COPS ON POT BILLS: Current and former law enforcement officers took opposing sides Tuesday in the debate over whether or not to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana or even legalize the recreational use of the drug, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
- At a news conference and at a Senate hearing, law enforcement leaders warned that loosening marijuana laws would undermine drug enforcement across the board, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser are reporting in the Sun. They said it would be premature to pass a bill following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state, which recently legalized pot, and opposed a separate measure that would treat possession as a minor civil offense.
- Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson said he “absolutely” believes marijuana use leads to the use of harder drugs and that was one of his main motivations for attending the hearing with fellow members of the state sheriffs association, which has taken an official stand against the bills to legalize the drug, Matthew Bieniek reports in the Cumberland Times-News.
- College students, parents, police officers and others packed a Maryland state Senate committee hearing room, awaiting their turn to speak about bills that would allow marijuana to be bought, sold, regulated and taxed like alcohol, or at least reduce the penalties to something like a traffic ticket for possession of small amounts, Frederick Kunkle writes for the Post.
SMOKE GOT IN HIS EYES: Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop learned the hard way that not everything on the Internet is, shall we say, to be trusted, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. And Pristoop could have saved himself some embarrassment if he’d just done a little investigative work before he testified with other law enforcement officials against legalization of marijuana. “The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose,” Pristoop said.
- Sen. Jamie Raskin, who has proposed a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the drug, immediately fact-checked Pristoop, Alex Jackson reports in the Annapolis Capital. “Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here,” Raskin said. “Your assertion … was a hoax on the DailyCurrant and the Comedy Central website.” Jackson also got comment from Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides.
- “When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Raskin said in an email to the Post, writes Frederick Kunkle.
- Sean Welsh of the Sun reports that Pristoop issued an apology later on Tuesday for the inaccurate statements, saying “I believed the information I obtained was accurate but I now know the story is nothing more than an urban legend.”
ARBITRATION ORDERED: A federal judge ordered two former lead contractors on Maryland’s health exchange into arbitration to settle their differences, reports Meredith Cohn in the Sun. Noridian Healthcare Solutions, once the exchange’s prime contractor, and EngagePoint Inc., its main subcontractor, had been tied up in a court battle since shortly after the exchange’s botched launch.
- The companies countersued each other about what obligation EngagePoint had under its contract to relay information to Noridian that Noridian may have needed to continue to provide services to Maryland, reports the Post’s Mary Pat Flaherty.
HEALTH EXCHANGE FUTURE: Maryland health leaders could decide by the end of March whether to hold on to its flawed health exchange or turn it over to federal administrators, writes Sarah Gantz for the Baltimore Business Journal. The exchange’s ongoing technical problems and the state’s difficulty bringing the system up to speed have led administrators to question whether the system is worth maintaining in the future.
DOG BITE COMPROMISE: WYPR’s Joel McCord and Kate Alexander of the Gazette talk about how the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is trying to compromise with the House of Delegates to get a dog bite liability law that is breed-neutral.
AFFORDABLE COLLEGE: Grappling with the issue of affordability in higher education, lawmakers are taking suggestions and drafting legislation to ease the financial burden Maryland college students face. Members of the Senate Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee and the House Education and Economic Development Subcommittee heard Monday from administrators from institutions across the state as well as representatives from the Maryland Higher Education Commission, reports Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com.
RESEARCH ANIMALS: Maryland may soon bar medical and science facilities from testing on cats and dogs not bred for research. The ‘Class B’ dogs and cats often come from animal shelters and are bought by research facilities instead of bred for research, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. “That’s just cruel because these are dogs that have been socialized to be with humans, and then, of course, they now become research tools,” said Sen. Lisa Gladden, sponsor of the Senate bill.
SEWAGE REMEDIATION CHARGE: A bill introduced last Friday by Sen. Richard Colburn seeks to establish a sewage and sludge remediation charge for Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission ratepayers, Josh Bollinger reports in the Easton Star Democrat.
WI-FI TRACKING: A bill proposed to the House Economics Committee on Friday would prohibit Maryland retailers from using consumer cell phone Wi-Fi signals to track their shopping habits, unless merchants post notices at store entrances, CNS’s Patrick Farrell reports in the Cecil Whig.
AT FILING DEADLINE: Dozens of state, local and congressional candidates filed papers just ahead of Tuesday evening’s deadline to run in the June 24 Maryland primary, including one who added a surprise twist to the race for a Montgomery County Council seat, report Bill Turque and John Wagner in the Post.
- Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the filing window for Wicomico County Council and county executive, State House and the Eastern Shore’s Congressional District closed Tuesday at 9 p.m. She outlines who is running for what office.
- Maryland Senate incumbents who were running unopposed picked up challengers at Tuesday’s filing deadline, but other senators without any opponents must wait until Monday to find out if the opposition parties will name a candidate to run against them, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. In Baltimore County’s District 8, former Republican Del. John Bishop will run as a Democrat challenging Democratic Sen. Kathy Klausmeier.
FRICK DROPS AG BID: After weeks of speculation, Del. Bill Frick announced Tuesday night that he will seek re-election to the House of Delegates rather than run for attorney general, Bryan Sears reports in the Daiy Record.
- Frick, who had been campaigning for higher office for months, reversed course about one hour before Maryland’s 9 p.m. filing deadline. Despite an energetic campaign, he had gained little traction in the Democratic primary, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.
- Frick’s decision is not entirely a surprise, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. He is a well-regarded legislator who has been given some plum assignments by House Speaker Michael Busch.
ALSTON SEEKS COMEBACK: Former Del. Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s launched a comeback bid Tuesday night, arriving at the State Board of Elections to file for her old seat just 20 minutes before the 9 p.m. deadline, reports John Wagner in the Post.
- The 36-year-old former lawmaker pleaded guilty in June 2012 to misconduct in office and the theft of $800 from her delegate office account to pay expenses of her law firm. In October of that year she pleaded no contest to a charge she used campaign money to pay some of the expenses of her wedding, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.
GEORGE PICKS RUNNING MATE: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron George, a two-term delegate from Anne Arundel County, presented Shelley Aloi as his choice for lieutenant governor at an Annapolis news conference. Tuesday was the last day to file candidacy papers for the June 24 primary. Aloi, 53, served a single term as an alderman, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.
- The state delegate from Anne Arundel County said he chose Aloi as his running mate because of her experience both in business and community service, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. The two will work together to advance George’s plan for lowering taxes to improve the state’s economic climate, they said.
PANTELIDES FOR SCHUH & NEUMAN: Republican Anne Arundel county executive candidate Steve Schuh sent out invitations from Mayor Mike Pantelides to a meet-and-greet in Annapolis in two weeks, reports Jack Lambert for the Annapolis Capital. Although Pantelides is happy to appear at the event, he is not endorsing either county executive candidate. Instead, he will help both Schuh and Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman before the June 24 Anne Arundel County Republican primary election.