Solving our heroin problem requires science not slogans

Having laid low for a couple of decades, heroin is thundering back with a vengeance. Once thought of as an inner-city problem, the drug is sweeping rural communities, including ours, and causing addictions and death across a broad social and economic spectrum. (Herald-Mail)

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Thomas F. Schaller: Hate if you must, just don't act on it

Opponents of gay rights would have us believe that sexual orientation is a choice, and thus different from race or gender, when in fact the primary difference is that sexual orientation can be kept private, but one's gender or race cannot. This distinction helps explain why it took longer to address anti-gay discrimination; beyond the 1969 Stonewall riots, two generations ago, few were calling for equal rights for gay Americans. Not any more: Public attitudes about gay rights have changed dramatically in recent decades. Solid majorities, especially among younger Americans, now support marriage equality and other standards of equal treatment. (Balt. Sun)

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Project funding a question

While it is good that state officials and Carroll County have apparently worked out a compromise in their battle over implementing a tax to pay for stormwater management projects, at the end of the day residents will still be paying and the county will still be collecting what has been derided as a “rain tax.” A 2012 law mandated that nine counties and the City of Baltimore institute a new tax to pay for stormwater runoff projects, but the law didn’t say how much the jurisdictions should charge or dictate any framework for how it should be imposed. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Tax credits for working families [Editorial]

Class, here's a pop quiz on Washington's view of economics. Who gave the following unsolicited endorsements of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the refundable federal tax credit for low and moderate income workers? The program gives "families flexibility — it helps them take ownership of their lives." "A fairly efficient poverty abatement program." "Promotes work as it reduces poverty." If you said President Barack Obama, who on Tuesday proposed an expansion of the tax credit as part of his fiscal 2015 budget proposal — or even the usual suspects in the liberal, socialist, income-redistributing, Wall Street-bashing end of the political spectrum — that would be understandable, but it would also be quite wrong. (Balt. Sun)

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Tom Zirpoli: No religious freedom to discriminate

Recent efforts in Arizona and other states to provide legal cover for those who want to discriminate against gays on the basis of religious freedom are an interesting twist on the concept of religious freedom. Brian Beutler, political writer for Salon, recently wrote a column on the abuse of the religious freedom claim by conservatives to discriminate against women and gays in both private and public workplaces. Conservatives, said Beutler, first tried to use religion as a weapon against the Affordable Care Act because the ACA protected the rights of women to have contraceptives as an option in their health insurance plans. (Carroll Co. Times)

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March 4 // Anthony G. Brown and Joseph T. Jones Jr.: Building safe and just communities

Marylanders are ready for an open and serious discussion about our state's laws pertaining to the possession of small amounts of marijuana. As currently constructed and enforced, these laws are costly, ineffective and racially biased, and they result in a permanent blot on the records of too many of our young adults. Criminal arrest and prosecution for small amounts of marijuana is not the most effective strategy to keep our neighborhoods safe, and it draws resources away from the fight against violent crime. (Balt. Sun)

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Sixty-five (still) saves lives

Here's a number that ought to be memorized by every elected official in the state of Maryland: 485. That's how many people died in traffic collisions in 2011 in this state (the most recent year for which such statistics are available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). That's the equivalent of about 10 full motor coaches. Yet the number that's being discussed these days in the General Assembly is 70. (Balt. Sun)

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Law needs revising

Whether through the commission setup to hash out the details of how to implement an effective program or through new legislation proposed this session, changes are needed to make medical marijuana available to those who would benefit from it. The legislature passed a law allowing for the use of medical marijuana in 2013, but because of the way the law was written, no one has been able to take advantage of it. (Carr. Co. Times)

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