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News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan signed more than 100 bills into law Tuesday morning at a ceremony with House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller.

As the Maryland General Assembly’s annual 90-day session hurtled toward midnight Monday night, the legislature ran out the clock on a bill aimed at giving licenses to grow medical marijuana to minority-owned businesses.

AP Photo/Tony Avelar

One of the most intriguing questions of the NFL offseason has been is Colin Kaepernick being blackballed?

For most of the first six years of his career, Kaepernick was the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

Baltimore football fans should remember that it was Kaepernick that got the Niners to within a drive of tying or winning the 2012 Super Bowl against the Ravens.

In the following season, Kaepernick helped lead San Francisco to the NFC championship game and a narrow loss to Seattle.

Kaepernick not only possesses a strong arm, but, at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he has a frame that makes him a dual threat, namely a quarterback who can run.

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As the General Assembly hurdles toward Monday night’s deadline, one measure that still hangs in the balance would increase the number of business that can get licenses to grow medical marijuana. The bill aims to give more minority-owned businesses a shot at growing or processing the drug.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The General Assembly's 2017 legislative session ends at midnight Monday night. WYPR News Director Joel McCord spoke with reporter Rachel Baye about what has already become law and what still hangs in the balance.

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State Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, who represents northwest Baltimore, was charged in U.S. District Court Friday of accepting cash in exchange for advancing a development project in the city.

MD Manual

U.S. District Judge James Bredar approved Friday a police reform agreement negotiated between Baltimore City and the U.S. Justice Department, despite Trump administration requests to hold off on that approval.

Bredar’s ruling came only a day after an hours-long hearing in which Justice Department lawyers asked for a 30-day delay to re-evaluate the agreement finalized in the last days of the Obama administration. 

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This is Del. Sandy Rosenberg’s 35th year representing northwest Baltimore in the House of Delegates, and it’s the third time in those 35 years that the first night of Passover, when Jewish families traditionally gather for the ritual Seder, has fallen on Sine Die, the last night of the Maryland General Assembly session. The last time was in 1990.

“So as we say, why is this Sine Die different from all other Sine Dies?” Rosenberg said.

Fraser Smith, WYPR's retiring senior news analyst, joins news director Joel McCord to thank those who joined him on this segment over the years.

John Lee

Baltimore County could be on a collision course with the Trump administration over immigrants living in the county illegally. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz signed an executive order yesterday to protect those immigrants.

Before he signed the order, Kamenetz pointed out he was joined in the old County Courthouse by Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, African-Americans and members of the LGBT community.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is what Baltimore County looks like,” he said.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit internet service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, from selling consumers’ private information. The measure would reverse the effects in the state of a congressional resolution President Donald Trump signed Monday.

Hogan Vetoes the Protect Our Schools Act

Apr 5, 2017

Gov. Larry Hogan used a visit to a Baltimore charter school today to make good on his promise to veto an education reform bill passed by the General Assembly.  

Hundreds of students filed into the auditorium of the charter school, Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, to watch Governor Hogan wield the veto pen at a school assembly.

"We’re proud to stand with you by vetoing this legislation right now," said Hogan. "And then I’m going to personally hand carry it right back to the General Assembly this afternoon."

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan has withdrawn his nominee to lead the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dennis Schrader.  But Schrader will continue to serve as the department’s acting secretary without Senate confirmation.

Christopher Paulin/flickr

There’s an old trick among sports executives and marketers that if your team is devoid of talent or hope for the coming season, you instead play up anniversaries or even facilities.

We’ll have an interesting indication of how good the Orioles brass think the team will be this year if they push the 25th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Sprint to the finish

Mar 31, 2017

Joel McCord and WYPR's Rachel Baye look at the rush of bills the General Assembly has sent to Gov. Larry Hogan's desk just in time for an override vote in case he vetoes any of them.

