Ken Fitch: State lawmakers must remember that employees matter

January 2019 held a lot of fear for me and many other Maryland State Retirees. This is when all state retirees who are disabled or over 65 would have had to go onto Medicare Part D. In 2011, State of Maryland passed a law eliminating prescription drug coverage in 2019. The problem was they didn’t tell anyone (especially the state retirees) until seven years later. To combat the removal to Medicare Part D, I created a Facebook page called, We Matter RXdrug Coverage. It chronicled my efforts to deal with this injustice. I contacted every lawmaker in the General Assembly requesting a special session. I attended town hall meetings, senior center meetings, and campaign events to bring this issue to the forefront. (Capital)

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Josh Kurtz: Two Cool Cats

To say there are stylistic differences between the new county executives of the state’s two largest jurisdictions – neighbors that border Washington, D.C. – would be the understatement of the decade. And yet, it was instructive to watch Alsobrooks, 47, and Elrich, 69, in their maiden voyages to the State House as county executives, marking the first day of the 2019 General Assembly session. As is so often the case for leaders of Prince George’s County, an Annapolis session is an exercise in the search for money and respect. Prince George’s never feels like it’s getting a fair shake from the state, and politicians there are painfully aware of the relative abundance of its neighbors – and of the assistance the state routinely gives to Baltimore City. (Md. Matters)

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Ron Cerniglia: Strengthen Maryland’s Energy Supplier Market, Not Stifle It

In recent weeks, two reports have been released about the retail energy supplier industry in Maryland. These reports contain a number of inaccuracies and fail to paint the true picture of energy choice in Maryland. Both reports are based on a false comparison between utilities and competitive suppliers, as opposed to taking a more comprehensive look at the many benefits to all residential, commercial, and industrial consumers that have been created since the competitive retail energy market opened in Maryland nearly 20 years ago. By focusing almost exclusively on pricing, both studies — one conducted by the Abell Foundation and the other for the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel — fall short of providing a more robust assessment of the benefits of the competitive market. (Md. Matters)

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Carbon diet woes

The latest uptick in U.S. carbon emissions is not unlike the post-holiday weight gain: It demonstrates the challenge of correcting longstanding bad behaviors. In this case, it’s the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and a product of a growing economy, which means more travel, more consumption, more manufacturing and so on. A report published Tuesday by Rhodium Group estimates that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States rose by 3.4 percent over the past year. (Balt. Sun) 

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Black women deserve better. Will 2019 be the year of change?

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” So said Malcolm X in 1962. And in the decades since, those words have continued to resonate: a rallying cry for black women who felt sidelined in the fight for civil rights, ignored during the feminist awakening and discounted even as their protests against police violence have earned that movement new attention. (Wash. Post)

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Pugh makes a bold move in picking a new police commissioner — and her political fate rests on the outcome

If Mayor Catherine Pugh’s political fortunes weren’t already tied to her selection of Baltimore’s next police commissioner, they definitely are now after she ignored widespread calls to engage in a more transparent, inclusive process once her first choice, Fort Worth Chief Joel Fitzgerald, backed out to attend to family health concerns. Instead of announcing the process for making a new choice, she simply named New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael S. Harrison as her nominee. It’s a bold move that could either become a lasting symbol of her decisive leadership or the choice that fatally weakens her administration. We certainly hope it’s the former, not for her sake but for the city’s. (Balt. Sun)

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Mike Tidwell: Will Hogan join ‘super majorities’ in the legislature to back clean energy bill?

The biggest environmental bill of the 2019 legislative session is, hands down, the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act. With dire warnings on global warming coming from scientists every day — bigger storms, rising seas, failing crops — it’s good to know this bill would double our state’s commitment to wind and solar power by the year 2030. It would also create a process to get us to 100 percent clean power soon after 2030. Political support for this clean energy legislation has been rising across Maryland right along with the warming temperatures. (Daily Record)

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E.R. Shipp: No one should lose their home over an unpaid water bill in Baltimore

There is so much to be outraged about these days. Start with the city’s bumpy road to hiring a new police commissioner. Then there’s the government shutdown with no end in sight as thousands of federal employees go unpaid and many of the rest of us are inconvenienced. Let me add something else: Baltimore’s antiquated system of punishing people who have outstanding water bills by making it possible for them to lose homes and houses of worship to foreclosure. We’re talking water bills for as little as $350 or $750, depending on whether the property is occupied by the owner, with interest and fees then piled on. (Balt. Sun)

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