February 17, 2015

State Roundup, February 17, 2015

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Washington resignation speech

George Washington resigned his military commission to the Congress in the old Senate chamber at the State House on Dec. 23, 1783. A permanent display case for Washington’s handwritten resignation speech was unveiled in a ceremony in the State House rotunda Monday night. (Photo from Sen. Gail Bates Facebook page.)

END TO ELECTING CIRCUIT JUDGES? Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that Maryland legislators, concerned about the politicization of the judiciary, have proposed a constitutional amendment to end contested elections for circuit court judgeships. The popular election of judges is inconsistent with “an objective and independent judiciary,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, who chairs the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.

TAX CREDITS FOR MANUFACTURERS: Lawmakers are hoping to use tax incentives to lure manufacturers to relocate or expand in Maryland. Bryan Sears is reporting in the Daily Record that a bill sponsored by Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery County, would offer 10-year credits to some manufacturers as part of an effort to reverse a trend in declining employment in the sector since 2004.

PROTECTING INTERNS: Should the office intern be protected from discrimination the same way a regular staffer is? That will be the topic this morning, when a House subcommittee considers a bill to forbid discriminating against interns based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities that don’t affect the ability to do required work, writes Michael Dresser in his General Assembly Watch column in the Sun.

EDUCATION SPENDING: If you have been paying attention to budget stories the past few weeks, there might seem to be some contradictions flying around. Especially when it comes to education spending, writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.

REDISTRICTING REFORMS: The editorial board for the Sun opines that Maryland almost certainly will not enact reforms to the way it redraws legislative and congressional districts this year because the most powerful proponent of the idea, Gov. Larry Hogan, isn’t pushing it. He wants a commission to study the issue and provide advice on the best way to remove partisan politics from the process, and given the variety of reforms other states have tried in that vein, his approach makes sense. But he’d better not wait for long, otherwise the unique conditions that make this reform possible will soon evaporate.

MILLER’S AGENDA: Maryland Senate President Mike Miller announced last week a list of eight packages on the Senate leadership’s policy agenda, including legislation about drunken-driving penalties, sexual harassment and heroin/opioid abuse. Miller said, with bipartisan support, he believes the bills will pass, reports Sarah Fleischman for SoMdNews.com.

SERAFINI’S HOUSE SEAT: The chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee said Monday he does not know when his group will recommend to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan a name of a person to fill Andrew Serafini’s seat in the House of Delegates, adding that the committee is in the process of interviewing people for the job, reports Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

CRAIG CONFIRMED: The appointment of former Harford County Executive David Craig as secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning was confirmed Friday by the state Senate, according to the Aegis. Craig, 65, a lifelong Harford resident who served as county executive for close to 10 years, was appointed planning secretary last month by Gov. Larry Hogan.

DUELING VIEWS ON RETIREMENT SYSTEM: The Maryland State Retirement System suffers from chronic underfunding — facing an actuarial shortfall for existing participants of $19.6 billion as of July 1, 2014, writes Charlie Hayward in an article for MarylandReporter.com. Fixing the shortfall will require decades of contributions’ discipline even while major demographic impediments and a clear risk of economic downturns (during the next 25 years) loom.

MAYORS ADDRESS ISSUES: Mayors of four Southern Maryland incorporated towns met with state senators and delegates in Annapolis recently to give updates and share legislative concerns on issues including wastewater treatment, road projects and more, reports Sarah Fleischman for SoMdNews.com. The mayors of Chesapeake Beach, Leonardtown, Indian Head and La Plata emphasized the restoration of highway user revenues to the municipalities as a priority as well.

RECOGNIZING VIETNAM VETS: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that 42 years after American troops left Vietnam, the Maryland Senate unanimously voted Monday to designate a day to welcome them home. The bill would declare March 30, the anniversary of troop withdrawal from the southeast Asian conflict, as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

HOWARD TAPS HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF: The Rev. Dr. Barbara Sands, pastor of West Liberty United Methodist Church in Marriottsville, has been named the new head of Howard County’s Office of Human Rights. Amanda Yeager of the Howard County Times reports that Sands replaces Dr. C. Vernon Gray, who served as human rights administrator for nearly eight years under former County Executive Ken Ulman.

A PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland revisits a company he wrote about two years ago. The Towson-based political consulting firm CampaignON, which touts itself as a one-stop shop for political campaign management, now has its first presidential contender on its roster. And it’s not who you think it is — because you’ve never heard of him.