March 15, 2016

Change in judicial elections rejected; healthy vending bill withdrawn

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Four proposals to reform the process of selecting Circuit Court judges were killed Monday when the Judiciary Committee issued unfavorable reports.

This is the latest failed attempt over two decades to prevent recently appointed judges from being knocked off the bench by challengers. Instead, they would run in “retention” elections as do the appellate court judges in which voters select “yes” or “no” on whether to retain them in office.

In this year’s elections, two lawyers in Baltimore, including a City Council member, are challenging a slate of sitting judges. In Anne Arundel County, three lawyers are challenging a slate of four sitting judges.

Under current law vacancies in Circuit Court judges are filled by an appointment from the governor, but that appointee then faces a competitive election at a general election. Judges serve 15-year terms from the date of the election.

The four proposed amendments to Maryland’s constitution would have altered the selection process to use retention elections instead of competitive elections, except in one proposal that would have offered a competitive election if the appointee wasn’t confirmed with at least 80% of the Senate vote. The proposals also included calls for the term limits to be set at 10 years instead of 15, and then be subject to appointment from another governor.

–MarylandReporter.com

Vending machines will not have change choices

Vending machines on the ground floor of the State House.  Photo by MarylandReporter.com

Vending machines on the ground floor of the State House. Photo by MarylandReporter.com

Legislation that would have mandated state buildings, parks and colleges toss treats that exceed 200 calories per package from their vending machines will have to wait until next year for reconsideration, the measure’s sponsor said Tuesday.

The Senate Finance Committee voted to kill the measure — the Maryland Healthy Vending Machine, SB602 — on Monday.  On Tuesday, the sponsor of companion legislation in the House, HB1498, Delegate Antonio Hayes, D-Baltimore, withdrew the measure in advance of a committee vote.

Hayes told Capital News Service that after the bill failed in the Senate, it seemed unlikely the measure would make it through the General Assembly this year. Though he pulled the legislation from consideration Tuesday, he said he would look at making changes before “bringing it back next year.”

“We just want to step back for a minute and reevaluate,” he said.

The action followed rhetorical clashes last week between health lobbyists and snack distributors.

–Eliana Block, Capital News Service