ONLINE ABSENTEE VOTING: Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks, Glynis Kazanjian reports for MarylandReporter.com.
JAKE’S LAW: Of the nearly 150 bills Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law Monday morning, one bore the name of a 5-year-old boy from South Baltimore who died in 2011 after a distracted driver chatting on his cellphone plowed into the back of Jake Owen’s family car without hitting the brakes, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.
POT DECRIMINALIZATION: Pat Warren of WJZ-TV reports that O’Malley also signed into law a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
- The law will remove the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana but O’Malley cautioned against legalizing the drug, as Colorado and Washington state have done recently, writes John Wagner in the Post.
- Fines are supposed to go up for anyone caught with the drug more than once, but Scott Shellenberger, the state’s attorney of Baltimore County, says it will be hard for police to establish whether a person has been charged before. Since marijuana possession will no longer be a crime, it will not show up in the criminal database, according to an AP story in the Frederick News Post.
- The editorial board for the Sun says that Maryland is right to be cautious about legalizing pot, but decriminalization addresses some of the worst problems of the war on drugs. It adds that in 2010, Baltimore City police made 64,525 arrests, and more than 7,000 of them — 11% of the total — were for simple possession of marijuana, representing thousands of man-hours by Baltimore City police, Central Booking officials, prosecutors, public defenders, judges and others, all of whom had better things to do.
BAIL HEARING SOLUTION: Negotiations over how to deal with a Court of Appeals decision mandating representation at all bail hearings went deep into this legislative session. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record talk about the patchwork solution reached by state lawmakers.
BAY ACIDIFICATION BILL: A bill that the General Assembly passed on the final day of the session would create a task force to evaluate effects of acidification in the Chesapeake Bay and other state waters and make recommendations on how to address the issue. House Bill 118, which would form the task force and charge it to make recommendations by Jan. 1, 2015, passed with bipartisan support, CNS’s Brian Compere writes in the Salisbury Daily Times. Gov. Martin O’Malley has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation.
SHALE STUDY REPORT: A looming deadline for a state report on Marcellus Shale drilling should be pushed back, according to environmental activists and members of a state commission tasked with studying the issue. The Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission was scheduled to meet Monday morning. With 110 days left before an Aug. 1 deadline, some say the commission needs more time to complete its work, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
36th DISTRICT CANDIDATES: According to the Chestertown Spy, Rod Heinze will discuss his candidacy for election as delegate representing the 36th Legislative District in Maryland’s General Assembly with the Community Breakfast Group at its breakfast meeting on April 17. Mike Smigiel will discuss his candidacy with CBG at its breakfast meeting on April 24.
LGBT GROUP BACKS FROSH: Equality Maryland has endorsed Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, for attorney general, calling him a “firm ally” of the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.
- Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said Frosh has been “a firm ally and leader” on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Marylanders, John Wagner of the Post writes.
SUPPORTING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: CNS’s Lyle Kendrick, writing in the Annapolis Capital, reports that Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates agree alternative energy resources are important for growing a sustainable economy. But Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur are calling for the state to develop more alternative energy resources than the O’Malley’s administration has planned.
BROWN PUSHES AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown on Monday proposed a more than 10-fold increase in annual funding for a state-run affordable housing grant program, part of a larger plan he said seeks to “ensure that every Marylander has a place to call home,” reports the Post’s John Wagner.
SAYLOR ON SON’S DEATH: Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News-Post reports that Patti Saylor will share the story of her son Ethan’s death before a congressional committee later this month. Ethan Saylor, 26, died while he was being forcibly removed from a Frederick movie theater by off-duty sheriff’s deputies in January 2013. Saylor, who had Down syndrome, died of asphyxiation while he was being removed in handcuffs.
O’MALLEY TO KEYNOTE IN NEVADA:Gov. Martin O’Malley has been booked in Las Vegas next month as part of an ongoing effort to broaden his exposure in advance of a possible 2016 presidential run, reports John Wagner for the Post. The Clark County Democratic Party announced Monday that O’Malley would be the keynote speaker at its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on May 2.
EHRLICH, BENTLEY BACK DIFFERENT HORSES: In the race for Anne Arundel County executive, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich urged several thousand primary voters to pick Steve Schuh, saying incumbent Laura Neuman has no record as a committed Republican. Hours after the Schuh campaign put out a statement Monday about Ehrlich’s letter, Neuman’s campaign responded with its own announcement. She picked up the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, praising her “brand of conservative Republican leadership,” reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.