Will Baltimore County raise taxes for first time in decades? Some think it's necessary to fill budget hole.

Johnny Olszewski Jr. delivered an upbeat message on the campaign trail, promising a fresh approach to governing as Baltimore County executive. Now in office, he is traveling around the county telling a more sobering story. Confronted with an $81 million budget gap, Olszewski is wrapping up a series of town hall meetings where he has told residents of challenging times ahead. After making bold promises about county schools — 20 percent raises for teachers, three new high schools, and pre-kindergarten for all families — the county executive says he’s trying to figure out how to fill the hole before he delivers his first budget plan this spring. (Balt. Sun)

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Medical marijuana bill would further ease Anne Arundel's tough restrictions

Another medical marijuana bill has been introduced, aiming to further loosen restrictions for incoming medical marijuana businesses in Anne Arundel County. Bill 7-19 was introduced by Councilwoman Allison Pickard, D-Millersville. It reduces the distance requirements near residences, allows medical marijuana facilities in a new commercial district and repeals a prohibition on variances. Anne Arundel County is notorious for regulations so strict that many medical marijuana businesses required variances before they could be approved. (Balt. Sun)

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Wicomico County Executive, Council At Odds

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver is calling on Council President John Cannon to step down from his position, highlighting the discord between the two branches and a letter from the council critical of the county’s chief elected official. Culver sent a letter to Cannon on Monday requesting he step down as council president, citing distrust in his leadership and attempts to interfere with executive functions. The letter appears to be fueled by comments members of the council made in a work session last week. (Dispatch)

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More than 40 percent of Baltimore Police officers don't feel comfortable making proactive arrests, survey says

Of the 362 Baltimore Police officers who participated in a recent survey, more than 40 percent said they don’t feel comfortable making proactive arrests. The voluntary survey conducted by Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer at the end of 2018 was sent via department email to police department leadership, officers and civilian members who responded anonymously. The short questionnaire asked basic biographical information, including their ages and how long the respondents had served on the force, and questions about overall morale. (Balt. Sun)

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Student charged with wiretapping after livestreaming meeting at Maryland Rep. Harris' office, prosecutors say

A Salisbury University student has been charged with illegal wiretapping after prosecutors say he streamed a meeting with a congressional staffer for Maryland Rep. Andy Harris to Facebook Live without permission. Jake Burdett, 20, was charged last week with two felony counts of making an illegal recording and distributing the video filmed during a Maryland Marijuana Justice rally at Harris’s Salisbury office in October, according to a news release from the state prosecutor’s office. Marijuana legalization protesters have long tangled with Harris, who in 2014 worked to block full legalization of the drug in the District of Columbia. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland House advances bill to provide state loans to unpaid federal workers during government shutdowns

The House of Delegates approved a bill Thursday that calls for establishing a fund to pay federal employees in Maryland who are forced to work without compensation during a U.S. government shutdown. Typically, employees who must work without pay aren’t allowed to receive unemployment benefits because they are not available to work another job. The federal government also won’t pay into the state’s unemployment system for those workers. An estimated 172,000 Marylanders were affected by the most recent government shutdown, including federal employees and contractors, according to the state comptroller’s office. (Balt. Sun)

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Hogan urges boost to Md. electric vehicle tax credits

Gov. Larry Hogan took a spin around the State House in an effort to promote legislation that would increase a tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles. Hogan sat in the passenger seat as his wife, Yumi, pulled out of a parking spot in front of the building and went for a leisurely spin around State Circle and returned. The legislation favored by the two-term Republican would double the $3 million originally set aside that was quickly depleted. “The reason why we’re expanding it is because it was so successful,” Hogan said. (Daily Record)

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Supporters Of Prescription Drug Board To Outline Bill

Supporters of creating a state board in Maryland to review high-priced drugs will be outlining the legislation in the state capital. Faith leaders from across the state are scheduled to gather in Annapolis with lawmakers Thursday to support the bill. Democratic leadership has made prescription-drug affordability a priority of the legislative session. The bill has picked up some bipartisan support. The measure calls for creating an independent body with the authority to evaluate high-cost prescription drugs and set rates for Maryland residents to pay. (WJZ-TV)

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