“Peace Cross” Can Stand, Supreme Court Says
Governor Larry Hogan addresses a crowd at the "Peace Cross" in Prince George's County
“Peace Cross” Can Stand, Supreme Court Says

The U.S. Supreme Court today, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that a 40-foot World War I memorial in the shape of a Christian cross on public land does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The justices held that the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which bars the government from unduly favoring one religion over another, does not require the removal of the monument from its location in a traffic median in Bladensburg “This is a great victory…

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Doctors Dismissed from Local Opioid Lawsuit

Across the nation, all eyes are on the status of the many lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. In recent weeks, there have been big settlements in some states and complete dismissal in others. Locally, litigation pursued by Anne Arundel County in state court against the big industry players and local prescribers hit a speed bump when the judge dismissed the charges against the doctors on what can be described as a technicality. From The…

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Federal Courts Continue to Grapple with Sign Restriction Cases

A Route Fifty article (2019-05-20) reported that the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the City of Bel-Nor, Missouri from enforcing a local sign law that prohibits a resident from displaying more than one sign at a time on their property. The article noted that the holding is a follow-up on a 2015 US Supreme Court Case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that setting specific guidelines for different types of signs was unconstitutional. After…

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Wynnes Challenge Constitutionality of Maryland’s Tax Repayment Remedy

A Daily Record article (2019-05-23) provided an update on the efforts of Brian and Karen Wynne, who are currently challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's tax repayment remedy. The remedy was put in place after the Wynnes won a 2015 United State Supreme Court decision striking down Maryland's prohibition on deducting from local income taxes any out-of-state income or taxes paid. The Wynnes initially challenged Maryland's prohibition on the local income tax deduction and the case when all…

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Drug Companies Are Settling With States. How Will The Money Be Spent?

The answer most advocates and stakeholders are hoping for is on prevention, treatment, and other programs directly addressing the opioid crisis. A piece from Governing explores how some states plan to spend their payout money and what has been learned from the tobacco settlements. In Oklahoma, nearly $200 million of its $270 million payout from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, will go toward establishing the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment…

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Howard Latest County to File Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

Howard County has filed a complaint in Howard County Circuit Court against Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers and distributors. Howard joins a number of jurisdictions including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Carroll, Harford, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Baltimore City, and the state of Maryland that have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers in distributors either in federal or state court. From The Baltimore Sun: In Howard County, more than 130 people, 38 of those from 2018 alone,…

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Court Case Highlights Murky Area Between Discovery & the PIA

A Daily Record article (2019-05-09) highlighted the murky area that exists between the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) and discovery for a criminal or civil case. The article reported that Baltimore County has accused plaintiffs in an ongoing federal lawsuit against the County are trying to circumvent the normal discovery process by making PIA requests. The County has sent a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow asking for the Court's intervention. Court rules prohibit parties…

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Pension Benefit Case Holds Baltimore City Liable to Retirees but Not Active Members

A Daily Record article (2019-05-13) reported that a recent circuit court case held that  Baltimore City is liable for damages based on changes made to its police and firefighter pension system that eliminated a benefit. However, the damages only apply to retirees and retirement-eligible members and do not apply to other active members of the pension system. The case is Robert F. Cherry Jr. et al. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore City and the opinion…

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Medical Marijuana at Work: Where Is the Line Drawn?

States, including Maryland, have moved to legalize medically-recommended marijuana - but frequently without altering workplace laws. Courts may be moving in the employees' direction. Medical cannabis has been approved in more than 30 states, but most of them have not made accompanying changes to workplace protections. Can an employee, using marijuana in compliance with that state's process for legal purchase and use, be disciplined or terminated for showing signs on the job? Is the need…

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Federal District Court Orders EPA to Enforce Methane Reduction Requirements on Landfills

An article in The Hill (2019-05-07) reported that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must being enforcing mandatory methane-reduction requirements for landfills. The regulations, enacted under the former administration of President Barack Obama were put on hold pending a review under the administration of President Donald Trump. The case was brought by California and seven other states, including Maryland, after EPA…

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