How Hogan can save Obamacare in Maryland

To his credit, Gov. Larry Hogan has made several statements of support for the Affordable Care Act during the past year and in opposition to flawed “repeal and replace” bills advanced by members of his party in Congress. With the Senate poised to vote on a tax cut plan that includes a repeal of Obamacare’s requirement that most people have insurance — known as the individual mandate — he has a chance to do more than talk. He can’t stop Congress from making such a destructive move, but he can lend his support to an effort to preserve the benefits of the ACA in Maryland and to stave off the potential havoc in the state’s insurance market that killing the individual mandate would cause. (Balt. Sun)

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There's room for compromise on paid sick leave

Next year Maryland will join the surprisingly sparse list of states that require most businesses to provide paid sick leave. Judging by past polls, Marylanders will overwhelmingly approve. But they might also take note of how it happens. Will their elected officials — specifically Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly — demonstrate their superiority to the gridlock kings of Washington, D.C., by reaching a compromise incorporating the best ideas from both sides? Or will the Democrats simply grab the issue and use it as an election-year club to batter Hogan, although he has gone further toward advocacy of paid sick leave than virtually any other GOP governor? We’ll find out next month. (Capital)

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Nathan Hultman, Alan Miller: Climate change a risk to Md.’s pension system

Pension funds, unlike commercial banks, have to manage returns for the long term so as to ensure they fulfill the promises made to employees who may be decades from retirement. Thinking about the future – and new financial risks – is therefore one of their most important responsibilities. Recent hurricanes and wildfires in the United States have underscored that climate change has become a new source of major financial risk, which will almost certainly grow in coming decades. To date, however, the Maryland pension fund has been slow to respond comprehensively to this challenge, even as tidal flooding has become a regular feature in parts of Annapolis just blocks away from government offices. (Daily Record)

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Alice Johnson Cain: Students deserve a solution to busing question

This week, more than 100 Annapolis Middle School students were slated to lose school bus service and, instead, walk a total of three miles to and from school every day under dangerous conditions. After a public outcry, including parent testimony at a recent school board meeting, schools Superintendent George Arlotto and the county Board of Education wisely reversed the decision – for now. A letter from the superintendent made it clear, however, that this is only a temporary fix and that “this postponement should not be viewed as a reversal of our earlier decision … It should be viewed as … the opportunity to have continued dialogue (and further) study. That study, to be clear, may eventually lead us to the same decision as was previously announced.” (Capital)

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In Suiter case, why not an independent investigation?

Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter has just been laid to rest after being shot in the head by his own service weapon. The vicious killing of the 18-year veteran occurred more than two weeks ago, and despite a $215,000 reward for the killer there are fears that the murder will never be solved. (Daily Record)

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C. Fraser Smith: A slain cop’s legacy?

The mayor says violence in Baltimore is “out of control.” Hard to disagree — unless you consider a dark rebuttal: The head-shooting street assassins  — these guys are in control. And their grip is tightening. We sped past 300 and last year’s death toll with more than a month left in 2017. (Daily Record)

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Expanding training in important trades

The county’s ideas incubator high school, the Applications and Research Laboratory, is branching out in the next school year to offer courses in agricultural science and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. In high-achieving Howard County, where nine out of 10 students move on to higher education after receiving a high school diploma, promoting career tracks in farming and building mechanical systems might seem out of place. It shouldn’t. (Ho. Co. Times)

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The lesson of the Russian Facebook ads in Maryland: They're getting smarter

There’s a certain clumsiness about the Facebook ad that congressional investigators say Kremlin-connected Russian internet trolls targeted at Marylanders in 2015. Along with pictures of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, it included the slightly off-key text, “Join us because we care. Black Matters!” — as if it were the color that was important and not the lives of black people. The ad sent those who clicked on it to a Facebook page called Black Matters U.S. — again, not quite getting the phrase right — that appears associated with a website that included pointed but stilted commentary about matters including race and policing. (Balt. Sun)

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