Thu February 6, 2014
Power Outages And School Schedule Changes, Issues In The General Assembly, and More
Significant power outages persist across Maryland this morning, closing schools in Carroll and Harford counties, and prompting 2-hour delays for Baltimore County's Hereford Zone schools and schools in Frederick county. More on schedule changes, plus this morning's top local headlines...
Significant power outages persist across Maryland this morning, following yesterday’s ice storm.
As of 7:30am, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency reports that more than 76-thousand homes and businesses are still in the dark. The outages mean
In Baltimore County, the Hereford Zone schools are on a 2-hour delay. And power outages have closed a number of individual schools, including: Sparks Elementary, Powhatan Elementary, Reisterstown Elementary, Fifth District Elementary, Hampton Elementary, Hereford Middle, Millbrook Elementary, Old Court Middle, Pikesville High, Riderwood Elementary, and Warren Elementary.
Frederick County schools are also on a 2-hour delay. And power outages will keep several schools closed, including: Lewistown Elementary, Middletown Primary and Windsor Knolls Middle.
And in Washington County, Pleasant Valley Elementary School is closed.
BGE's map of outages is here; call 877-778-2222 to report an outage to BGE.
An outage map for the counties served by FirstEnergy Corp in Western MD is here; to report an outage to FirstEnergy, the number is 888-544-4877.
Time Will Tell If Leaders Are Serious About Early Childhood Education: Early childhood education may be seen as a new idea in some quarters. But here in Maryland, the value of early childhood education has been recognized – and promoted – for many years. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.
Dog Bite Fight Returns To Annapolis: The State Senate’s Judiciary Committee will take up a bill today that could settle a metaphorical dog fight that’s been waged in the General Assembly for two years. As WYPR’s Christopher Connelly reports, the question is over how the state’s laws should assign liability blame when a dog bites.
Health Exchange Website Hearings To Resume: Maryland lawmakers plan to restart briefings about the state's troubled health exchange website. The Washington Post says lawmakers had originally planned not to discuss the issue until the regularly scheduled state audit of the exchange. However, instead of waiting until this summer to answer any questions, an update on the website's status and plans for moving forward will be addressed next week. The Baltimore Sun has more here.
Busch Creates Marijuana “Work Group”: House Speaker Michael Busch is creating a “work group” to examine legislative proposals on marijuana, and decide a path forward for this year’s legislative session. The Washington Post notes that a similar group was used in the House last year, as lawmakers worked to overhaul Maryland’s gun laws. There are several marijuana related bills going before lawmakers this session, including a bill that would alter existing medical marijuana legislation, a bill that would decriminalize the possession of the drug, and one that would legalize and tax it. Speaker Busch says he doesn’t think that last bill will pass this session, but says a decriminalization proposal is somewhat more likely to move forward. Last year, the State Senate passed legislation that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, but that bill died in the House.
Bill Banning 190-Proof Alcohol Advances: Maryland is a step closer to banning the sale of grain alcohol. The State Senate yesterday voted to outlaw the sale of 190-proof alcohol – that’s alcohol that’s 95 percent pure. Lawmakers in favor of the measure say that the powerful booze contributes to the culture of binge drinking, especially among college students. The measure now moves to the House, where similar legislation has died twice before. If the bill becomes law, the sale of 190-proof alcohol would be punishable by a fine of up to $1-thousand. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun, more here from the Frederick News Post, and more here from the Annapolis Capital.
Dwyer Proposes Bills Aimed At Lawmakers Convicted Of Drunk Driving: Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer is trying to crack down on lawmakers who drive while drunk. Dwyer himself is serving 30 weekends in jail for drunken boating and drunken driving convictions. And the delegate now says: "Jail time should be mandatory for any elected official convicted of drunk driving." Dwyer is proposing legislation that would require any lawmaker with such a conviction to go to prison for 60 days and undergo a 28-day in-patient rehab program. He’s also backing a constitutional amendment that would suspend any lawmaker serving jail time. The Annapolis Capital reports that it’s unclear whether either proposal will get a hearing.
Leopold Pushes To Have Conviction Overturned: Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold is trying to have his misconduct conviction overturned. An attorney for Leopold went before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals yesterday, arguing that Leopold's actions did not rise to the level of a crime. Leopold was found guilty last year of two counts of misconduct for directing county employees to perform personal tasks. While serving probation for those convictions, Leopold has been banned from running for public office; he’s hoping that ban will be overturned as well, and is reportedly eyeing a seat in the House of Delegates. There’s more here from the Annapolis Capital and here from the Washington Post.
Rawlings-Blake Pushes For “Taxi Tax” Changes: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is looking to make changes to the city’s so-called “taxi tax.” She’s backing legislation that would change the tax from its current 25-cents per passenger to 35-cents per trip. The Baltimore Sun notes that the original tax was supposed to take effect back in October, but many taxi operators refused to pay it, many complaining about the difficulties of imposing a per-passenger tax. If the Mayor’s proposal is approved, the new version of the taxi tax would also affect new services like Lyft and Uber, and would set a $1.50 per trip charge for limousine and for-hire sedan services.
January Casino Revenue: Maryland's four casinos took in $66-million during the month of January. That's the third lowest total since the Rocky Gap Casino Resort opened in May. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency says, however, that the results were up 43-percent over January of 2013 before table games were added. The Baltimore Sun has more here.