John Lee

When Glenn Elseroad drives you around his 500 acre farm in Western Baltimore County, the first thing he shows you are the 7,000 trees he’s planted. Then there are the cover crops planted in the winter.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate gives state Attorney General Brian Frosh up to $1 million to hire five attorneys to help his office challenge federal policy. The measure, which already passed the House, is a direct response to executive actions taken by President Donald Trump.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State legislation barring local and state police from looking into residents’ immigration status faces tough odds in the Maryland Senate.

Maryland State Archives

Stanley Andrisse is an endocrinology post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. He’s also a convicted felon.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The General Assembly passed the state’s $43-billion budget Tuesday, with a little less than two weeks to go before the legislature’s 90-day session ends.

The final budget includes nearly $30 million to help Baltimore City Public Schools fill its own budget hole.

Rachel Baye

“Ta da!”

Senate President Mike Miller opened debate Monday on a bill banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, with gusto.

The Senate’s debate and subsequent approval of the ban came just over a week after Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement that he supports banning the controversial drilling practice.

Don Shomette

Commercial watermen who fish the Potomac River were shocked and angry last week when the Maryland-Virginia authority that regulates them did nothing about federal plans for a marine sanctuary at Mallows Bay.

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission could not agree on limits to the sanctuary, which watermen fear could extend to where they set nets for blue catfish, tong for oysters and trap crabs.

Seabamirum/flickr

If you’re a woman and you can handle a hockey stick, don’t wander far from your phone. You just might be getting a call to play for your country.

The women’s world championships, the international competition just below the Olympics in terms of prestige, takes place starting Thursday in Plymouth, Michigan.

The United States team, which has won the world championship seven times and won five Olympic medals over the last 17 years, should be a heavy favorite to do well in this year’s championships.

That is, if USA Hockey, the governing body for international hockey in this country, can find enough talented players to play.

Rachel Baye

Democrats in the General Assembly announced Friday a package of bills aimed at curbing Maryland’s opioid addiction crisis.

The legislation focuses on expanding access to treatment and educating students about the hazards of the drugs beginning in the third grade. It increases funding for health providers, expands substance-abuse treatment programs in prisons and establishes crisis treatment centers across the state.

Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's state government reporter, talk about Maryland Democrats' efforts to capitalize on public sentiment for redistricting reform. And about how it's going nowhere.

Rachel Baye

Democrats in the General Assembly and environmental activists called Thursday for Gov. Larry Hogan to challenge President Donald Trump’s proposed $73 million cut eliminating the Chesapeake Bay Program. During Thursday's floor session, the legislators introduced a resolution criticizing the cuts and directing Hogan to act.

Rachel Baye

Seventeen-year-old Julia Francis was playing pinball with her older brother A.J. Francis at Crabtowne USA in Glen Burnie.

“I’m just trying to prove myself better than this guy,” said Julia, a junior at nearby Old Mill High School.

“Never happens,” her brother, a defensive lineman for the Washington Redskins, said from one pinball machine over. “I’m always the one that comes out on top, even when it comes to pinball. Mainly because I’ve been playing for a decade longer.”

The siblings were surprised to learn about a Maryland law that prohibits minors from playing pinball in public places in certain parts of the state.

Flickr: Maryland GovPics

Democrats in the state Senate are offering a plan that would create an independent commission to redraw Maryland’s congressional districts if five other states in the region agree to do the same. The bill was voted out of committee just as Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed redistricting reform bill died.

Photo by K. Whiteford

Monday was a busy day in Annapolis, where state lawmakers hurried to meet a legislative deadline. Any bills not passed by either the state Senate or the House of Delegates by the end of the day have to go through the Rules Committee before they can continue on. WYPR’s Rachel Baye joins Nathan Sterner to talk about what bills made the cut and what will face additional hurdles.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill prohibiting state and local police from enforcing federal immigration law.

The bill prevents state and local police from inquiring about immigration status during a traffic stop or an unrelated arrest. It also prohibits state and local corrections officers from holding someone based on what’s known as a “detainer,” a request by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents to keep someone without a warrant while they look into his or her immigration status.

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