August 7 // Mark Reutter: Keeping Baltimore’s water system public won’t cure its accountability problems

Spooked by indications that a private company is seeking to operate Baltimore’s water system, the City Council was set Monday night to pass a measure to keep the region’s water and sewer operations public. “Water privatization is simply unethical, immoral and dangerous,” says Rianna Eckel, an organizer for Food & Water Watch, a group that has urged Council members to make Baltimore what she calls “a public water hero.” Mayor Catherine Pugh says she supports the charter amendment, which has drawn support from municipal unions concerned about lost public-sector jobs and ministers worried about the impact of rising water rates on the elderly and poor. Ironically, the ban on privatization obscures the fact that Baltimore’s water and sewer system already operates much like a private entity with remarkably few checks and balances. (Brew)

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Busch's gambit for abortion rights amendment will reverberate for years

Maryland's fight over abortion rights has been settled for a generation. No more. By announcing a plan to put a state constitutional amendment protecting a woman's right to abortion on the 2020 ballot, House Speaker Mike Busch made sure of that. Since a 1992 referendum, Maryland law has protected the rights guaranteeing access to abortion services as spelled out by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Abortion rights haven't been the subject of major legislation or at the center of any serious political campaign in the 25 years since then. (Capital)

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David A. Plymyer: No way to select our judges

Democracy can be messy, but Maryland's method of selecting circuit court judges is unnecessarily so. The process also is largely dysfunctional. The controversial, albeit successful, campaign run this year by Judge Mark Crooks of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court is a case in point. (Md. Matters)

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Nikki Highsmith Vernick: Census citizenship question hurts equity efforts

“Is this person a citizen of the United States?” This simple question, which the Census Bureau is proposing to add to the 2020 census, could disrupt the once-every-10-years count of our national population. Our country already struggles to adequately count people of color and people in poverty. The citizenship question would surely decrease immigrant participation and compound the challenge of counting all Marylanders — and the census matters to Marylanders. (Balt. Sun)

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Patricia Florestano: It's time for board term limits at AACC and other two-year colleges

I am writing to support strongly Joseph Lamp's recent column on Anne Arundel Community College's board of trustees (The Capital, Aug. 2). Lamp makes a clear and articulate case for term limits for such boards. My views stem from three perspectives. First, I served as secretary of higher education during Gov Paris Glendening's administration. In that capacity, I worked with the public and private four-year universities and the two-year community colleges. (Capital)

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August 6 // James D. Fielder: Hogan administration is taking the lead in college affordability

College tuition, expenses and student debt have been steadily on the rise nationwide. Nearly 60 percent of all of our Maryland college students are graduating with thousands of dollars in student debt. To be exact, college debt is now estimated to be $1.48 trillion nationwide and the average debt in Maryland is $27,455 per student. This financial burden is often preventing Marylanders from achieving financial security by becoming a roadblock to traditional milestones like home ownership and saving for retirement. Gov. Larry Hogan has consistently made college affordability one of his administration’s top priorities and has worked with us at the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to produce real and pragmatic solutions for our students and graduates. (Herald-Mail)

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Burcat, Murray, Gohn, Tashakkori: Md. clean energy critics spreading misinformation

Over the last decade, power generated by wind and solar has become a growing portion of Maryland’s electricity each year. More people now work in Maryland’s wind and solar industries — over 5,500 — than the state’s crab industry, and in 2017 alone wind energy generation avoided 1.1 million metric tons of CO2 pollution in the state. As representatives of solar and wind companies that power Maryland’s homes and businesses, we can say unequivocally that Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been the single biggest factor in the growth of these clean energy sources. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland should lead on keeping plastic foam out of the water

Anyone who lives along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline has seen first hand the aftermath of July’s torrential period of rain. Miles of debris — tires, cans, logs and every conceivable form of plastic — have washed up, creating a mess. Public works crews have been joined by hearty bands of volunteers to send it to the landfill. Gov. Larry Hogan was quick and correct in placing the blame on Pennsylvania and New York, upstream states where much of the junk originated. He also was quick to point a finger at Exelon, the giant power company that operates the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River at the head of the bay. (Capital)

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