives of the state's Ukrainian American community. Cardin is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He says he’ll use today’s event to share the latest information on the U.S.'s and international community's response to the crisis in Ukraine, including the continued hostility by Russia. Senator Cardin will be hearing directly from Ukrainian American clergy, local leaders and advocacy organizations about their experiences and concerns. The meeting’s set for 11am at the SelfReliance Baltimore Federal Credit Union on Eastern Avenue.
Cummings Praises Sibelius: Congressman Elijah Cummings says he has nothing but praise for the former Health and Human Services secretary. The 7th District Democrat told CBS' Face The Nation that Kathleen Sebelius accomplished all her goals in five years. He also urged fellow Democrats to focus on the Affordable Care Act, and how it's helped people. Sebelius resigned Friday after a five-year term. Many blamed her for the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act's website.
Baltimore Schools’ Budget: Baltimore school officials are looking to find a way to balance the system’s budget without cutting into a rainy-day fund or eliminating positions in the central office. According to the Baltimore Sun, next year's school budget could face a $31-million deficit. School programs are among the many budget items in line for cutbacks. The Baltimore Sun reports that the city's school board has asked for the budget to find alternative cuts.
Layoffs At Loyola: Loyola University Maryland is laying off 15 employees and eliminating 22 vacant positions due to budget constraints. School officials say no faculty positions were cut at the Jesuit Catholic university. The Baltimore Sun notes that officials did not say which staff and administration positions are being eliminated – notices are set to go out tomorrow. The laid off employees will get a severance package and be offered outplacement services.
Palm Sunday Prayers: Tens-of-thousands of Catholics in Baltimore are getting ready to celebrate Holy Week. A collection of Baltimore-area churches gathered at City Hall to pray for the city yesterday on Palm Sunday. Prayers were sent out to the city's homeless, unemployed and poverty-stricken. It's the eleventh straight year for the Palm Sunday get-together. Easter is this coming Sunday. The Baltimore Sun has more.
“Manure Happens”: The Maryland Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to recycle the manure their farms generate, instead of buying commercial fertilizer products. The Agriculture Department has launched a website it’s calling “Manure Happens” to help farmers do it… and as the Frederick News Post reports, that can be tricky, as farmers can only use manure in certain amounts as established by the state’s nutrient management program, which requires measurements of phosphorus and micronutrient in the soil before determining how much manure can be added. Frederick County farmers say they welcome the new resource.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles fell 11 to 3 to the Toronto Blue Jays in yesterday’s game. The O’s welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Camden Yards tonight; first pitch is set for 7:05pm.