March 10, 2015

State Roundup, March 10, 2015

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ABORTION, RIGHT TO DIE: Hundreds of abortion opponents gathered in Annapolis to try to make their voices heard — not just on issues relating to the beginning of life, but also the end of it, Christian Schaffer reports for WMAR-TV.

  • Former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance, whose public seven-year fight against ALS has made the former star and current Ravens front-office staffer both a national advocate for people with the neurodegenerative disease and an inspiration to the team, plans to urge state lawmakers to vote against right-to-die legislation in Annapolis, lending a prominent voice to one of the most controversial issues facing the General Assembly this year.
Rydell and ARC of Baltimore

Fox 45 TV reporter John Rydell, far left, joined in a photo with representatives from the ARC of Baltimore, some of the many advocates for restoring funding for caregivers paid by the Developmental Disabilities Administration who came to Annapolis Monday. (Facebook photo by Susan O’Brien.)

BIZ CLIMATE BILLS: The General Assembly’s top leaders came together with Hogan administration officials Monday to call for passage of a package of bills intended to improve Maryland’s business climate, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: In a shift from the “tough on crime” rhetoric of years past, some Maryland lawmakers are questioning whether the state has gone overboard in punishing ex-offenders long after they have paid their dues and returned to the street, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. “Restorative justice is the movement we’re hearing about,” said Del. Brett Wilson, a prosecutor and Western Maryland Republican who supports some efforts to help ex-offenders get jobs.

JUVENILE JAILS: The editorial board for the Frederick New Post opines that, in Maryland as in many other states, juveniles charged as adults are sometimes held in jails with adult populations. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons, both practical and moral, and this practice needs to change. To that end, state Sen. Lisa Gladden has introduced a bill that would require most juveniles charged as adults to be held in juvenile detention centers. Maryland routinely places juveniles among adult jail populations.

MANAGING TEENS IN SCHOOL: The editorial board for the Sun, in writing about the Baltimore City delegation to not allow school police to carry guns, says that most of the time, the sorts of school disciplinary problems that are inevitable whenever large numbers of groups of teens are brought together are better handled by school administrators and trained staff, rather than police. There is simply no need to criminalize the vast majority of conduct in schools. But there are times when the presence of a police officer is necessary.

WHICH PENSION METHOD? The editorial board for the Sun opines that the debate in Annapolis about whether the state should immediately shift from the “corridor” method for determining its annual contributions to its main pension systems for government employees and teachers back to the “actuarial” method doubtless sounds pretty esoteric and confusing. It is. But the political principle at work is pretty simple: When the corridor method allowed lawmakers to justify saving less to cover long-term liabilities and spending more in the short term, that’s what they used. Now that the actuarial method is cheaper in the short term and worse in the long run, they’re eyeing it instead.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: In an op-ed in the Daily Record, Steven Albert and Matthew Bralove write that as business owners prepare their files and paperwork for tax season, one particular tax law change may lead to substantial missed opportunities for taxpayers in Maryland.These changes also give taxpayers a chance to review old asset classification and potentially receive more deductions this year.

JALISI REASSIGNED: A state delegate has been removed from his committee assignment hours after being ordered to stay away from his daughter for a year by a District Court judge, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi agreed to a civil consent order that will keep him out of the home where his family lives and away from the campus of Johns Hopkins University, where his daughter is a pre-med student.

CONFIRMATION DELAYS: A Maryland Senate panel on Monday night voted to delay the confirmations of five nominees to Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet, after committee members received letters raising questions about two of the nominees, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Post.

MTA COST CONTROL: Since 2005, the Maryland Transit Administration has fallen short of the goal to bring in 35 cents in fares for every dollar spent. While state law mandates the goal and tasks the MTA to control costs while keeping fares low, the Office of Legislative Audits just reported a litany of cost-containment controls the transit agency failed to exercise, writes Charlie Hayward for MarylandReporter.com.

FROSH JOINS MARRIAGE FIGHT: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined 15 other states and Washington, D.C., in urging the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that Frosh signed on to a brief Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey submitted to the high court last week in support of same-sex couples challenging laws banning their ability to marry in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.

CHEER UP DEMS: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that there’s nothing like a rare Senate vacancy to cheer dispirited Maryland Democrats, who are still in a funk after now-Gov. Larry Hogan’s upset victory last November over then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Suddenly, several Democrats are imagining themselves as the state’s next U.S. senator, and dozens more are plotting to run for congressional seats as House members queue up to replace Mikulski.

VAN HOLLEN ENDORSED: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who will face off against at least one fellow House Democrat in his battle to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, was endorsed on Monday by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and the nine-member County Council, writes Bill Turque in the Post.

EDWARDS VS. VAN HOLLEN: Democrats are bracing for a fractious primary fight for a rare open Senate seat in Maryland, with two members of Congress from neighboring jurisdictions — Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen — ready to spar over their liberal credentials and records of helping working families, reports Bill Turque and Arelis Hernandez for the Post.

BARVE TO SEEK VAN HOLLEN’S SEAT: Kumar Barve, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates, announced on Monday that he plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jenna Johnson writes in the Post.

NANNY COUNTY: Bill Turque of the Post writes that the pesticide ban being considered by the Montgomery County Council is the latest example of county lawmakers trying to make sure their populous suburban jurisdiction is as healthy and safe as possible. He lists five initiatives that the all-Democratic council has approved or is considering that impose strict limits on what some consider to be risky behaviors. The efforts have led critics to accuse the council of trying to impose a “nanny state.”