Delegate Michael Hough proposes imposing term limits on state lawmakers. A report on Maryland’s medical marijuana program. Mike Pantelides is inaugurated as Annapolis’s mayor. Weekend MARC service begins on Saturday. And much more.
Hough Proposes Term Limits, New Lobbying Restrictions: Term limits look to be a topic of debate in next year’s General Assembly session. Delegate Michael Hough, who represents parts of Frederick and Washington Counties, says he’s behind legislation that would prevent state lawmakers from serving more than three terms in the State Senate and three in the House of Delegates. The Republican Hough says that Maryland’s lack of term limits creates a “ruling class” that controls the legislative process in Annapolis. The Frederick News Post notes that it would take an amendment to the state Constitution to put term limits in place. Delegate Hough’s term limit proposal was one of several he made yesterday; another would address lobbying by former legislators – he wants to lawmakers to half wait two years after leaving the General Assembly before they can become lobbyists.
AFSCME To Ask Lawmakers To Reverse Court Decision: Maryland’s largest state workers union is calling on to the General Assembly to undo a court decision that reduces seniority protections. Last week, Maryland’s highest court ruled that when hiring starts again after a round of layoffs, state agencies are not required to offer the new jobs to previous employees in order of seniority. At least, as long as those agencies conduct a recruiting process. A legislative affairs director with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (or AFSCME) calls the decision “disappointing.” She tells the Baltimore Sun that the union will lobby Maryland lawmakers reverse the ruling. AFSCME represents about 25-thousand state workers.
Pantelides Takes Office: Mike Pantelides, the 30-year-old Republican sworn in yesterday as mayor of the heavily Democratic town of Annapolis, took office in a bipartisan and ecumenical ceremony. But, as WYPR’s Karen Hosler reports, it didn't hurt to be Greek. Pantelides says that he plans to focus on Annapolis’s finances… as well as local businesses and crime. He also called for the maritime industry to return to the city which was once dubbed "the Athens of the East.” More here from the Capital Gazette and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Why Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Law May Need Revision: Maryland’s medical marijuana law has been on the books for about two months… but even under the most optimistic scenario, no one in our state will be legally allowed to buy the drug until the year 2016. Maryland lawmakers are being petitioned to change the law… and when the General Assembly convenes in January, they’ll consider loosening restrictions, so that more people can get the drug faster. WYPR’s John Lee reports.
Autopsy In Tyrone West Case Complete: An autopsy has been completed on a man who died in Baltimore police custody earlier this year, but the medical examiner's office is not releasing any details. City Police say Tyrone West suffered a medical emergency and died after he fought with police during a traffic stop last July, but witnesses claim he was beaten. The Baltimore Sun reports that the autopsy is now complete – more than four months after West’s death. The Medical examiner’s office has declined to explain the delay. And state authorities say the results of the autopsy cannot be shared because the case remains under criminal investigation. The Baltimore City Council is set to hold a hearing on the case next week.
Kwiatkowski Sentenced: A former hospital technician who infected patients in Maryland and several other states with hepatitis C is being sentenced to 39 years in prison. While working at a number of hospitals, David Kwiatkowski injected himself with painkillers, then refilled the syringes with a saline solution that would later be used on patients. The Baltimore Sun notes that Kwiatkowski worked at 18 hospitals in seven states prior to being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011. He pleaded guilty to more than a dozen federal charges in August.
Weekend MARC Service Starts Saturday: Traveling between Baltimore and Washington, DC is about to get easier – at least, on the weekends. Starting this Saturday, the MTA's MARC trains will begin offering weekend service. There will be nine round trips on Saturdays and six on Sundays. All service will be on the Penn Line, between Penn Station in Baltimore and DC's Union Station. Ticket prices will be the same as on weekdays, and weekly and monthly passes will be honored.
Cristo Rey Ends Dreadlocks Ban: Students at Baltimore’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School will now be allowed to have dreadlocks. The college preparatory school had previously banned the hairstyle; Cristo Rey’s communications director tells the Baltimore Sun that the policy is no longer in effect.
Baltimore Farmers’ Market And Bazaar Season Nears Close: The end is near for this year's Baltimore Farmers' Market and Bazaar, but it's ending in a holiday spirit. The market will continue to operate three more Sundays through December 22nd… offering shopping opportunities including holiday foods – as well as gift items, wreaths, Christmas trees and other decorations. Once this season is over the market will remain closed until Sunday April 6th. The Baltimore News Journal has more.
Rare December Code Orange Alert In Effect: For the second day in a row, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for the Baltimore Metro area. That means air quality conditions are unhealthy for sensitive groups… today, the conditions are caused by warming temperatures and stagnant air, which is allowing fine particles to accumulate. It’s rare for a Code Orange to be declared outside the summer months… but a spokesperson for the Environment Department tells the Baltimore Sun that fine particle accumulations can happen any time. Folks in sensitive groups – including people with asthma, heart disease or lung diseases… as well as children and the elderly – should avoid strenuous outdoors activity today.