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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's chief judge says the state's judiciary is helping more people who can't afford legal counsel to better represent themselves in civil legal matters.

Judge Mary Ellen Barbera gave her State of the Judiciary Address on Wednesday.

She says since 2015 the Maryland Judiciary has funded four additional self-help centers, phone and online chat services and educational videos that provide legal advice for matters in the district and circuit courts.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland officials want new rules to require state contractors to notify the state at least 30 days before a company is sold to a foreign entity, a move prompted after state officials learned last summer a Russian oligarch was heavily invested in a company that maintained key parts of the state's election infrastructure.

The three-member Board of Public Works asked board staff to draft the new regulations at a meeting Wednesday.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A Temple University law school graduate has pleaded guilty in a case that prompted Delaware's Supreme Court to overturn the state's death penalty law.

The News Journal reports 29-year-old Benjamin Rauf pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a weapons charge in the drug-related 2015 killing of classmate Shazim Uppal.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - The completion of a natural gas pipeline running through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina has been delayed and its costs are increasing by up to $3 billion.

The Fayetteville Observer reports Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC announced Friday that the 600-mile (965-kilometer) pipeline is not expected to be in full service until 2021. It was initially expected to be in service this year.

The project was projected to cost between $4.5 billion and $5 billion when first announced. Now the company projects a total cost of $7 billion to $7.5 billion.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Another top Virginia Democrat has admitted to wearing blackface decades ago. Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement Wednesday saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a black rapper during a party as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia.
 
The revelation further roils the top levels of Virginia government. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax are already facing controversies, and Herring would be next in line to be governor after those two men.
 

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(AP) A Republican lawmaker and close friend of Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he believes the governor will remain in office based on their frequent conversations.

State Sen. Richard Stuart told The Associated Press that he speaks daily to Northam and talked to him on Tuesday.

Stuart said he believes the governor won't resign after Northam told him he felt responsibility to stay in office and make amends. He said the governor told him that he doesn't intend to run away from the problem.

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NEW YORK (AP) - The racist photo on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's yearbook page wasn't the only thing that disgusted Monifa Bandele. She was especially appalled that the image was published as he was graduating from medical school on his way to become a pediatrician.

The 1984 photo has stirred a national political furor and reopened the long history of bigotry in American medicine. The revelations about Northam gave many African-Americans a new reason to be distrustful of doctors.

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The referendum to expand the Indian River School District campuses has failed.

The tax increase lost by a vote of just over 38-hundred to 31-hundred.

Superintendent Mark Steele told the Wilmington News Journal that he was disappointed in the outcome but respected the voter’s wishes.

The referendum was an effort to deal with a rapidly growing student population.

He told the paper that Sussex Central is so crowded that students must shuffle through the halls “like a group of zombies”.

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Delaware Corrections officials told state lawmakers… that the department still faces staffing a shortage similar to the one two years ago after the deadly prison riot that took the life of Officer Steven Floyd.

Corrections Commissioner Perry Phelps made the remarks during his presentation of a $344 million budget before a budget writing committee yesterday.

He said that the department has nearly 17-hundred staff position with 209 vacancies.

WBOC reports that Phelps said there just over 15-hundred rank and file positions -- just 17 more than the time of the riot.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling that a provision in Delaware's constitution requiring a political balance among state court judges is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in favor of James Adams, a lawyer who sued Democratic Gov. John Carney over a constitutional provision that requires the governor to split judicial nominations between the two major political parties. Adams says he wanted to apply for judgeships, but he didn't meet the political affiliation requirements.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - School officials say a Maryland high school student used a racist slur in a social media message after his school's basketball team lost to a team comprised mostly of African American players.

The Capitol Gazette reports a letter sent to parents of students at Broadneck High School informed them of the Snapchat message which features a photo of a student and a caption that officials say was aimed at Annapolis High School players.

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DELAWARE CITY, Del. (AP) - Firefighters in Delaware have twice been summoned in two days to rescue a 2,000-pound Clydesdale horse from various predicaments.

Owner Pam Collacchi tells The News Journal that Bubba "doesn't realize how big he is." On Sunday, Bubba wandered around 25 feet into a creek, becoming mired in near-freezing mud.

Wetsuit-clad rescuers from the Delaware City Fire Company pulled Bubba closer to the bank. Firefighters then tugged hoses strapped around his legs and a truck. Bubba had to be sedated, but was eventually pulled to safety.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland supporters of allowing federal employees who must work during a government shutdown without pay to collect unemployment benefits are hoping to advance legislation as soon as this week.

A Senate committee held a hearing Tuesday. A House committee held a hearing last week.

Lawmakers filed the legislation in response to the recent 35-day shutdown. Lawmakers have filed the bill as emergency legislation, hoping it would take effect quickly. The measure's supporters have expressed concern about another potential shutdown after Feb. 15.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Legislation in Maryland would create a panel to draft a blueprint for where solar projects could be built while protecting forests and agricultural land.

Sen. Paul Pinsky said Tuesday the state needs a plan to fulfill a commitment to clean energy while protecting important natural resources.

The state commission would include officials, farmers, representatives from solar power companies and environmental and preservation communities.

