May 28, 2015

State Roundup, May 28, 2015

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OVERRIDING ‘INTELLECTUAL LAZY’ VETOES’: The chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is vowing to seek overrides of at least two vetoed bills announced last week by Gov. Larry Hogan, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Sen. Bobby Zirkin said the General Assembly should move to override vetoes on bills legalizing drug paraphernalia as well as another that would restore the right to vote to convicted felons who have not yet completed parole or probation. Zirkin called the reasons behind the vetoes, which Hogan explained in letters, “intellectual laziness, which is disappointing.”

  • State Sen. Jamie Raskin agrees with Zirkin’s assessment. Andrew Metcalf, in Bethesda Magazine, reports that Raskin said Hogan’s decision to veto a bill that would have decriminalized the possession of marijuana paraphernalia “just doesn’t make any sense.” In a letter to describe his reasoning, the Republican governor wrote the bill presented a threat to public safety because it would leave state and local police officers “with no authority to make a traffic stop if they see someone smoking marijuana while driving.”
  • Dels. Cory McCray and Alonzo Washington in an op-ed for the Sun writes that at 2 p.m. on the Friday before a holiday weekend, when many people were already away on vacation, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed House Bill 980, which restored voting rights to ex-felons upon their release from prison, rather than waiting until they’re off parole or probation. The timing seems calculated and political and designed to deflect attention from the veto. This ultimately perpetuates feelings of distrust for elected officials and apathy for voting and reinforces the idea that state leaders are protecting the interests of some over all.

PUSHING FOR LIGHT RAIL: Maryland’s nine Democratic members of Congress are calling on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to protect promised federal funding by quickly acting on plans to build two expensive light rail projects, the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears is reporting. The delegation expressed concern about delays in the projects and what it could mean for up to $900 million in expected federal funding for each light rail line.

  • Katie Shaver of the Washington Post, who has followed the Purple Line saga for years, will be on Charles Duffy’s Political Pulse program discussing the project on Montgomery County municipal cable tonight, Thursday, at 9 p.m., and Friday and Sunday at 6 p.m.

HOGAN’S ASIA TRIP: Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post that the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and South Korea’s Small and Medium Business Administration on Wednesday entered into a two-year agreement to promote trade and strengthen economic ties, particularly in the life sciences industry. The signing of the agreement took place as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) kicked off his 12-day trade mission to Asia.

Hogan in south Korea

Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan in South Korea after the signing of the trade agreement. The Maryland delegation is on the left. (Photo from the governor’s office)

DNA TESTING PROBLEMS: Data from a 2013 DNA evidence collection and analysis was due in to the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for review by April 2014, but 33 of the state’s 133 local law enforcement agencies did not submit their data to the state before the deadline, despite a legal mandate to do so, reports Deidre McPhillips of the Capital News Service in the Daily Record.

OBAMA PUSHES MORE BAY PROTECTION: The Obama administration introduced an addition to the Clean Water Act on Wednesday, despite pushback from farmers across the country and the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted to scrap the rule earlier this month, writes Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com.

LOSING TEACHING TIME FOR TESTING: Robert Dietzen and 52 other educators from Baltimore City charter schools, in an op-ed for the Sun, write of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing taking place in schools. While a modest reduction in PARCC testing hours, they write, is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. PARCC has doubled the amount of testing time in schools across the state. It has forced a massive reallocation of resources that took teachers out of classrooms and cost students valuable instructional time.

MML TREASURER PLEADS GUILTY: An 82-year-old former Chestertown councilwoman pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing funds she managed as treasurer of the Eastern Shore chapter of the Maryland Municipal League. Mabel Mumford-Pautz entered her plea to felony theft in Cecil County and immediately repaid the $44,900 she admitted stealing between September 2008 and February 2014, according to the Maryland state prosecutor’s office. A Cecil County Circuit judge sentenced Mumford-Pautz to five years in jail but suspended the sentence and imposed three years of probation, Doug Donovan reports in the Sun.

FREE SPEECH COMPLAINT: A former emergency management coordinator for Wicomico County claims he was fired two months ago as retaliation for creating a private Facebook account — at the suggestion of a county council member — to facilitate discussion of a controversial proposed county employee handbook, reports Lauren Kirkwood for the Daily Record.

THE MURDER-ARREST BALANCE: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts are “examining” whether a sharp decrease in arrests is contributing to May becoming the deadliest month in Baltimore since the 1990s.  Through the first half of May, police made 828 arrests — fewer than half the 1,909 made during the same time last year. This month, 36 people have been killed in Baltimore, the highest total for a month since 1999, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

BAKER TAX HIKE A NO-GO: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker on Wednesday backed away from a proposal to increase property taxes to generate new money for the county’s troubled public schools, — tacitly acknowledging that he did not have the support he needed from the County Council, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.

SCHUH PULLS TWO GRANTS: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has decided to pull two proposed grants out of the budget that would have channeled money to organizations with which he is personally affiliated. Less than three weeks ago, a story in the Annapolis Capital prompted County Council members and the county auditor to take a closer look at some of Schuh’s decisions in his proposed $1.36 million community grant program, part of the fiscal 2016 budget currently under consideration, Elisha Sauers reports for the Capital.

O’MALLEY, POLICE & THE COMMUNITY: Until last month, part of the narrative surrounding Martin O’Malley was that he was the generally successful mayor of a big city; a mayor whose so-called ‘zero-tolerance’ or ‘broken windows’ approach to policing led to an overall drop in murders. Then the riots happened. Sarah Richards of WYPR-FM interviews a number of experts on how O’Malley’s actions affected police-community relations.

O’MALLEY’S SUPER PAC: Associates of former Gov. Martin O’Malley are launching a super PAC intended to bolster the Democrat’s prospects as he formally announces his long-shot presidential bid in Baltimore on Saturday, reports John Wagner for the Post.

CLINTON IN BETHESDA: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Bethesda next month for a campaign fundraiser at the home of a former Federal Communications official, reports Aaron Kraut for Bethesda Magazine. The “Conversation with Hillary,” set for June 8 at the home of Susan Ness, is asking for individual donations of $2,700—the maximum allowed for the 2016 Democratic primary.

  • ksteve

    In addition to the voting rights for ex-felons legislation (SB340/HB980) and the marijuana paraphernalia bill (SB517), there is a third Hogan-vetoed bill that came through Senator Zirkin’s Judicial Proceedings Committee that I’d expect to be added to the override list. That’s Senator Raskin’s SB528, which would provide added protection against seizure by or forfeiture to police of money or property in matters related to violations of the state’s controlled dangerous substance laws. On that one, based on floor votes, the prospects of a successful override would seem about as good as on the marijuana paraphernalia bill and better than on the ex-felons voting rights legislation.