Balto. Co.'s accomplishment

Last week, top officials in Baltimore County stood together to proudly announce that the homicide rate there was at its lowest level since Jimmy Carter was president. This week, top officials in the Baltimore City Police Department had to answer questions from City Council members about why homicides there were once again on the rise. For a host of reasons, comparing the two isn't really fair, but it is instructive to look at what has driven the drop in homicides in the county to see what could apply to the very different circumstances of the city. (Balt. Sun)

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Dan Rodricks: Mike Miller, marijuana and the right side of history

Public opinion polls have spiked in favor of relaxing marijuana laws, especially since the states of Colorado and Washington made pot legal in 2012. Even more Americans — 70 percent to 80 percent in various surveys — think the nation's four-decades-long war on drugs has been lost, a huge waste of time and money. And the most foolish part of the war has been the enforcement of state and federal prohibitions against the cultivation, sale, distribution and possession of cannabis. It's really only timid politicians who stand in the way of ending the nation's obsession with weed and allowing its regulated and taxable sale. (Balt. Sun)

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Beth Panitz: Classroom management skills matter as much as curriculum

Classroom management has always been the toughest part of teaching. Good management strategies are necessary to get a classroom of kids engaged in learning. When I first entered the classroom after four years of training in elementary education, I was overwhelmed. No matter how carefully I planned a lesson, I was daunted by the idea of engaging 28 active second graders all at the same time. As one teacher described it, "trial and error in the trenches" was simply how classroom management was learned. But apparently teachers echo my woes across the nation. (Balt. Sun)

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Fairness, economic benefit and business survival all at stake

Increasing the minimum wage is a hot topic this year both in Annapolis and in Washington. Compelling arguments are offered on both sides, but reasonable middle ground looks attainable. With broad bipartisan support, it seems clear the minimum wage should be increased. Indexing it to inflation would help ensure that this discussion will not need to be repeated every few years. (Daily Times)

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Blaine Young: The Dark Side of Increased Minimum Wage

Here we go again. If we have learned anything during the seven year O’Malley Administration in Maryland, it is that if any other state comes up with some far left idea that we have not yet gotten here, our illustrious government in Annapolis will latch on to it as their own. It seems it is impossible for anything to be too far to the left to be too liberal for Maryland. The latest is the minimum wage. (Tentacle)

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State’s campaign finance law makes little difference

Maryland prohibits state elected officials from raising campaign money during the legislative session. This is a feel-good law — it looks like a significant restriction but doesn’t actually do anything to control the flood of campaign money into state politics. If the state is interested in serious reform, the rules will have to be revamped to fit current realities. (Capital)

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Jan. 8 // Lowered expectations

Any other year, we’d be advising you to lock up your wallets because the Maryland General Assembly’s back in town. This year, though, we’re cautiously optimistic that the 434th session, convening today, won’t have the usual tureen full of tax and fee increases. In fact, we’d be surprised to see anything substantial come out of the State House by the time the concluding bell is rung in early April. That’s not to say the debate won’t be lively. That’s not to say controversial issues won’t be raised. What it is, though, is an election year where all those looking to return in 2015 are, at worst, looking to cover their heinies and, at best, polishing the résumé and turfing up a couple of pithy sound bites for campaign mailers — “fought this” or “supported that.” (News-Post)

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Start watching your state lawmakers now; don't wait until it's too late

Don’t you just hate it when your elected state officials don’t represent your views at all? Today is opening day of the 2014 legislative session in Annapolis. It’s a heady day for returning senators, delegates and their staffs as the pomp and circumstance of opening day commence, old friends reconnect and new friendships are established. (Daily Times)

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