Chairman of veterans caucus in Maryland General Assembly to deploy to Afghanistan before session's end

Maryland state Senator Will Smith, an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, will deploy to Afghanistan before the end of the General Assembly session. Smith’s office said Wednesday that the Montgomery County Democrat has received orders from the Pentagon to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support, in which 13,000 troops are providing assistance for Afghan security forces in their conflict with extremist groups. Smith, who is a lawyer, is an intelligence officer in the Navy. His private practice focuses on national security law and employment discrimination. (Balt. Sun)

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State of the Union: Md. Dems Skeptical of Trump’s Calls for Unity

President Trump implored Congress Tuesday to move past political gridlock in favor of bipartisan cooperation before he dug in on the border security fight that threatens to shut down the government yet again. “We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before,” Trump said during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Democrats in the Maryland congressional delegation weren’t impressed by Trump’s speech. They accused the president of repeating rhetoric he’s used in the past and exacerbating the partisan divide that led to the longest shutdown in U.S. history. (Md. Matters)

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Maryland Senator Proposes Panel To Create Solar Blueprint

Legislation in Maryland would create a panel to draft a blueprint for where solar projects could be built while protecting forests and agricultural land. Sen. Paul Pinsky said Tuesday the state needs a plan to fulfill a commitment to clean energy while protecting important natural resources. The state commission would develop a plan to give guidance to state agencies and counties. The panel would include government officials, farmers, representatives from solar power companies and environmental and preservation communities. The measure has been filed in response to recent local opposition to solar projects. (WJZ-TV)

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Bills would allow live-streaming of Md. Assembly, agency meetings

Greater transparency, public participation and ease of access are major reasons for bipartisan, video live-streaming bills reintroduced in the Maryland House and Senate this week, legislators said.
Maryland General Assembly, State Board of Elections and Maryland Transportation Authority meetings would all be live-streamed if legislation passes this session. In January, Speaker Michael Busch said the House would begin live-streaming in 2020, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said that chamber would follow in 2021. (Daily Record)

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Maryland will again seek federal funds for Howard Street Tunnel project

The Maryland Department of Transportation will again seek federal funding for the long-awaited Howard Street Tunnel project. An application being submitted next month to the U.S. Department of Transportation grant marks the state's latest step in the effort to reconstruct the Howard Street Tunnel to allow for double-stacking of shipping containers to and from the Port of Baltimore. Double-stacking would allow the Port of Baltimore to continue a steady stream of growth and create more jobs, port officials say. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Johns Hopkins police force bill contains funding for youth programs, requires oversight from 2 boards

Legislation that would authorize Johns Hopkins University to create an armed police force contains several provisions aimed at gaining support from Baltimore lawmakers. The bill — called the Community Safety and Strengthening Act — contains provisions that include requiring the state to provide $3.5 million for the city’s Children and Youth Fund and $1 million toward Mayor Catherine Pugh’s YouthWorks summer jobs program. It also calls for the Hopkins police force to establish at least one Police Athletic League center in Baltimore to offer activities for youth. (Balt. Sun)

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As Annapolis Lawmakers Ponder Bids for Congress, Incumbents Build Impenetrable War Chests

Presidential election cycles tend to be less eventful in Maryland then gubernatorial cycles — in part because there are fewer offices and fewer candidates on the ballot. But one thing that makes presidential election years exciting in Maryland is the fact that state lawmakers can run for Congress without having to risk their own legislative seats. It’s a free shot, and at least a few Annapolis legislators will inevitably attempt to take advantage. (Md. Matters)

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D.C. Council approves sole-source sports betting contract, aid to federal workers

The D.C. Council on Tuesday narrowly authorized the city to grant a sole-source contract to run its new foray into online sports betting, a move that concerns critics who say the lucrative deal should be competitively bid. Lawmakers late last year legalized sports gambling at arenas, at retailers and on a mobile app. But the city has a monopoly on mobile betting, which is expected to be the most popular way to place wagers and the biggest source of revenue. The bill, which passed 7 to 6, would allow the city to suspend competitive bidding rules and allow Greece-based Intralot, which already has the contract to operate the D.C. Lottery, to manage online sports gambling and related services. (Wash. Post)

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