Much to Blog About...

I have been a little under the weather the last few days, and so have not gotten the blogging online that I've intended to. I will be posting stuff later in the weekend or early next week, but in the meanwhile here are some "teasers": 1) I testified in Annapolis Tuesday, in support of HB 283, a bill by Maryland State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, before the House Ways and Means Committee, that would require the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to provide college aid to any would-be students who qualify for it under the state's own standards -- e.g., if they've lost federal aid because of a drug conviction, a law to which the state does not have an analogue -- MHEC has to process their applications for state aid anyway, even if it means a little extra work to do so. (Currently MHEC simply using the federal FAFSA system, and so students with drug convictions fall through the cracks, as they do in 34 other states. This is the second year in a row Gutierrez has offered this legislation; I also testified last year; also testifying this year were SSDP's Kris Krane and UMD SSDP's Anastacia Cosner. MHEC this year as last year submitted written informational testimony on the bill, neither supporting nor opposing it. There are reasons to believe they would prefer it not pass, and that they hope to get around having to implement it if it does. Furthermore, they made some real screw-ups leading up to the hearing, and have kind of stepped in it; more on that later. Del. Gutierrez talked about our report (link previous paragraph) in her own testimony and urged legislators to read it, which was cool. We don't have a lot of time to rally support for this, maybe only another week; if you live in Maryland and can help (in ways large or small) please write to me. More about this soon, including copies of our testimony, links to UMD news coverage and more. 2) Our sign-on letter to Congress calling for repeal of the aforementioned federal law, and asking members of the US House of Representatives to cosponsor the Barney Frank repeal bill was delivered this week -- 170 organizational signatories! The total number of groups on record calling for full repeal is now up to about 335, if I counted correctly. Links and more info coming soon. 3) I got to pose a question about the opium trade in Afghanistan and eradication programs to CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen at a forum at the New America Foundation this week (right across the street from our office, actually). His response was both positive (from our perspective) and interesting. I'll be posting a transcript of the exchange with some comments in a separate post. 4) The Lou Dobbs segment on the marijuana legalization movement was not the ultimately slam of us, nor were the remaining segments in his drug war sequence. Nor, however, does the series qualify as quality journalism, and some of it I found kind of offensive. More on this soon. By the way, my take-off on Dobbs' drug war editorial has gotten nearly 3,800 reads so far. A special thanks to all of you who showed an interest, especially those who forwarded it around on sites like stumbleupon.com. - Dave
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