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Programs adapt to feed hungry in Maryland during pandemic

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Real Food for Kids partnered with The Silver Diner at the Rio Shopping Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to provide free meals since schools have closed and students have to pick up meals instead of receiving them during school hours. (Photo courtesy of Jenn Yates with Real Food for Kids.)

By Hugh Garbrick
Capital News Service

OLNEY — Government programs, food banks and nonprofit organizations aiding people who struggle to put food on the table have had to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, and they say stress levels have moved beyond typical levels.

As more Marylanders encounter food insecurity, schools, nonprofits and others must figure out a way to get more food to more people, but with less staff and safety concerns hampering their ability to do so.

CDC says ‘no’ to clearing encampments during coronavirus outbreak

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Tents line the sidewalk on 2nd Street Northeast in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 2019, as city workers prepare to clean the adjacent tunnels where the tents are normally erected. The District of Columbia frequently clears encampments temporarily so streets can be cleaned. Workers typically throw away anything left behind. (Photo by Julia Lerner/Howard Center for Investigative Journalism)

By Ryan E. Little
Howard Center for Investigative Journalism

People living in outdoor homeless encampments should not be evicted during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus unless they can be moved to individual housing units, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended late Sunday.

Living outside for prolonged periods of time has long been associated with greater health risks. But the recommendations posted on the CDC’s website said the short-term impact of clearing the tents and temporary structures would likely increase the risk of spreading the virus because people would scatter to other parts of the community.

Bill would increase tax credit for living organ donors

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Photo by Julie Depenbrock/Capital News Service

By Hugh Garbrick
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — After returning home from Iraq, Army veteran Kellen Leech, who was deployed three times over the course of 14 year, wrestled with his mental health: PTSD, survivor’s guilt and depression—until he read a Facebook post about Ellery Payton.

Payton’s previous kidney transplant failed, and in 2012 he needed another one; Leech, a Prince George’s County, Maryland, resident, decided he wanted to donate his.

Maryland bill would usher in zero-emission transit buses

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An MTA CityLink bus. Photo by Scott218, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Hugh Garbrick
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland could begin replacing old diesel and hybrid state-operated transit buses with electric and zero-emission ones no earlier than July 2022 if a bill passes the General Assembly, jolting Maryland’s fleet into the future.

Bill aims to make stricter storage laws for firearms

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The dome of Maryland’s State House rises above buildings in Annapolis, Maryland, on Nov. 5, 2019. (Capital News Service photo by Elliott Davis.)

By Fatemeh Paryavi
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — A bill in the Maryland General Assembly changes the language of existing law in prohibiting an individual from storing a firearm—loaded or unloaded—in a location where an unsupervised minor “could” gain access to it.

Current law only accounts for loaded guns, saying they must be stored “in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to the firearm,” according to a legislative analysis. The new language would also add unsupervised minors to the law.

Trump’s proposed Chesapeake Bay cleanup cuts draw fire

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Credit: Ben Schumin, via Wikimedia Commons

By Bryan Gallion
Capital News Service

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress, state lawmakers and environmental groups are rallying against President Donald Trump’s 91 percent funding cut for Chesapeake Bay cleanup and restoration included in his 2021 fiscal budget.

“While the Trump administration continues to turn its back on the bay, we will keep fighting to protect one of our most precious natural assets,” Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.

For the fourth year in a row, Trump has suggested a drastic reduction in funding for the Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Program, which is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency and coordinates bay cleanup efforts by the federal government, the watershed’s six surrounding states–Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York–and the District of Columbia.

Bill looks to make single-occupant restrooms gender-neutral

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Photo by Martin Falbisoner, via Wikimedia Commons

By Fatemeh Paryavi
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Many public places in Maryland would be required to make their single-occupant bathrooms gender neutral under legislation in the state’s General Assembly.

The proposed law would require public facilities to change their pictorial or gender-exclusive signage for single-toilet bathrooms to gender neutral, according to the bill’s state legislative analysis.

Cardin and Van Hollen aim for zero greenhouse gases by 2050

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Credit: Martin Falbisoner, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Anna Hovey
Capital News Service

WASHINGTON — A bill aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by no later than 2050 has been introduced by Maryland Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

The United States produced 16 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That is second only to China, the world’s most populous country, which accounted for 29 percent.

Bill would ban plastic carryout bags from all stores

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A plastic carryout bag. These would no longer be available in Maryland beginning in mid-2021 under legislation proposed in the 2020 General Assembly. (Hugh Garbrick/Capital News Service.)

By Hugh Garbrick
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Plastic carryout bags would essentially be a thing of the past in Maryland if a bill in the General Assembly gathers enough lawmakers’ votes.

The bill would ban plastic carryout bags at the “point of sale” next year in July, require stores to charge customers a 10 cent fee per “durable” carryout bag—like paper bags—money that retailers would keep, and create a “Single-Use Products Workgroup,” according to a state legislative analysis.

Bill would expand in vitro insurance to cover unwed women

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The dome of Maryland’s State House rises above buildings in Annapolis, Maryland, on Nov. 5, 2019. (Capital News Service photo by Elliott Davis.)

By Ryan E. Little
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS—A Maryland mandate that health insurance plans pay for in vitro fertilization doesn’t cover unwed women.

But a bill filed in the General Assembly and supported by the Women’s Law Center of Maryland aims to end the state’s distinction of a woman’s marital status, expanding coverage under certain insurance plans that is already offered to heterosexual and homosexual couples.

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