March 11, 2015

State Roundup, March 11, 2015

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DEATH WITH DIGNITY: Fourteen years ago, O.J. Brigance delivered the first tackle in the Ravens’ first Super Bowl win. On Tuesday, testifying with a machine that replaced the voice taken from him by ALS, the former linebacker told Maryland lawmakers that his most significant feat came after he grieved over his degenerative condition and decided to live. He was testifying against the so-called death with dignity bill in the State House.

PAY DISCRIMINATION: Women’s rights representatives are seeking “fundamental fairness” by protecting workers who wish to discuss their wages and bringing in the issue of discrimination for gender identity in the workplace, reports Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com. HB 1051 was brought before legislators of the House Economic Matters committee on Tuesday, where some legislators were stunned to hear statistics about disparate pay.

PLASTIC BAG BAN: Environmentalists and others fed up with litter are making a pitch in Annapolis for a statewide ban on plastic bags. But the effort faces long odds, with powerful industries opposed and many lawmakers skittish of any proposal that could cost or inconvenience consumers, Timothy Wheeler writes in the Post.

CLIMATE CHANGE PANEL: The Maryland Senate approved a bill Tuesday preserving a commission on climate change on a party-line vote after a sharp debate, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. The 32-14 vote, with all of the chamber’s Republicans opposed, sent to the House a bill that perpetuates a commission that former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley created by executive order in 2007. In effect, the bill would say that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan may not abolish the panel, which is part of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

HOGAN’S ‘PARROTS:’ In an impromptu news conference in the State House press room, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he is excited that Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch are now “parroting” his message about the need for Maryland to improve its competitiveness with other states, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

HOGAN’S AGENDA: Things are not looking great for Gov. Larry Hogan’s first legislative agenda, Jenna Johnson reports for the Post. Committees in both chambers of the General Assembly voted down the Republican’s proposal to repeal the “rain tax.” Democratic leaders have openly mocked a bill that would halt automatic increases in the state gas tax. Legislation to make it easier for charter schools to open will probably be watered down, if it passes at all, leading lawmakers say.

PROPERTY SEIZURES: The House of Delegates ultimately passed a bill to change requirements for police property seizures, with fierce debate about whether the bill was helping “the small people” of Maryland, or handing drug dealers another tool in their belt, reports Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com.

LOTTERY CHIEF DEPARTS: The head of the state agency that oversees the lottery and casinos in Maryland is leaving to join a Baltimore law firm after nearly five years, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Stephen Martino announced his departure in an email sent to employees at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

PEEK A BOO: Gov. Larry Hogan updated his Facebook profile photo Monday, and it’s adorable. The photo adorning Hogan’s Facebook page features the governor behind his desk, with his 2-year-old granddaughter, Daniella, peering out from beneath (Photo below). The governor was hoping to recreate the famous photo of John F. Kennedy featuring the president and John Jr., who peeks out from under the Resolute Desk, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said Monday. Sean Walsh writes the story for the Sun.

Hogan granddaughterIVEY TO RUN FOR HOUSE: Former Prince George’s County state’s attorney Glenn Ivey will announce early Wednesday that he is running for the congressional seat that will be vacated in 2016 by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.

WILL SMIGIEL RUN? Former Del. Michael Smigiel, a leader of the libertarian wing of the Maryland Republican Party, said Tuesday that he’s considering a run for the GOP nomination for the 1st District seat in the U.S. House. Smigiel’s statement follows incumbent Republican Rep. Andy Harris’ statement last week that he was looking into running for the U.S. Senate seat Democrat Barbara Mikulski plans to leave after the 2016 election, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

DIVIDING DEMS: Erin Cox and John Fritze of the Sun write that the fast-moving race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski could divide Maryland’s normally cohesive congressional delegation, observers said Tuesday, as two House Democrats began to square off over political ideologies and allegiances.

EDWARDS ANNOUNCES: Rep. Donna Edwards, of Prince George’s County, announced her candidacy Tuesday morning in a video message that she is e-mailing to supporters. She has already won promises of help from national progressive and women’s groups, report Arelis Hernández and Bill Turque in the Post.

GREAT STATE OF MARYNIA: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards announced on Tuesday that she wants to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate — although, according to her campaign logo, she might also be eyeing a sliver of Virginia, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

VAN HOLLEN SCHMOOZES: Barely a week has passed since Rep. Chris Van Hollen announced that he will run for the U.S. Senate. On the same day that Rep. Donna Edwards also jumped into the race, Van Hollen stopped by the Maryland State House to schmooze with lawmakers and gather support ahead of what’s likely to be a bitter Democratic primary, Jenna Johnson and Ovetta Wiggins report in the Post.

VAN HOLLEN ENDORSEMENTS: Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Senate announced endorsements on Tuesday from several progressive Democrats as part of an effort to confront an emerging storyline that liberal groups are lining up behind Rep. Donna Edwards, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

Van Hollen Proctor

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, left, reached out to many former colleagues in the Maryland legislature Tuesday, including Del. Jim Proctor.

BONGINO’S NEXT MOVE: Republican Dan Bongino, who ran an unexpectedly close second to Rep. John Delaney (D) in western Maryland’s 6th Congressional District last fall, said Tuesday he’ll wait until late spring or summer before deciding his plans for 2016, Bill Turque writes in the Post.

MANUFACTURERS HONOR HARRIS: The National Association of Manufacturers awarded U.S. Rep. Andy Harris the Manufacturing Legislative Excellence award at an event hosted by W.L Gore & Associates, Inc., on Monday afternoon, according to the Cecil Whig.

O’MALLEY GETS STANDING OVATION: Former Sen. James Webb got an enthusiastic reception from the International Association of Fire Fighters, but it was another local Democrat who got the biggest standing ovation at the presidential forum. Former Maryland Gov.  Martin O’Malley chastised the morning’s half-dozen Republican speakers for failing to support union organizing, Rachel Weiner reports in the Post.

FOREST HEIGHTS KERFUFFLE: Voters in the tiny Prince George’s County town of Forest Heights are heading to the polls today to vote in a municipal election that has drawn interest and donations from prominent county elected officials, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post. Mayor Jacqueline Goodall, who angered the Democratic establishment by opposing efforts to bring gambling to the county, is facing a challenge from town council member Larry Stoner, a retired D.C. police officer who says he was endorsed and financed by state lawmakers and County Executive Rushern Baker.

PESTICIDE BAN: Things got a little testy Tuesday on WMAL-AM when Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal was asked about the bill he is sponsoring that would ban cosmetic pesticides from residential lawns and athletic fields, writes Bill Turque in the Post.