Oct. 1 // Md. gun rights lawsuits are firing blanks

Perhaps the ultimate tribute to the strong and well considered gun control measures that go into effect in Maryland tomorrow is the tepid challenge gun rights advocates have made to them. Months after announcing that they would not seek to petition the law to referendum — a nod to the inevitable, given polls showing that 80 percent of Marylanders support the law's provisions — gun advocates filed a pair of lawsuits last week seeking to block implementation of two elements: a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and a requirement that handgun purchasers obtain a license and provide their fingerprints to the Maryland State Police. Neither one makes a strong argument. (Balt. Sun)

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Everyone should hope Obamacare works

The Affordable Care Act’s market­places open Tuesday, whether there is a government shutdown or not. A lot of people don’t know what the opening means, let alone how the broader law is supposed to work. The political debate doesn’t help: It has become increasingly distorted since the law passed three years ago, culminating in inflated Republican claims in recent days that the system will harm, rather than improve, health care for many Americans. That’s not only bad for President Obama’s signature policy achievement, it’s also bad for the health-care system. (Wash. Post)

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Brian Frosh: Why Marylanders support our new gun control laws

When the Maryland Firearm Safety Act goes into effect, it will close a gaping hole in our gun violence prevention efforts by requiring firearm purchasers to provide their fingerprints to law enforcement. In the five other states where this policy is already in place, rates of gun-related deaths are among the nation's lowest. We need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. Background checks have done this so effectively that few criminals nowadays just walk into a store to purchase a gun. Instead, they ask a friend, a relative or even a fellow gang member with no prior record to buy the weapon for them. Analysis of federal gun trafficking cases shows that this "straw purchase" method is a primary means through which criminals acquire guns. (Balt. Sun)

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Kevin Kamenetz: Balto. Co. is seeking to make retirement benefits sustainable

Several years ago, Baltimore County government realized that the runaway costs of employee health care and pension benefits needed to be reined in or our taxpayers would be stuck with a huge bill to pay. The county remains committed to providing quality health care to its employees and retirees, including family benefits with low deductibles. However, in order to control rising health care costs, the county decided that each employee should pay the same cost for health care as every other employee and retiree. (Balt. Sun)

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William Baker: Setting the record straight on Arundel's stormwater fees

In recent testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman inaccurately depicted her county and others in Maryland as unsuspecting victims of a 2012 state law dealing with "stormwater utility fees." The fact is Anne Arundel, like other counties, is contributing significant polluted runoff to the Chesapeake Bay and therefore must do more to fix that problem. (Balt. Sun)

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Joshua Sharfstein: A stronger disabilities agency for Maryland

Marylanders with developmental disabilities deserve the opportunity to reach for their potential to live independently, work, and contribute to their communities. As Secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, I am responsible for the Developmental Disabilities Administration, the agency that finances a broad range of services to advance this goal. A federal audit this month detailing faults with the state's billing of the federal government brought attention to the DDA, but our efforts to improve support for Marylanders with developmental disabilities — and to reform the agency itself — began long before that report and far exceed its scope. (Balt. Sun)

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Cookie tradition continues

If the knock did not come at your door this past weekend, it could come sometime over the next few weeks. On the other side of the door is a Girl Scout, maybe a cute 7-year-old Brownie or a worldly 17-year-old Ambassador. It’s Girl Scout cookie time. (Carroll Co. Times)

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The trees at Leakin Park

Supporters of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park are understandably alarmed by a BGE plan to build a new gas pipeline through the area. The pipeline, which serves about 90,000 customers in the city and county, was one of the first such conduits built in the Baltimore region, and it has been repaired dozens of times since it was first laid in 1949. But the company says it's now reached the end of its useful life and must be replaced. The problem is that building a new pipeline along the original route may be impossible under today's stricter environmental regulations, while the available alternatives could require the company to cut down hundreds of the park's historic and beloved old-growth trees. (Balt. Sun)

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