State Roundup, March 4, 2016

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DEATH WITH DIGNITY BILL PULLED: A chief sponsor of legislation that would allow terminally ill Marylanders to end their lives has withdrawn the bill amid stiff opposition, signaling that the effort has again failed in the General Assembly. Sen. Ron Young, a Frederick County Democrat, withdrew the bill Thursday after realizing it didn’t have enough support to clear the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun.

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has endorsed Republican Sam Faddis in his run for the 5th Congressional District. Steele, a commentator on MSNBC and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, now has a daily radio talk show on Sirius XM.

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, right, has endorsed Republican Sam Faddis in his run for the 5th Congressional District. Steele, a commentator on MSNBC and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, now has a daily radio talk show on Sirius XM.

EASY VOTER REGISTRATION: Voter fraud and implementation costs were among the concerns that Republicans raised Thursday about a bill that would make Maryland the third state to automatically register eligible residents to vote, writes Josh Hicks in the Post. Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the legislation, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee that his proposal would make the registration process more secure and convenient, while encouraging more residents to vote.

KIDS PUSH ED BILL: Alessia Grunberger of MarylandReporter.com writes that not many K-12 students could say they have rallied at the State House for a cause that has the potential to affect thousands of families in their state. But on Wednesday, 700 private school students from across the state saw the legislative process in action when they marched to the State House and urged lawmakers to pass the Maryland Education Credit bills.

REDISTRICTING DANCE: Days into the 2016 legislative session, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan named redistricting reform as one of his top priorities, saying that Maryland is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Thursday, his bill to accomplish that goal was scrutinized by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Rachel Bluth of CNS reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

DRUNK DRIVING PENALTIES: Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill to require more convicted drunk drivers to use ignition locks — legislation the panel has blocked in the past but which has received new attention since the drunk-driving death of a police officer in December, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting.

ADULTS ENABLING TEEN DRINKING: The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to allow judges to imprison adults who host underage-drinking parties, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record. With the Senate’s 46-0 vote, attention shifts to the House of Delegates, where similar legislation is pending.

DEBT COLLECTORS: In an effort to protect consumers, Attorney General Brian Frosh urged legislators Thursday to pass legislation requiring third-party debt buyers to have documentation that they are entitled to collect money owed, including papers stating the amount and source of the debt as well as proof that the debtor is in fact in arrears, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

PAID SICK LEAVE: A revised bill mandating paid sick leave for employees in Maryland is not impressing some businesses and legislators who say such a law would hurt them more than it would help sick employees. Advocates who favor the proposed law, which would require employers in Maryland to provide seven days of sick leave for workers, cited a growing coalition of support and called on legislators to pass the law this year, Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

SMOOTHING UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: The House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that would eliminate the need for people seeking an uncontested divorce in Maryland to bring a witness to court to swear the couple hadn’t spent a night together in the previous year. By a 94-45 vote, with most Democrats in favor and most Republicans opposed, the House sent the measure to the Senate, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

FREEDOM OF STUDENT PRESS: A bill introduced by Sen. Jamie Raskin and Sen. James Rosapepe would give student journalists freedom of speech and freedom of the press by allowing students more freedom in choosing what to publish in school-sponsored publications and protect them against censorship from administrators, CNS’s Jessica Campisi reports.

KEY BRIDGE TOLLS: A proposal that would allow drivers traveling across the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge to pay $20 per year as opposed to several hundred, was promoted on Thursday by Del. Ric Metzgar, R-Baltimore County, at the House Environment and Transportation Committee, Bryan Renbaum writes in MarylandReporter.com.

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Legislators, environmental activists and renewable-energy workers congregated outside the Maryland State House Thursday, trumpeting statewide polling results that found a majority of respondents — across ideological and geographical lines — in favor of a bill that sets new goals for renewable energy consumption and puts $40 million aside for more clean-energy jobs training. Josh Magness reports for Capital News Service.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES FORUMS: With less than two months to go until April 26’s primary election, 12 Democrats vying to become Baltimore’s next mayor debated Thursday in Riverside at the National Federation of the Blind. The candidates — including former Mayor Sheila Dixon and her top challenger state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh — were not asked about crime, which is traditionally the biggest issue on Baltimore voters’ minds. But they debated how best to run the schools, grow jobs and cut taxes, among other matters, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

HAUNTING SHEILA DIXON: WYPR-FM’s Fraser Smith and John Lee talk about former Mayor Sheila Dixon’s corruption plea and how her opponents in the race for mayor are using it against her.

GOP PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: The debate Thursday night wasn’t filled with comity, but it was less divisive than many would have predicted, perhaps because we have become used to consistent personal shots in these debates, Rick Vatz writes in a commentary for MarylandReporter.com. As for the outcome of the debate, it cannot be certain what effect Thursday’s events — the Romney speech, the McCain echo and the debate — will have on the primary season. Still, it appears that Trump’s supporters are immovable.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Del. Joe Vallario on Friday, and on Saturday, Sen. Paul Pinsky, Dels. Ben Kramer and Mike McKay

CORRECTION: In an item yesterday on funding for a scenic railroad, we incorrectly identified where reporter Heather Wolford works. We should have said she works for the Cumberland Times News instead of that other paper.