New Maryland system will allow 911 requests via text messages

Maryland residents who are deaf or have speech disabilities — or anyone with a reason to ask for help silently — could soon use their cellphones to send and receive 911 requests by text. The state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to approve a $2.4 million contract that will allow emergency responders across Maryland to receive and respond to 911 texts. The two-year contract with Annapolis-based TeleCommunications Systems Inc. takes effect March 1. Counties that choose to join the systems could have 911 texts operating as soon as May. (Balt. Sun)

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Hopes run high for historic Metro deals in Maryland and Virginia, but crucial details remain unresolved

Maryland Del. Maggie L. McIntosh was stunned. The veteran lawmaker, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, had just heard nearly 90 minutes of testimony in which people who typically disagree were all on the same side. Corporate executives and union leaders. Chamber of commerce presidents and environmentalists. Civic leaders from both the Washington suburbs and Baltimore. All favored giving Metro more state money. “I can’t believe there’s nobody opposing this bill,” McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) said at the end of a hearing in Annapolis last week. (Wash. Post)

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Howard County government freezes hiring

Ahead of what he has said “will not be an easy year” for the Howard County budget, County Executive Allan Kittleman has imposed a hiring freeze for non-critical government positions. Budget Director Holly Sun said it has been left up to each department head to decide which positions are considered “critical.” Each department director has also been asked to create 2 percent savings plans for the current operating budget process, Sun said. (Columbia Flier)

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State's Attorney Wes Adams announces new No. 2 attorney

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams announced his choice for the No. 2 prosecutor at his office, tapping the head of the District Court Division to fill the void left by Jonathon Church’s resignation last month. In a statement, Adams said he has chosen David P. Ash, Chief of the District Court Division, to succeed Church as the office’s Deputy State’s Attorney. Adams described him as someone committed to the office, having started work in the office in 1998 as a law clerk before working his way to overseeing the District Court Division. Ash was sworn into his new role Wednesday. (Capital)

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Several residents challenge Harford council president's remarks about climate change

Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky’s claims of a week earlier that research indicating human activity is causing global warming and other climate change is “bogus” came under sharp attack from a number of county residents Tuesday evening. On a day in mid-winter when the high temperature in Bel Air reached 70 degrees, more than a dozen people spent 45 minutes during the public comment period of the council meeting rebutting Slutzky’s comments at the previous council meeting that organizations such as the United Nations have pushed a climate change agenda as a guise to redistribute wealth from richer nations like the United States to poorer ones. (Aegis)

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Acting Baltimore police chief De Sousa says he's committed to restoring trust during confirmation hearing

They wanted to know how he would restore faith in the police department. How he would end the gun violence. How an insider of the Baltimore police could bring change to a force buffeted by scandal. But mostly, Baltimoreans shared one message Wednesday for the man who would be their next top cop: Clean up the force. “Are there bad or corrupt cops in the Baltimore Police Department? Yes, there are,” Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said at a City Council hearing Wednesday evening. “Are we taking measures right now to find out who they are? Yes.”­ (Balt. Sun)

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February 21 // Environmentalists to rally in support of Baltimore council bill banning construciton of oil terminals

Environmental groups plan to rally in front of Baltimore City Hall on Wednesday as the City Council takes up a bill that would ban the construction of crude oil terminals as part of an ongoing effort to limit the number of oil trains passing through the city. The groups say the trains are dangerous — they have derailed and exploded elsewhere — and that about 165,000 people in Baltimore would face evacuation if an accident did occur. But since only federal authorities can regulate rail transport, the city has looked for other ways to address them. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland braces for invasion of lanternflies, races to slow their spread

Mary Kay Malinoski has seen plenty of harmful insects swarm into Maryland during her long career, from the tree-eating gypsy moth, which invaded in the 1980s, to the malodorous brown marmorated stink bug, which arrived in 2006. But Malinoski, a veteran entomologist with the University of Maryland’s Agricultural Extension program, has never seen anything like the spotted lanternfly, a leaf-hopping pest that recently overran southeastern Pennsylvania — and that is poised to invade Maryland for the first time this spring. (Balt. Sun)

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