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Better mushing through satellite

Germantown-based Hughes Network Systems has shipped more than 3 million satellite systems to about 100 countries, including to some fairly remote territory. Now the company’s clients include “mushers” in a major dog sledding race.

On Saturday, Hughes began providing broadband satellite Internet access to racers, or “mushers,” participating in the Yukon Quest, an annual 1,000-mile race through remote territory between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon, in Canada. Internet access allows more immediate communication with the mushers via email and Internet phone service in case they need aid.

Journalists covering the race — which lasts 10 to 14 days depending on weather and other factors — also are using Hughes’ system. Brent Sass, 34, a race veteran from Eureka, Alaska, held the lead at the halfway point early Thursday.

— Kevin James Shay

Speed-camera repeal legislation attracts co-sponsors

Speed cameras have attracted considerable interest in the Maryland General Assembly this session, with at least 12 bills to reform the systems introduced so far.

Among those is one filed by Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. that would repeal speed cameras entirely statewide. Some 22 delegates had signed on as co-sponsors as of Thursday, almost double the number of co-sponsors on similar legislation last year. Those included some Frederick County legislators, but no one from Montgomery County, the first entity in Maryland to implement speed cameras.

Officials from Montgomery and other counties fought the repeal legislation last year largely on public safety grounds. Montgomery County alone grossed $17 million in speed camera revenue in fiscal 2013, with about half going toward program expenses and the private contractor.

Another bill filed by Del. Jon S. Cardin would fine camera operators $1,000 for issuing erroneous tickets. The city of Baltimore commissioned an independent audit by URS Corp. of its former speed-camera program involving Xerox Corp. — the same contractor that Montgomery County uses. The audit found that more than 10 percent of citations were issued erroneously, a much higher percentage than officials previously acknowledged, according to published reports. Cardin is calling for independent audits of speed camera systems across Maryland.

The House Environmental Matters Committee is slated to hear the bills Feb. 18.

— Kevin James Shay

Authentic crab

Sometimes, when you order seafood, you get “something fishy” instead.

One Montgomery County lawmaker wants seafood properly identified on labels, signs and menus when it is sold in Maryland, so consumers know exactly what species from the sea they are eating.

Del. Eric Luedtke has introduced a bill requiring the labeling to protect public health, consumers and Maryland fishermen. His legislation strengthens regulations for labeling Maryland’s blue crab, including identifying its origin and limiting sales of products labeled “blue crab” to the actual species, callinectes sapidus.

Marylanders, he said in a news release, deserve to know they get the seafood they order.

According to the website for conservation nonprofit Oceana — which supports Luedtke’s bill — seafood may be mislabeled 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon, and Atlantic cod.

In a statement, Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell said that when she orders Maryland blue crabs, she wants to be certain those crabs were caught in the Chesapeake Bay and she is supporting local fishermen.

— Kate S. Alexander

Mr. Riemer goes to Washington

Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer made a visit to Capitol Hill on Jan. 30 to talk up a Montgomery policy as part of a roundtable on tax issues.

Riemer briefed members of Congress and their staff on the county’s local Earned Income Tax Credit as part of the National Community Tax Coalition’s EITC Awareness Briefing at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

Riemer led a discussion of “the EITC and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Helping Communities,” according to a county press release. He was joined by Amy Matsui, the senior counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, and Shawn McMahon, the acting CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women. Both groups were among the session’s co-sponsors.

Riemer sponsored the county’s Working Families Income Supplement, which passed the council in October and requires the county to match 100 percent of Maryland’s earned income tax credit.

Riemer said he thinks the event, which he estimated drew 50 to 75 people, helped bring attention to the issue of how the tax credit can help people.

— Ryan Marshall