Senate Gives Preliminary OK to Death Penalty Repeal
The Maryland State Senate appears ready to approve the repeal of the death penalty in Maryland; approval from the Senate will send the measure to the House, where repeal supporters feel they have enough votes to send it on to the Governor for his signature. If passed, the Governor's bill would make Maryland the 18th state to abolish capital punishment. The state currently has five men on death row, but has not executed a prisoner since 2005. Since 2006, Maryland has operated under a "de facto" moratorium as a result of a court decision.
Allegany County Bond Rating Improves
Moody's Investor Service has upgraded its long term General Obligation rating for Allegany County from "A1" status to "Aa3." Moody's has applied the rating to the county's $9.3 million General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series of 2013. The upgrade reflects Moody's assessment of the county's financial outlook, which identified several conditions, including a trend of stable and healthy finances and manageable debt burden.
Bill To Ban Fracking Dies in Senate, Moratorium Possible
A bill to ban hydraulic fracking for natural gas has died in a Senate committee, but a bill that impose a moratorium on the practice remains very much alive. Senate Bill 514 was defeated in committee Tuesday, but an accompanying House bill remains technically alive. But with the Senate defeat, it makes passage through both Chambers doubtful.
House Fire Remains Under Investigation
The cause of Tuesday morning's house fire in Oakland is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office. It was first reported just before 10 a.m. at 252 Maple Street in Friendsville. Six people were displaced by the fire, and there were no injuries. The American Red Cross is currently assisting the victims. Responding were the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department and the Northern Garrett EMS.
Summons Served on Elkton Woman
A 24-year old Elkton, Maryland woman was served with a criminal summons, in connection with a complaint that was received on February 25th. A man reported that his vehicle had been damaged and a tire was slashed; Phillips was identified as a suspect. She was charged with destruction of property less than $500, and willfully tampering with a motor vehicle.
Senators Introduce Canal Bill
Maryland U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have re-introduced legislation to ensure the continued involvement of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Advisory Commission in decisions that affect the park itself. The Advisory Commission was established more than 40 years ago to provide a vital link between the surrounding communities and the National Park Service in overseeing the operation, maintenance and restoration of the historic park.
Police to Monitor Somerset Schools
The Somerset Borough Council has approved a plan to have a borough police officer monitor all four Somerset Area Schools on a daily basis. The district will pay $32 an hour for a school resource officer to be in the district buildings eight hours a day for 176 days of the school year. They will serve on a four-day rotation, and school officials say they hope to get grants to pay for the protection.
Mandicott Elected to State Board
Frostburg State University's Bill Mandicott has been elected to a three-year term of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies' Board of Directors. As part of a rigorous nomination process, state arts agencies elected five outstanding leaders at the most recent NASAA Assembly in Washington, D.C. Mandicott has 30 years of professional experience in student affairs administration. He is currently the assistant vice president for Student and Community Involvement at FSU, and is former chair and artistic curator of FSU's Cultural Events Series.
Preston County Animal Shelter Temporarily Closing
At an emergency meeting this week, it was decided to temporarily close the Preston County Animal Shelter, as officials attempt to account for missing money and re-organize the operation. Controversy has been brewing at the shelter for several weeks, as the former director, Courtney Austin, has been at odds with the commissioners over postings on social media. Ms. Austin has since been dismissed for insubordination. She allegedly make comments about the shelter that were untrue; she has denied those claims.
Decision on Sex Offender Registry Sparks Discussion
A Maryland Court of Appeals decision that could allow some sex offenders to have their names removed from the statewide sex offender registry is creating some discussion. It is unclear how the ruling could affect the database. The appeals court ruled this week that a man, identified as John Doe, should have his name take off the registry because the requirement to do so violates the state constitution's restrictions on retroactive punishment. There are more than 8300 people on the sex offender registry in the state. Of that number, 1800 committed crimes before 1995, the year the database was created.