March 6, 2015

State Roundup, March 6, 2015

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REDISTRICTING CHANGES: The way future congressional districts are drawn in Maryland could change under a bill receiving consideration in the General Assembly, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. At issue is how Maryland handles the decennial process of redrawing its eight congressional districts. It’s a process that critics say has become increasingly political and abused to stifle political opposition.

2016 PRIMARY: The Maryland Senate voted unanimously Thursday to move the state’s 2016 presidential primary to later in April. The change is designed to avoid opening polls on Easter for early voting. The measure — which also would affect Baltimore City’s municipal primary — now goes to the House of Delegates, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

70 MPH LIMIT: The Sun’s Erin Cox is reporting that Maryland lawmakers voted Thursday to increase the maximum speed on interstate highways to 70 mph, but don’t hit the gas pedal just yet. Legislation likely headed to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk would give state highway officials authority to bump up the speed limit beyond the current top speed of 65 mph. It would not require them to do so, and the agency has only put the state’s current maximum speed limit on a handful of roadways.

CHILD PROTECTION BILL: A bill that gives authorities more power to keep children out of potentially dangerous homes is making its way through the Maryland General Assembly. On Thursday, the House approved the bill by a vote of 135 to 2. The Senate version of the bill passed earlier this year, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post.

BIRTH INJURY FUND: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that a bill to create a no-fault birth injury fund in Maryland pits two traditional opponents — hospitals and the trial lawyers who sue them for malpractice. Sponsored by Sen. Catherine Pugh and 22 delegates in House, including three doctors, SB585 and HB553 would set up a fund paid for by the hospitals that would finance the living and care expenses of any baby suffering a neurological injury from actions at the hospitals.

ABORTION CURBS: Carroll County lawmakers say that recent medical research has prompted them to attempt to amend Maryland’s late-term abortion law, reports Wiley Hayes in the Carroll County Times. Several Carroll delegates have submitted bills that seek to prevent abortions from being performed if the gestational age of the fetus, as determined by a physician, is 20 weeks or later.

HOGAN TO FILL VACANCY: Gov. Larry Hogan will have the sole responsibility of filling a vacant seat in the House of Delegates representing Carroll County, despite efforts by the county’s Republican Central Committee’s two factions to facilitate the completion of its recommendation process, reports Wiley Hayes for the Carroll County Times.

Hogan Rutherford snow day

Change Maryland posted this photo on Facebook of Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford in duck boots and Gov. Larry Hogan at work on a “snow day.” While most schools and many county government offices were closed, the legislature also conducted business as usual, with all committees holding hearings in the afternoon. What’s noticeable in this photo is that the new governor had his inner office painted a creamy yellow, replacing the deep blue walls of the O’Malley years.

ANGEL INVESTOR CREDIT: The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Donald Fry, in a column for Center Maryland, touts the Angel Investor Tax Credit legislation, saying it would provide a nonrefundable tax credit equal to 50% of an investment made by a qualified investor in a qualified innovation business. Unlike other tax credits in the state, this would not be specific to any one industry.

DRAFT EDWARDS MOVEMENT: Two national progressive groups will begin raising money and launch an effort to draft Rep. Donna Edwards to join the 2016 Senate race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara  Mikulski, Arelis Hernandez and Paul Kane write in the Post.

MIKULSKI’S LEGACY: Announcing her retirement at the end of her current term in 2016, Sen. Barbara  Mikulski will leave with her historic stature in place, opines Fraser Smith in a column for the Daily Record. She has done the legacy thing right. She gave at the office: a lifetime of punishing hours, impossible struggles against that other kind of power and the new ideas before the l-word was uttered.

VAN HOLLEN’S SEAT: The Montgomery County-based 8th District Congressional seat doesn’t come open very often; in fact, it last happened nearly 30 years ago, writes Louis Peck for Bethesda Magazine. Consequently, Wednesday’s announcement by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen that he is voluntarily giving up the slot to make a run for U.S. Senate may represent the chance of a lifetime for those with ambitions of serving on Capitol Hill.

PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER? John Cassidy of the New Yorker writes that with all the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, another bit of political news has been largely overlooked. At a press conference in Baltimore City on Tuesday, former Gov. Martin O’Malley said that he won’t seek the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Mikulski has announced she will vacate in 2016. Rather than entering a Senate race in which he would immediately be the favorite, O’Malley appears set to go all-in and challenge Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

CASINOS’ TAKE DOWN: Three months after generating a record $90.2 million, Maryland’s casinos saw combined revenues decrease in February for the third straight month, according to data released Thursday by state gambling regulators. Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that the combined revenue of $82.8 million last month was the lowest since September.

  • Buypass

    How about the lefties voting down the rain tax repeal?
    Someone Might be interested in that.