Rachel Baye, WYPR

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Health experts push for limits on marijuana legalization in Maryland

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Maryland lawmakers are exploring the possibility of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. But during a meeting Wednesday of the House of Delegates’ Cannabis Legalization Workgroup, some health experts warned against moving forward without both strong regulations and a public health campaign.

Fertility Concerns And Breakthrough Infections: Debunking Common Myths About COVID Vaccines

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Mary Cowden and Anthony Kangethe offer vaccines at the Garrett County Agriculture Fair earlier this month. Credit: Rachel Baye/WYPR

Rumors and misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines to prevent the virus have been a major hurdle in efforts to convince Garrett County residents to get the shot. The rural county in Maryland’s westernmost corner is home to about 29,000 people, less than 39% of whom are fully vaccinated, the lowest vaccination rate in the state, according to state data.

WYPR’s Rachel Baye spent some time earlier this month talking with county residents about their views on COVID-19 and why they are hesitant to get a vaccine.

Maryland’s state song, a “relic of the Confederacy”, is abolished

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Maryland has abolished its official state song, which had Confederate-supportive lyrics.

Gov. Larry Hogan has signed off on a law that repeals Maryland’s state song because it is a “relic of the Confederacy.”

The song repeal was among 226 bills signed into law this week, and includes another which allows sports betting in Maryland.

At the ceremonial bill signing with the legislative leaders, Hogan called the state song “a relic of the Confederacy that is clearly outdated and out of touch.”

The lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland” come from an 1861 poem by James Ryder Randall that celebrates the Confederacy. The General Assembly made it the state song in 1939, at the height of the Jim Crow era. The legislature considered many proposals to replace the state song over the last several years, but none succeeded. The bill signed by Hogan repeals the song but does not replace it.

Among the other bills Hogan highlighted in his opening remarks was the “Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act.” Named for a University of Maryland football player who died of heatstroke in 2018, the bill creates new health and safety rules for student athletes. It also allows student athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name and image.

One bill signed this week extends pandemic-era rules allowing bars and restaurants to offer carry-out and delivery of alcohol. Another creates a framework for sports betting after voters opted to legalize it during the last election.

To hear more about the new laws, listen to the WYPR report.

Vaccinating An Often Overlooked Population — Homeless Marylanders

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Sixty-eight-year-old Melvin King was visibly elated. As the sticker on his chest declared, he had just received his COVID-19 vaccine.

“My second one, as a matter of fact,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to it, you know, and I think, you know, that this is very important to everyone, not just to myself.”

King’s primary care doctor here, at Healthcare for the Homeless in Baltimore, called him to make the appointment.

MD Senate advances tax credit expansion to immigrants, over Republican objections

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A debate over whether to expand an anti-poverty tax measure to immigrants is breaking down along party lines in the Maryland General Assembly, with Republicans vehemently opposing the move. The bill cleared an initial vote in the Senate Wednesday, with just one Democrat voting with the Republicans.

Hogan: ‘America would be better off’ without Trump

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Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. Photo credit: John Minchillo for the Associated Press.

Gov. Larry Hogan is calling for President Donald Trump to resign or be removed from office. At a press conference Thursday, he said Vice President Mike Pence should lead until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Police And Its Critics Back Changes To Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights

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Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr

Law enforcement officials and some of the police’s most fervent critics agreed during a four-hour state Senate hearing Thursday that the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights needs to be changed. They disagreed, however, on the scope of the change.

The controversial Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, or LEOBR, governs police internal investigations and discipline. Critics say it gives too much protection to police who violate rules or even the law.

Families of police victims push state lawmakers for change

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State lawmakers heard hours of testimony Tuesday about a slate of Democratic proposals to reform policing in Maryland, in the first of three straight days of hearings on the topic. In addition to civil rights advocates, law enforcement leaders and elected officials, the state Senate Judicial Proceedings committee heard from several residents who spoke about fathers, sons and other family members killed by police in Maryland.

State lawmakers take up 15 proposals to reform policing

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Statewide efforts to reform policing will be the focus of a three-day marathon of hearings that begins Tuesday before the state Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. The hearings will consider issues related to body cameras, police discipline, and use-of-force policies.

Maryland University Staff Describe Unsafe Conditions

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Shower curtains act as barriers in financial aid and admissions offices at Frostburg State University.

Maryland’s public universities have for months strategized about ways to keep students and faculty safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But staff members who provide essential services, from housekeeping to IT, at many of those universities say their schools’ leaders have treated their safety and wellbeing as afterthoughts.

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