March 20, 2014

State Roundup, March 20, 2014

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RAISING ALL WAGES: The governor’s proposal to raise the minimum wage hit a snag Wednesday as a key senator said he would block the legislation until the administration agreed to increase pay for workers who care for developmentally disabled individuals, Erin Cox and Tim Wheeler of the Sun report.

LEGISLATORS’ PAY RAISE: If legislators do nothing to stop it in the next 19 days, members of the Maryland General Assembly elected this fall — including probably two-thirds of the current members — will get a 16% raise over the next four years, bringing their annual salaries to $50,330. They currently make $43,500 for what is technically a part-time job, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

LAWMAKERS’ HOUSING ALLOWANCE: Lawmakers in Anne Arundel County will continue to be able to use state money to stay in hotels during the General Assembly’s 90-day session. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee voted to give Senate Bill 421 an unfavorable report. Under the bill, senators and delegates living within 50 miles of the State House would not be reimbursed for lodging during the General Assembly session, writes Alex Jackson for the Annapolis Capital.

PROTECTING BLACK COLLEGES: After a federal judge found that Maryland’s historically black colleges face unfair and unconstitutional competition from the state’s predominantly white universities, the parties headed into negotiations this month to work it out, writes Carrie Wells in the Sun. But even with the far-reaching court decision, some worried the rights of black institutions wouldn’t be protected and tried to put the judge’s ruling on the books as state law.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: A bill aimed at making marijuana available as a medical remedy for conditions such as childhood epilepsy has cleared one side of the state legislature, and lawmakers say it stands a good chance of success in the second, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News Post.

SPACEY TOUTS TAX CREDIT: “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey is booked to appear in Annapolis on Friday night as the fate of a tax credit that has benefited the production of his Netflix series hangs in the balance, writes John Wagner in the Post. Gerard E. Evans, an Annapolis-based lobbyist for the show, has invited the entire Maryland General Assembly to a local wine bar to meet the two-time Academy Award winner who plays the scheming Vice President Frank Underwood in the series.

JAKE’S LAW: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post is encouraging the state Senate to pass Jake’s Law, which puts stiffer penalties on those convicted of distracted driving.

SPEED CAMERA REFORM: The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to approve legislation to tighten the rules under which local governments can use cameras to enforce speed laws, adding new protections for drivers against wrongly issued tickets, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

BA CO HYBRID SCHOOL BOARD: The Maryland Senate unanimously passed legislation that would create a part-elected, part-appointed school board in Baltimore County. An issue that came into the session as as a point of contention moved toward an amicable resolution, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

SUNDAY HUNTING: The General Assembly is poised to approve legislation that would allow Sunday hunting on public and private land in three western Maryland counties, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

GOOD NEWS: Fraser Smith of WYPR finds that there is good news to report amid all the bad in the health care exchange debacle.

COLBURN SIGNS ON TO POULTRY LITTER BILL: About 24 hours after mid-Shore Sen. Richard Colburn delayed a vote on the poultry litter to energy bill over the economic analysis, he added his name to the legislation, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. Colburn said after talking with the Maryland Farm Bureau and Delmarva Poultry, Inc. he thought moving the bill forward was the best option.

CHEVY CHASE & THE PURPLE LINE: Some people have more money than good judgment, writes Post columnist Robert McCartney. A current example is the Town of Chevy Chase, an affluent patch of 1,000 households tucked between two venerable country clubs in Montgomery County. It has more than $8 million of accumulated tax revenue that it’s not sure how to spend. The uncertainty hasn’t hindered one cause, however. The Town Council voted last month to devote up to $350,000 to a last-gasp lobbying bid to move the Purple Line away from the long-planned route along the town’s northern border.

FEDERAL COURT CASES FALL IN MD: Maryland’s federal court saw fewer filings in the last year, with civil case filings dropping 1.7% and criminal filings dipping 8.6% compared to the previous year, Kristi Tousignant reports in the Daily Record. The drop in civil case filings here ran contrary to the national trend, which saw a 2.2% increase. And, while criminal filings also fell across the country, the decline was only 3.3%, according to figures compiled by the Federal Judiciary in its annual Judicial Business of the United States Courts report.

DELEGATE WRITES MEMOIR OF FOSTER CARE: Del. C.T. Wilson, a Democrat from Charles County, recounts a detailed, graphic and emotionally raw account of the first instance of sexual abuse in “10,000 Hills: A Little Boy’s Journey.” He’s hoping to raise a lot of questions to help repair the foster care system, writes Margaret Sessa-Hawkins for MarylandReporter.com.

O’MALLEY & THE CRIME ISSUE: His stance on gay marriage, gun control and the tax code is patently progressive, but there’s one area where Martin O’Malley’s liberal label doesn’t fit. The Maryland Senate on Friday voted to decriminalize marijuana, and the bill, if it passes the House of Delegates, will head to the governor’s desk for a signature. Its passage could put O’Malley, who built a name for himself as the “tough on crime” mayor of Baltimore Cityin the early 2000s, in a strange position not just vis-a-vis his state, but nationally, Lucia Graves writes in the National Journal.

GOP FANTASYLAND: Laslo Boyd, writing for Center Maryland, dissects the websites of the state’s Republican candidates for governor and decides that there are very good reasons that none has a chance to win against a Democrat. All speak in generalities and none reflects the reality of the state that they currently live in.

GANSLER AD RECALLS ‘TANGO’ INCIDENT: In the second television ad from his gubernatorial campaign, Attorney General Doug Gansler highlights an episode from 14 years ago in which he criticized a judge for saying “it takes two to tango” during a sex-offense case involving a young girl, writes John Wagner for the Post.

DISQUALIFIED CANDIDATE SAYS HE’LL APPEAL: Republican candidate Brian Charles Vaeth, who has been disqualified from the race for Maryland governor, has said he would appeal the ruling of the Maryland State Board of Elections, reports Alex Jackson for the Annapolis Capital. On Wednesday, the elections board defended the decision and said it has yet to receive an appeal.

LEGGETT VS. DUNCAN: Like Lord Voldemort at Hogwarts, Doug Duncan lurks between the lines of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s 2015 operating budget as a “He Who Must Not Be Named.” In his budget letter to the County Council on Monday, Leggett never identifies his predecessor and opponent in the June Democratic primary, writes Bill Turque in the Post. But he depicts Duncan as a profligate and reckless spender during Duncan’s three terms from 1994 to 2006.

FREDERICK ARREST CASE: A legal case that began with deputies questioning a Hispanic woman who was eating a sandwich could be heard in the Supreme Court of the United States, Danielle Gaines reports in the Frederick News Post. The high court will consider Friday whether to hear Frederick County’s challenge to a federal appeals court decision that deputies may not detain or arrest a person based solely on a civil violation of immigration law.

  • Vidi

    Glad to see that the minimum wage bill has hit a snag due to pay issues related to those who provide services to the disabled. These providers, unlike those in the fast food and retail industries, receive extensive training, work very hard to provide a decent quality of life to the disabled and have responsibilities much greater than those who flip burgers.