Baltimore police interim commissioner Gary Tuggle: Judges must stop letting violent criminals go

Twenty-year-old Raytawn Benjamin is a person of interest in several gang-related shootings and homicides. In July he was charged with a handgun violation after throwing a gun into the backyard of a vacant home while running away from Baltimore police officers. After Mr. Benjamin pleaded guilty, the State’s Attorney’s Office recommended to Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Geller that Mr. Benjamin be sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison. But Judge Geller gave Mr. Benjamin “Probation Before Judgement,” meaning if he successfully completes three years of probation, he will have no conviction for this crime. As a result, Mr. Benjamin is now back on the street. This case is a good illustration of a problem that has plagued Baltimore for years. (Balt. Sun)

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C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger: Farm Bill vote broke my heart

There are tough votes, and then there are votes that break your heart. My vote yesterday in support of a procedural rule to advance what’s known as the Farm Bill was one that broke my heart. That’s because members of the Republican Party’s most conservative wing — with the approval of House Speaker Paul Ryan — snuck in a last-minute provision that would make it harder for Congress to end U.S. support of the Saudi coalition at war with Yemen. A war that is causing unspeakable suffering for the innocent people of Yemen. (Balt. Sun)

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Jimmy DeButts: Maryland leaders have unfinished tax-cutting business

As Maryland leaders look toward 2019, they should plan to complete unfinished business. During the 2018 General Assembly session, lawmakers passed and Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill to eliminate additional tax burdens to 91 percent of Marylanders. Tax cuts at the federal level allowed Maryland to retain $200 million in higher state taxes after the bill became law earlier this year. Last week, it was announced the state has $1 billion in unspent revenue. (Capital)

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Steuart Pittman plans a gun violence commission. We've got recommendations.

One of the commitments County Executive Steuart Pittman made in his inaugural address earlier this month was the creation of a commission to study ways to reduce gun violence in Anne Arundel County. After almost six months of publishing essays on ways to end mass shootings, the deadliest form of gun violence, we have some ideas on where this commission might start. (Capital)

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Nancy Navarro: Montgomery can do better by Latino students

Montgomery County can do better for Latino students. A recent report from the University of Maryland School of Public Health showed that Latino students are facing an extraordinary achievement gap. But we know there is huge room for improvement in educational outcomes for these students, and we in Montgomery County are working hard to make that improvement happen. (Wash. Post)

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Julia Angkeow: Tax credits aren't enough to relieve burden of organ donation

When I was 4 years old, my grandfather was diagnosed with an aggressive form of hepatic cancer after contracting hepatitis C. He would have benefited from a partial liver transplant but was unable to find a donor match in time to save his life. In 2017, Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch received a partial liver transplant from his sister in order to combat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. After his recovery, Mr. Busch proposed a bill that grants up to a $7,500 state tax credit to living kidney, liver, intestine, pancreas, lung or bone marrow donors. The Maryland General Assembly unanimously passed the bill in March of this year, and it went into effect in July. The new law attempts to address the dire shortage of transplantable organs in the United States. (Balt. Sun)

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Lloyd "Pete" Waters: ‘Kindness’ sometimes has consequences

Several weeks ago, a good Samaritan and her husband were driving home in Baltimore from a night out on the town. According to her husband, they were headed down the streets of Baltimore and saw a young woman standing in the rain. She was holding what appeared to be an infant and had in her hand a sign that read, “Please help feed my baby.” Jacquelyn Smith was touched by the scene like so many of us might have been, especially at this time of the year. She decided to give this young woman some money. As she was in the process of doing so, a man came up to her car window presumably to thank her for her generosity but then suddenly grabbed the necklace from around her neck, grabbed her wallet and then stabbed her with a knife. (Herald-Mail)

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December 14 // Marylander of the Year finalists

With the help of readers who submitted dozens of suggestions, we have narrowed the candidates for The Sun's 2018 Marylander of the Year award down to five. We offer the public one more chance to influence our final choice with an online vote before The Sun's publisher and editorial board announce the winner on Sunday, Dec. 30. (Balt. Sun)

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