February 9 // Hot pink for hunters: Young sisters push for new law in Maryland

For Paige and Brooke Simonsen, the day began in typical fashion. Paige, 12, took a quiz on the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. Brooke, 9, dressed for her school’s “twin day,” in which she and her best friend wore a bacon-and-egg costume. But at noon, the sisters from Easton, Md., left their seventh- and fourth-grade classrooms for more hallowed chambers: The Maryland State House in Annapolis. They had a bill to pass. “It’s going to be awkward, because it’s silent, and nobody’s talking,” Paige said before testifying Tuesday on a bill to allow hunters to wear bright fluorescent pink — or “blaze pink” — in addition to the more traditional fluorescent orange. (Wash. Post)

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Visitation program is 'first of its kind' for children of incarcerated parents

When a parent is incarcerated, there is an effect felt throughout the entire family unit. For a period of time, that parent’s interaction and influence on their children is limited to meetings behind a thick panel of glass. In Maryland, the Governor’s Office for Children has estimated that 90,000 children are impacted by parental incarceration. Working through local management boards, the office seeks out programs that can address this need in communities. That’s how the Inmate Visitation and Parenting Assistance Program, also known as the Family Ties program, was born. This is currently the only program in Maryland that allows contact visits outside of the detention center. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Comfort in 'ruff' times: Courthouse dog pilot program launches in Anne Arundel and Harford counties

Testifying in court can be scary for anyone, let alone a child. Judge Laura Kiessling said between 100 and 200 child witnesses testify each year at Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. They sit in front of a room full of strangers, sometimes in a seat too big for their feet to touch the ground, and have to tell the court what they saw. An elite team of good boys and girls has been deployed to help these children. Six goldendoodles, two labradoodles, two French bulldogs, a golden retriever and a massive 115-pound boerboel took an oath (spoken for by their handlers) at the Circuit Court in Annapolis on Thursday to faithfully serve and comfort children testifying. (Capital)

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Privatized public housing in Baltimore improperly evicting tenants, complaint alleges

Former public housing complexes that Baltimore officials recently privatized are evicting tenants too quickly and without proper notice, a new complaint alleges. The non-profit Disability Rights Maryland investigated court filings related to former public housing over the past year, and said it found seven cases in which residents were evicted or served with eviction notices improperly. “The Housing Authority made some public promises about how the [privatization] was going to secure the rights tenants had, that those would carry over,” said David Prater, an attorney with Disability Rights Maryland. (Balt. Sun)

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When the water bill is $50,000: Hundreds of Baltimore customers hit with incorrect bills

Hundreds of customers of Baltimore’s water system were hit this week with bills of more than $50,000 each. The Baltimore Department of Public Works said Thursday that officials are reaching out to 566 customers who were sent “erroneous inflated” bills. City officials blamed the incorrect bills on a weekend software upgrade that created problems. “Despite extensive testing of the software, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Customer Support and Services Division learned that some bills went out with extraordinary amounts,” the city said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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Harford to begin interviewing law firms to pursue suit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

Harford County is moving forward with its lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors but still has to work out its details, a county government spokesperson said this week. A team of the county administration, including County Attorney Melissa Lambert and Director of Administration Billy Boniface, will be meeting over the next couple weeks with law firms to interview them and then make recommendations to Harford County Executive Barry Glassman about going forward with the lawsuit, Cindy Mumby said. (Aegis)

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Jurors begin deliberations in Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force trial; will resume Monday

Jurors in the federal trial of two former members of the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force were sent home for the weekend after deliberating for about four hours, and will resume Monday. In closing arguments Thursday, the defense attorney for Detective Marcus Taylor said authorities went “to the depths of the criminal underworld” to make their case that the officers were part of a conspiracy to rob citizens using the cover of their badges. (Balt. Sun)

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De Sousa appoints Baltimore Police veterans and retirees to lead department to reformed future

Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa has filled his top command staff with veteran Baltimore cops — including retirees he recruited to return — who will restore lost pride in the troubled department while also steering it to a better future, he told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday. Right at the top, as his two deputy commissioners, are retirees: Andre Bonaparte as deputy commissioner of support services and Thomas Cassella as deputy commissioner of operations. (Balt. Sun)

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