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WYPR News

News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Brendan Reynolds

Advocates for death with dignity bills—one in the House and one in the Senate--launched a renewed drive in Annapolis Wednesday, optimistic their bills will pass this year.

The bills, which would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, died in the face of stiff opposition during the last two General Assembly sessions. But Kim Callinan, chief program officer for Compassion and Choices, the group backing the bills, said polls show that a majority of Marylanders favor the bill.

A ship that sailed to the beaches of Iwo Jima during World War II and rescued seven people during one of the world’s largest-ever recorded storms will soon sit at the bottom of the Atlantic, a couple dozen miles off the coast of Delaware and Maryland. 

 


 

Rachel Baye

The Maryland Senate delayed a vote Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill requiring the state to increase its use of renewable energy. Senate Republicans asked to delay the vote until next week, citing new information from the state Public Service Commission.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Prince George’s County Del. Joseph Vallario lead the powerful judiciary committees in the Senate and House, respectively.

They also received more campaign contributions from the bail bonds industry than any other Maryland lawmakers since 2011, according to a report released Wednesday by Common Cause Maryland, which advocates for campaign finance reform and transparency in government. In fact, the report says, they received more money from the industry than nearly all other state-level candidates in the country.

Flickr-Creative Commons

Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in July closes an estimated $544 million revenue shortfall and ends with a balanced budget. The Republican executive, a proud fiscal conservative, touted this achievement when he announced his budget last week.

But Warren Deschenaux, the state’s top policy analyst, warned a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation committees that state spending is likely to outpace revenues by more than $300 million in the following fiscal year, not counting a few tax cuts Hogan has proposed. And the deficit is likely to grow to more than $1 billion four years later.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told a panel of Baltimore City representatives in the House of Delegates on Friday that the state’s cash bail system is likely unconstitutional.

Rachel Baye

With proposals from both parties in Annapolis, many state lawmakers are predicting that this is the year the state requires businesses to offer employees paid sick leave.

On one side, Democratic legislators have proposed various versions of a sick leave requirement for five consecutive years. For the first time this year, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan promises to introduce his own version of the concept.

Joel McCord and John Lee, of the WYPR News team, examine the early start in the race for Baltimore County Executive and for funds to run the campaigns.

Taking on Trump in Baltimore County classrooms

Jan 20, 2017
John Lee

It was the day before the inauguration of Donald Trump, and students in Sandra Skordalos’s 12th grade A-P government class were debating the President-elect’s actions. These students at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Dundalk were not giving Trump an easy time.

Yara Daraiseh scoffed at Trump for not understanding the Presidency, treating it as though he will be the CEO calling all of the shots.

"But when you’re a president of a democratic government … you don’t have all the power," she said.

Rachel Baye

When Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted parts of his proposed budget on Tuesday, he said it seemed too good to be true. He said he closed a $544-million revenue shortfall with “no serious cuts.” But the budget released Wednesday did reveal some cuts, including the elimination of much of a $290-million package passed last year in an effort to revitalize Baltimore.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan gave legislative leaders a preview of his budget Tuesday morning at a breakfast meeting.

Though the Republican executive didn’t release any budget documents, he promised a smaller overall budget with no tax increases and no major spending cuts. He said the budget would maintain level funding for most services and increase spending on public schools, as required by state law.

A renewed push for medical marijuana

Jan 17, 2017
Hannah Klarner/Capital News Service

Maryland’s General Assembly returned to Annapolis last week with a number of issues hanging over from previous legislative sessions. Among them is fixing a medical marijuana program that remains mired in controversy more than two years after it was created and has yet to get off the ground.

Cheryl Glenn, leader of the Legislative Black Caucus and co-author of the bill that created the program, says African Americans are being cut out of that fledgling industry and has vowed changes to get things moving. After all, she says, it could have saved her mother, Natalie M. La Prade, from a lot of pain from kidney cancer in the last months of her life. 

Flickr Creative Commons // Elvert Barnes

Jake Naquin, a 10th grader at Bard High School Early College in West Baltimore, was waiting at Harford Road and The Alameda for a bus home to Hamilton one day last November when  three teenagers came up to him.

“Basically me and two of my friends were at the stop,” he explained. “They asked us what school we went to.  And we answered. “

So, Jake and his friends, unnerved, headed for another bus stop. They got about half-way there when the same group stopped them and demanded his phone. He says he thought they were joking.

DOJ v. FOP

Jan 13, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Shortly after the Justice Department and Baltimore City officials announced they’d reached a legal contract to reform the city police department Thursday the police union complained they were left out of the negotiations.

