May 7, 2014

State Roundup, May 7, 2014

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***Len Lazarick, editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com, will be speaking at the Montgomery Political Forum today, Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. at the Rockville Public Library. Topics are this past legislative session and the upcoming election. The public is welcome; bring your lunch.***

DEL. CARDIN’S COMMITTEE NO-SHOW: Del. Jon Cardin, the front-runner to become Maryland’s next attorney general, calls himself an active legislator who believes “nothing is more sacred to democracy than the right to vote.” But when it came time to cast votes in the House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis this year, the Baltimore County Democrat repeatedly failed to show up, a fact that could spice up the attorney general’s race, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

LIBERALS TOUGH ROAD: Jenna Johnson of the Post reports that, as the Maryland activists celebrated their successful fight to increase the minimum wage, they realized something: This was way too much work — especially in a strongly liberal state where there is wide support for economic and social change. “In a state as progressive as Maryland, we frequently don’t see the progressiveness reflected in our elected officials,” said Gustavo Torres, president of CASA in Action.

ROLL CALL RATINGS: This year’s Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s Roll Call, an annual report card rating lawmakers on how “business friendly” they have voted, offers analysis of how the hike to minimum wage, signed into law Monday by Gov. Martin O’Malley, will affect the future of the business climate in Maryland, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. While Democratic lawmakers rarely rate highly in Roll Call, a number are listed as “most improved.”

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SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION STUDY: Gov. Martin O’Malley has ordered a study on school construction funding in Maryland, according to an AP story in the Daily Record. The governor announced he was directing the Interagency Committee on School Construction to work with the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Legislative Services to conduct the study.

HEALTH CARE SITE REBUILD: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post talk about Maryland’s construction of a new health care exchange website using software code from Connecticut, and why some say the process has been too secretive.

CARROLL PANEL PRAYS, BUT: On the day after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that paved the way for Carroll County Commissioners to reinstate their practice of sectarian prayer before meeting, the board decided it would wait until Thursday to address the issue, reports Blair Ames in the Sun. After a 45-minute closed session for legal advice, board members emerged from their meeting room.

NO CHANGES IN FREDERICK: The Frederick News-Post asked municipal and county boards in that county how the Supreme Court ruling would affect their meetings, and received some interesting responses.

BILL KILLER JOE: There’s no denying Del. Joe Vallario of Prince George’s County is a stingy gatekeeper when it comes to loosening Maryland’s civil and criminal laws, writes political opinionator Barry Rascovar in MarylandReporter.com. But, Rascovar writes, Vallario has performed a useful role for legislative leaders over the past 21 years. He disposes of bills that are too sweeping, too revolutionary, too inflammatory, too impractical, too poorly thought out, too poorly drafted or ahead of their time.

SEASON IN POLITICS: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland offers up a rambling, but interesting nonetheless, discussion of the current state of the political season in Maryland, including how tonight’s debate may shake out with national press figure David Gregory moderating the event.

HOUSE DISTRICT 32: In its continuing series, the editorial board of the Annapolis Capital turns over some op-ed space today to Spencer Dove, who is running for a District 32 House of Delegates seat. He writes, “I was raised with a strong sense of independence, laced with the military values that encourage integrity and service to our communities.”

TONIGHT’S DEBATE: When the three Democrats vying to be the next governor of Maryland meet on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park tonight for their first debate, each will take the stage with a different mission, reports John Wagner for the Post.

BROWN’S JOB PACKAGE: Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown has proposed a four-year, $112 million package of initiatives intended to boost jobs, saying he is determined to “ensure that Maryland is a great state to do business,” reports the Post’s John Wagner.

1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: The Chestertown Spy runs two 12 to 14 minute interviews with 1st District congressional candidates John LaFerla and Bill Tilghman as they face each other in the upcoming primary election in June. Both candidates sat down with the Spy for profile interviews to talk about themselves, their decision to enter politics, and how they see each other contrast with each other and the incumbent, Republican Congressman Andy Harris, whom one of them will face in the general election in November.

MSEA BLASTS GANSLER: The state’s teachers union blasted Democrat Doug Gansler over his new ads in the governor’s race that call for “skill over seniority” in the classroom, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. The Maryland State Education Association, which backs Gansler’s political foe Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, reacted with intense rhetoric, releasing a statement that called the advertisement a “reckless campaign communication” and compared Gansler to controversial Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has a long and heated history of fighting with teachers.

MIKULSKI ON KIDNAPPINGS: Sen. Barbara Mikulski is leading a group of women who called for tougher international sanctions against an organization that kidnapped more than 200 girls in Nigeria last month, John Fritze of the Sun is reporting. The Maryland Democrat along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, organized the bipartisan letter Tuesday to President Obama, signed by all 20 women senators.

SEN. CARDIN MEETS PUSSY RIOT: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin met with members of the protest group Pussy Riot on Tuesday to bring attention to human rights abuses in Russia as well as his efforts to expand economic sanctions against top officials in the country, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

O’MALLEY HEADS SOUTH: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is preparing for a possible 2016 White House bid, is set to touch down in another early presidential nominating state Friday. O’Malley is scheduled to be in South Carolina, where he is hosting a fundraiser in Charleston for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen, writes John Wagner in the Post.

MO CO COUNCIL RACE: Bill Turque of the Post reports that the District 5 County Council race could be Montgomery’s nastiest. That the five-way race for Valerie Ervin’s seat.

MO CO’S LIQUOR SYSTEM: Writing for Bethesda Magazine, Louis Peck takes a close look at Montgomery County’s 80-year-old liquor distribution system. Potomac’s David Trone, co-owner of Total Wine & More, one of the country’s largest private retailers of beer, wine and spirits, derides the county’s alcoholic beverage control system as “a throwback to Prohibition.” In a strictly historical sense, he’s correct.