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A Female Majority For MD’s Highest Court, Harris Backs Constitutional Ban Of Same Sex Marriage

Maryland is poised to have a female majority on its highest court. First District Congressman Andy Harris is co-sponsoring a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. A proposed ban on kiosks where people can turn in their old cell phones and electronics for cash has been put on hold in Baltimore City for at least three months. Plus: new leadership for MD’s Transportation Department and the MD Energy Administration, cracking down on drunk driving, a Monday tornado has been confirmed in PG County, and more.

Female Majority For MD’s Highest Court: Maryland is poised to have a female majority on its highest court – for the first time in the Court of Appeals’ more than two-century history. The Baltimore Sun reports that Governor O’Malley is set to appoint Court of Appeals Judge Mary Ellen Barbara to be high court’s chief justice, and to elevate Court of Special Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts to a seat left vacant retiring Chief Judge Robert M. Bell. That’ll mean that four of the seven judges on the Court of Appeals will be women. 

New Leadership At MD Transportation Department, MD Energy Administration: Maryland officially has new leadership at the top of its Transportation department. The Baltimore Sun reports that Governor Martin O’Malley yesterday swore in former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith to be the state’s new Transportation secretary. The governor yesterday also swore in longtime aide Abigail Hopper as director of the Maryland Energy Administration.

Harris Co-Sponsors Constitutional Amendment Banning Same Sex Marriage: Maryland’s only Republican in Congress – Andy Harris, of the First District – is co-sponsoring a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He’s one of 29 co-sponsors of the measure, which would prevent state constitutions to require that marriage be conferred upon same-sex couples. Last week, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, meaning that same-sex couples who’ve been married in states where it’s legal will be able to file joint state and federal returns. Same sex marriage became legal in Maryland at the beginning of this year, after voters approved it in the November 2012 election; but the Baltimore Sun notesthat the majority of voters in Harris’s district opposed the measure.

Cell Phone Recycling: A proposed ban on kiosks where people can turn in their old cell phones and electronics for cash has been put on hold in Baltimore City… at least, for now. The Baltimore Sun reports that the City Council yesterday directed the city’s Police Department to work with the company ecoATM to come up with a system that’ll allow the investigations of whether devices sold through the self-service machines it operates were stolen. Some members of the city council had been calling for a ban of the kiosks, saying that they may encourage theft. ecoATM will work with the city’s police department for the next three months to figure out the best solution. 

City Violence And A 'Conspiracy Of Silence': WYPR's Fraser Smith and “Not In My Neighborhood” author Antero Pietila talk about the recent shootings in Baltimore and the role that city residents may play in perpetuating the violence. It’s today’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Baltimore Firefighters Not Getting Raises: Leaders of Baltimore’s fire union are unhappy that its members are not receiving raises this year. City fire union president Rick Hoffman tells the Baltimore Sun city officials should have given firefighters the two percent pay increases that city union employees are receiving. A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake says several proposals were made for firefighter raises, but each was rejected by the union.

Efforts To Crack Down On Drunk Driving: Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown made a stop in Howard County yesterday to launch a new statewide effort to curtail drunk driving. As WJZ reports, state and law enforcement officials joined Brown at the State Police Barrack in Jessup to unveil the State Police Impaired Driving Effort, or SPIDRE. It's a DUI-focused patrol team that will be closely monitoring Maryland roadways over the next four years.

Warrant Initiative Brings Results: Baltimore police say that a two-week warrant initiative has taken some 279 offenders off the streets. WBAL reports that notable arrests included three warrants for murder, seven for attempted murder, three for witness intimidation, eight for hand gun violations and more than 90 for assault. 

Holiday MARC Schedule: A reminder that MARC trains are offering extra service this afternoon, to help folks kick off their Independence Day holiday. Midday and early afternoon trains are operating with extra cars. But there’s no MARC service for the 4th of July tomorrow… and limited service on Friday, when Penn and Brunswick line trains will be on an “S” schedule, and there’ll be no service on the Camden line. The MTA has full holiday schedule information here.

Monday Twister In PG Confirmed: The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down in Prince George’s County on Monday. The Baltimore Sun reports that the twister traveled more than two miles in the area; the storm caused minimal property damage, and no one was hurt. 

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles lost to the Chicago White Sox last night; the score was 5 to 2. The two teams play again tonight in the Windy City.