POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY BILLS: Children came draped in crime scene tape. Police chiefs arrived in full dress uniforms. Hundreds of people arrived in Annapolis Tuesday to weigh in on a topic that has dominated local and national headlines for more than a year: How can a government repair the broken trust between police officers and the African-American communities they police? But criticism of legislation to repair that trust is coming from all sides: police chiefs, sheriffs, union representatives, activists and victims of police brutality, Erin Cox reports for the Sun.
- Lobbyists and lawyers for the police union called the bills unnecessary and in some cases misguided, and said some of the changes would be unfair to police officers who have done nothing wrong. Supporters of the bills said they would help prevent abuses of the type that allegedly led to the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department, while expanding citizen opportunities to lodge misconduct complaints against police, Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins report for the Post.
- Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that when Del. Brett Wilson saw the estimates of what the legislation for increasing police accountability would cost, he started thinking of pulling his name from the list of co-sponsors. The omnibus bill would cost the state at least $6.2 million to implement in its first year and similar yearly costs in the future, according to legislative analysts.
SUPERINTENDENT BILL KILLED: A controversial bill that would have given Maryland lawmakers a role in selecting the state superintendent was essentially killed Tuesday after its sponsors concluded they did not have enough support in the Democratic-controlled legislature to withstand a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Sun.
LOWER THE GRAD BAR? Since most Maryland students didn’t pass a tough new test that eventually will be required for graduation, should the state lower the bar? The state school board began considering that question Tuesday as members discussed options, including setting a lower passing grade or offering a second-tier diploma for students who finish required high school courses but can’t pass the PARCC test now used in a dozen states, reports Liz Bowie in the Sun.
- On the other hand, Maryland has led the nation in the percentage of high school seniors passing the rigorous Advanced Placement exams for the 10th consecutive year, according to the Maryland Department of Education. Liz Bowie writes the story for the Sun.
BIZ TAX INCENTIVES: Legislation with wide support in the General Assembly would allow the state to offer generous incentives to lure new manufacturing companies, but some established Maryland manufacturers are crying foul over a provision they say would hurt their business, reports Carrie Wells in the Sun. Two similar bills, one introduced by Gov. Larry Hogan, would establish zones around the state where manufacturing companies from out of state could relocate and reap incentives including property and income tax breaks. The sticking point, some manufacturers said, is a provision in both bills that also would give income tax breaks to the employees of the relocating companies.
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION: A bill to accelerate Maryland’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sailed through the state Senate on Tuesday and was hailed by environmentalists as one of the nation’s strongest state requirements for tackling carbon pollution, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Post.
GREEN ENERGY INCENTIVES: Even though the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on clean energy programs to meet greenhouse gas reduction standards, a study from the Maryland Clean Energy Center found that private investments are largely out of the picture and should play a bigger role. A bill in the legislature seeks to change that, reports Anamika Roy in the Daily Record.
CHICKEN POOP ACCOUNTABILITY: Environmental activists clashed with Maryland’s agriculture secretary and the poultry industry over legislation designed to shift the burden of cleaning up excess chicken manure runoff from taxpayers and farmers to larger poultry companies, writes Bryan Renbaum for Marylandreporter.com.
SUNSHINE IN LITIGATION ACT: In a column for the Daily Record, Matthew Thomas Vocci writes that a good first step to greater transparency and disclosure in the litigation realm is the Sunshine in Litigation Act making its way through the Maryland legislature. House Bill 1460 and Senate Bill 709 declare that provisions of agreements that conceal a public hazard, information concerning a public hazard or information that may be useful to members of the public in protecting themselves from injury that may result from a public hazard are contrary to public policy and unenforceable.
SENATE DELAYS 7 HOGAN APPOINTEES: Seven appointees of Gov. Larry Hogan will not be part of a confirmation vote later this week, and some senators say at least some could face lengthy delays. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee voted Monday night to delay the confirmations of seven of the nearly six dozen appointees of Gov. Larry Hogan who are expected to be voted on as early as Friday, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
TICKETING BY CAMERA: Frederick County Sen. Michael Hough wants to repeal the state law that allows automated speed and red-light cameras, which issue tens of thousands of citations each year, reports Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News Post. “I’ve always hated these things. I thought it was a bad idea from the beginning,” Hough said at a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday.
REMOVING THE TANEY STATUE: Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital writes that this General Assembly session brings renewed efforts to rid the State House of Roger Brooke Taney’s presence. Del. Jill Carter, a Baltimore City Democrat, has submitted legislation that would require his statue to be removed and destroyed by the end of the year. Sens. Anthony Muse and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam are sponsoring a similar bill, which would see the statue stored in the state’s archives after its removal.
- Monuments from the Civil War with ties to slavery and the Confederacy have been an increasingly controversial matter throughout Maryland in the past year, reports Connor Glowacki of Capital News Service. Over 20 Democratic delegates are co-sponsoring a House bill that, if passed, would remove and destroy the statue.
HOGAN’S MANEUVERING: Columnist Laslo Boyd dissects Gov. Larry Hogan’s popularity, concluding that the new governor knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to political maneuvering, attacking the opponent, separating Baltimore City from the rest of the state, using social media and appearing reconciliatory.
ZIRKIN ON ‘SPRING BREAK:’ State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, in an op-ed for the Sun, addresses Gov. Hogan’s “spring break” comments about the work of the General Assembly, saying, yes he believes Hogan was joking. However, “They were clearly insulting and showed a lack of knowledge or even intellectual curiosity about what goes on with the legislative branch of government.”
EDWARDS-VAN HOLLEN IN DEAD HEAT: The new Goucher Poll finds that Maryland Democratic voters give Hillary Clinton a commanding 30-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state’s presidential primary. Clinton beats Sanders 58% to 28%, with 12% undecided, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. In the Democratic race to succeed Barbara Mikulski in the U.S. Senate, Reps. Donna Edwards of Prince George’s County and Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County are in a statistical dead heat, with Edwards polling 39% to Van Hollen’s 37% and 23% of Democratic voters undecided.
- The poll is the second in as many months to find support for Reps. Donna Edwards of Prince George’s County and Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County to be within the margin of error — underscoring that the Maryland primary is among the most competitive in the nation, reports John Fritze in the Sun.
- Van Hollen has stockpiled 10 times as much money as Edwards and is strongly positioned to continue the barrage of television advertising he has launched in Baltimore in recent months. But Edwards has the support of the fundraising juggernaut Emily’s List and scored two percentage points higher than Van Hollen in the poll — well within the margin of error, Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports.
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FORUM: Six Democrats and two Republicans running for the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Donna F. Edwards discussed education, the economy and health care at the forum, which was organized by the Prince George’s County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was the first opportunity voters have had to hear the candidates side-by-side in months, John Fritze reports for the Sun.
HORSING AROUND: There was a lot of horsing around in Annapolis Tuesday, as a more than hundred representatives of Maryland’s diverse horse industry gathered to lobby legislators for an array of horsey priorities, according to MarylandReporter.com. Thoroughbred racing and the gambling that goes with it has often been the focus of the General Assembly, but leaders of the $1.6 billion industry have formed a coalition to emphasize the broader interests of the horsey set. Maryland has about 80,000 horses on 587,000 acres — 10% of the state’s land, more horse per square mile than any state, the industry says.