State launches fund to help those recovering from opioid use disorder find and keep employment

Maryland labor and health officials plan to award grant money to local organizations to develop programs that help people recovering from opioid use disorders prepare to get jobs and keep the positions. Funding for the Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund comes from a $1.9 million grant awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Labor. Officials say the idea is to reduce barriers to employment that can support recovery for those affected by the surging epidemic, which has led to a record number of fatal overdoses locally and nationally. (Balt. Sun)

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State lawmakers consider using a penalty to coax more Marylanders into buying health insurance

A coalition of state lawmakers and health organizations gathered in Annapolis Wednesday to rally support for a bill that would require Maryland residents to have health insurance or face a fine — money that could then be used to help them and others afford coverage on the state’s exchange. The proposed legislation, which is supported by groups representing the state’s doctors and hospitals, is being considered by the General Assembly as the federal government has stopped enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have insurance, known as the individual mandate. (Balt. Sun)

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Legislators weigh bill to relax ban on ex-cons serving as jurors

Under legislation before the General Assembly’s judicial committees, Maryland’s ban on jury service by people who have served — or who currently face a charge punishable by — more than six months in prison would be relaxed to a prohibition on those who have served or could serve more than a one-year sentence. Sen. Jill P. Carter, chief sponsor of the Senate bill, said Wednesday that the legislation would expand not only the civil rights of former convicts to serve as jurors but also the constitutional rights of defendants on trial, who would have a greater chance of having their fate decided by people who know what it is like to stand accused. (Daily Record)

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Cummings, Connolly and Wexton seek answers about workers’ back pay after shutdown

With lawmakers days away from another government-shutdown deadline, Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee want to know why some workers still have not been made whole from the last shutdown. Freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) joined Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee on government operations, in sending a letter Tuesday requesting information from agencies that are in charge of paying federal workers. (Wash. Post)

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Maryland Republicans from suburbs push to allow Baltimore school police to carry guns inside buildings

Days after a staff member was shot inside a Baltimore public high school, Maryland Senate Republicans from the suburbs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require city school police officers to carry their guns inside school buildings. The legislation — sponsored by Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, who represents Harford and Baltimore counties — would also apply to school resource officers across the state. It quickly picked up co-sponsors from 10 other Senate Republicans. (Balt. Sun)

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Bill to give Anne Arundel veto power over new bay bridge faces resistance in committee

Legislation granting Anne Arundel County veto power over a new span crossing the Chesapeake Bay faced resistance in the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday as opponents raised concerns about undermining the state’s authority over its transportation projects. Senate Bill 107 would add Anne Arundel County to a list of Eastern Shore counties that can veto any toll bridge or road as long as a majority of affected counties agree to do so. The bill also creates new law granting Anne Arundel County veto power over bridge projects spanning the Chesapeake Bay and affecting the county. (Capital)

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Proposal for Prescription Drug Board Gains More Bipartisan Support

Harford County spends about $6.7 million a year on prescription medications for its nearly 900 employees. County Executive Barry Glassman (R) and his budget team have watched with alarm as price hikes have placed a growing strain on local resources. Three medications stand out for their impact, he said. Together, they account for just 84 prescriptions per month. But their collective price tag is eye-popping — more than $810,000 per year. “Really, it’s shocking,” he said. (Md. Matters)

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's communications director to leave for Republican Governors Association

Amelia Chassé Alcivar, the communications director for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, is leaving the administration to join the senior staff of the Republican Governors Association. Chassé Alcivar will become the RGA’s communications director on March 15, representing Republican leaders across the country. She said working for Hogan was “the honor of my career.” “I’m excited to continue serving Gov. Hogan in this new capacity and working on behalf of numerous governors who are getting things done across the country,” she said. (Balt. Sun)

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