The measure has been filed in response to recent local opposition to solar projects.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A chemical plant owner has repaid the Delaware River and Bay Authority nearly $150,000 in lost revenue after a toxic gas leak forced a bridge to close for hours in 2018.

Robert Stewart with Croda Inc. said in a Tuesday statement that reimbursing the DRBA is the right thing to do.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A political death watch took shape at Virginia's Capitol as Gov. Ralph Northam consulted with top administration officials Monday about whether to resign amid a furor over a racist photo in his 1984 yearbook.

Practically all of the state's Democratic establishment - and Republican leaders, too - turned against the 59-year-old Democrat after the picture surfaced late last week of someone in blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. The photo was on Northam's medical school yearbook page.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Nine inmates charged in a Delaware correctional officer's murder during a riot are suing corrections officials, alleging that they were abused.

News outlets report that Dwayne Stats, who has said he organized the 2017 uprising, filed the federal lawsuit last month with eight other inmates claiming inmates were "physically, mentally and emotionally" abused by those running the state's prisons. These inmates weren't permitted to be part of a similar class-action lawsuit filed by inmates who weren't charged in the riot.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Authorities have identified the suspect in a shooting that critically wounded a hospital employee in an ambulance bay at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Baltimore police said 26-year old Jamar Haughton is charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and several firearm related charges. He was being held Monday evening at the Central Booking and Intake Facility.

Hospital officials said the shooting happened outside the downtown Baltimore hospital around 7 a.m. Monday.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A measure to allow federal employees who must work during a government shutdown without pay to collect unemployment benefits is getting a hearing in a Maryland Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday. Lawmakers filed the legislation in response to the recent 35-day shutdown.

The measure would apply to civilian federal employees who are required to work at a site in Maryland.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland lawmakers have formed a committee to consider candidates for the office of treasurer.

House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announced the 10-member committee of state legislators Monday.

The treasurer is elected every four years by the General Assembly.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Emergency legislation designed to confirm Virginia's tax code with new federal tax law has failed in the House of Delegates.

The failure could leave the state unable to immediately process thousands of tax returns it's already received for the 2018 tax year.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that a House bill proposed by Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, failed to receive the 80 votes needed to pass emergency legislation. The bill died Monday on a 63-35 vote.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, is clinging to office amid rising calls from within his own party to resign over a photo of someone in blackface in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

Northan denies being in the yearbook photo even though he had apologized for it Friday and said previously that he was in it.

The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus said Sunday that Northam "still does not understand the seriousness of his actions."

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A fire at the Delaware City Refinery broke out at noon yesterday taking fire crews nearly five hours before the blaze was under control.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that one firefighter was treated for an unrelated medical problem.

Jamie Bethard with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said that his agency would be trying to understand how the blaze began.

State Senator Nicole Poore issued a statement saying that there were no environmental issues in the area.

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The 28th annual Polar Bear Plunge saw over 33-hundred take to the water in 39 degree water on Sunday.

WBOC reports that the Rehoboth Beach event sponsored by Wawa raised just over $900-thousand.
The funds go toward the Special Olympics Delaware that has more than 42-hundred participants from the state.

Over its lifetime it has raise nearly $12 million.

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GREENSBORO, Md. (AP) - The police chief of a small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore where an African American teenager died in custody is stepping down, but he says his departure isn't connected to the case that fueled an outcry.

The Baltimore Sun reports Mike Petyo's last day in Greensboro was Thursday. Greensboro is where 19-year-old Anton Black died in September, following a police chase and struggle with officers.

A county prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges. A state autopsy concluded a heart condition and stress contributed to Black's death.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a Maryland lawsuit against President Donald Trump's administration for what it portrayed as recurring efforts to dismantle the national health care law.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander writes in her Friday decision that there's no question about Trump's deep disdain for the Affordable Care Act. But she found the state's allegations "speculative."

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's state House and Senate are working on competing versions of the state budget as a deadline approaches.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports the House Appropriations approved its revised two-year budget that includes extra money for teacher and state employee pay, an offer of money to colleges and universities to forestall tuition increases. It also includes down payments on high-tech education initiatives for Amazon and the state's growing technology business sector.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's top court will consider arguments in a case involving teenager and whether she was involved in distributing child pornography when she texted a video of herself and a man engaging in a sex act.

The Daily Record of Baltimore reports the Court of Appeals heard arguments Friday in the sexting case, which also involves whether the state's ban on displaying obscene material applies to text messages.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Republican senator in Maryland who wants owners to pay for the care of animals seized in cruelty cases says his bill needs more work before it can pass.

The Carroll County Times reports Sen. Justin Ready of Carroll County presented his bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A Maryland restaurant owner who says she received death threats for the anti-Trump poster in her establishment says she nearly sold out of her food after people learned of the threats.

Rosalyn Vera tells the Baltimore Sun that she nearly sold out of the Mexican street food Saturday at her restaurant, Cocina Luchadoras, in Baltimore.

Vera says a man called her business twice Thursday threatening to harm her and burn down her restaurant if she did not take down the poster. She reported the calls to police.

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