But Friday a DOJ spokesperson contradicted those claims.

Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's State House reporter, discuss the sharply partisan exchanges between Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday a series of measures aimed at assisting crime victims and their families.

One of the proposals would allow prosecutors of sex crimes to use as evidence a suspect’s previous sexual assault convictions.

Baltimore, Feds agree to consent decree

Jan 12, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the full consent decree below.

Baltimore City and federal officials announced Thursday an agreement that will force the Baltimore Police Department to reform. The decree comes six months after a scathing Justice Department report found that city police routinely violated citizens’ rights; especially of African-Americans.

The consent decree is the product of a civil rights investigation into the police department after the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered severe injuries while being transported in a police van.

Details of the consent decree were made public as a news conference was taking place announcing the agreement.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland General Assembly kicked off the 2017 session at noon Wednesday. But while speaking with WEAA’s Marc Steiner just a few hours earlier at an event hosted by The Daily Record, Senate President Mike Miller offered a prediction on a topic expected to be controversial during the session: whether legislators will ban hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas extraction method better known as fracking.

Baltimore County

Maryland’s General Assembly returns to Annapolis Wednesday, and Baltimore County lawmakers are arriving with a wish list.

Any legislator you talk to will tell you numero uno for Baltimore County in this session is money for schools. Same goes for County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. He plans to have all county schools air conditioned in a couple of years and wants more state money to help with that.

Rachel Baye

A group of 59 local and state elected officials, including 21 members of the General Assembly, have signed a letter urging Gov. Larry Hogan and state legislators to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

P. Kenneth Burns

Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore City’s police union, planned to respond to comments made recently by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis about staffing issues in the department and contract negotiations.

But the union tweeted Sunday evening that the news conference scheduled for Monday will be postponed “due to unforseen (sic) circumstances.”  And that it will be rescheduled.

Fraser Smith and John Lee, of the WYPR reporting team, talk about the upcoming review of Baltimore County's charter and what that could mean for county residents.

Searching for ghost pots in the Chesapeake

Jan 6, 2017
Pamela D'Angelo

Every year, Chesapeake Bay watermen toss about 600,000 pots overboard to catch one of our favorite delicacies – the blue crab. But inevitably, some of those crab pots disappear. They become "ghost pots," killing millions of crabs and other marine species trapped inside.

It’s estimated there are about 145,000 ghost pots bay-wide. Some 58,000 are lost in Maryland and 87,000 in Virginia. Laid end to end, they'd stretch 53 miles. That’s from Havre de Grace to Tilghman Island in Maryland or from the mouth of the Potomac River to the mouth of the Bay in Virginia.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers are gearing up for a fight over a bill requiring the state to generate more electricity from renewable sources.

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, of the Baltimore Sun's editorial board, talk about how Gov. Larry Hogan reacts to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

A new report from the state attorney general’s office found roughly 3,700 untested sexual assault evidence kits dating back as far as 1981. The Baltimore City Police has the second-highest number of untested kits of any law enforcement agency in the state, with 871 through 2016.

The report released Tuesday recommends several changes to how police handle the evidence collected from sexual assault victims statewide.

P. Kenneth Burns

A man whose murder conviction was recently vacated after his story was at the center of a popular podcast will remain jailed while he awaits a new trial.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch on Wednesday denied Adnan Syed's request to be released from jail primarily because there is a pending appeal from the prosecutor's office.

The Southwest Partnership's seven neighborhoods sail into the New Year on a tide of careful planning, the involvement of a major state  hospital and a cadre of hyper active neighbors working together.

Graziano turns in “very nice” resignation

Dec 20, 2016

Long-time Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano is leaving after 16 years on the job.

Graziano submitted his resignation to Mayor Catherine Pugh; who accepted it Tuesday.  The mayor said it was a “very nice letter.”

Graziano’s last day as housing commissioner will be January 6.  He will receive $116, 524; the amount of unused vacation and personal days.  Pugh said Deputy Commissioner Michael Braverman will be interim housing commissioner as she conducts a nationwide search to replace him.

John Lee

They may not be as obvious as their counterparts in the city, but there are hundreds of homeless people in Baltimore County. Some may be in shelters, but many of them are out of sight, camping in the woods.

On a Monday morning, Wade Pratt and Charlene Gaskins were getting ready to head out to visit one of those camps. Pratt opened the trunk of his car that was chock full of coats, sweatpants, toiletries, granola bars, water, hats and scarves.

"I really wish we’d gotten a van," he said.

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