State Roundup, February 17, 2017

Print More

ELECTIONS FOR APPOINTED LEGISLATORS: A proposed constitutional amendment with bipartisan support would require senators and delegates appointed by the governor in the first year of their term to defend their seats in the year of a Presidential election. Currently, appointees can ride out the entire unexpired term of the former office holder until the next gubernatorial election. The proposal gives voters “more direct say on who should be their representatives,” said Del. Jimmy Tarlau, lead sponsor of the amendment, HB361 . The measure doesn’t change the role of central committees to deliver a name to the governor within 30 days to fill the vacated seat. MarylandReporter.com

RENTAL VOUCHERS: WYPR-FM’s Joel McCord and John Lee discuss a measure making its way through the General Assembly that would keep landlords from automatically turning down renters with housing vouchers.

BEE COLONY PROTECTION: Del. Mike McKay insists he doesn’t have it in for Winnie the Pooh. The Cumberland Republican even sported a picture of Pooh on his vest as he testified in favor of a bill that would permit people to kill or wound black bears if one of the animals threatened a bee colony, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

MILLER CAUTIONS SENATORS ON SAFETY: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that state senators on Thursday were urged to travel in pairs while walking in Annapolis at night. Senate President Mike Miller urged the other 46 senators and pages who work in the chamber to buddy up when walking at night after concerns about the safety of the area around the State House and government office campus. “This is not a college campus, this is a city. We have a responsibility for our pages, we have a responsibility for our interns and everybody needs to look out for everybody else, OK?”

WAITING FOR AN OPINION: State Sen. Paul Pinsky, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes of Hogan administration’s seeming unwillingness to take a stand on legislation, saying that, “Legislators like myself regularly look to state agencies for policy guidance when we try to evaluate the testimony we receive from supporters and opponents of the various bills that come before us. We respect the practical experience state officials have gained. We want to know whatever position the state — representing the public’s interest — has chosen to take.  Why does the Hogan administration abdicate this responsibility to take positions?”

BATTLE OVER END-OF-LIFE DECISIONS: Legislation to permit terminally ill adults access to lethal doses of medication drew praise Tuesday from a leading civil rights group, which spoke of the fundamental right of people facing imminent death to end their suffering, but scorn from advocates for the disabled, who said every life has quality even as bodily functions are failing, Steve Lash writes in the Daily Record.

METRO FUND BILLS: Metro would receive an extra $750 million in federal funds over 10 years in exchange for changes in the transit system’s governance structure and labor contracts under a bill proposed Thursday by Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. Robert McCartney of the Post reports that the legislation is the first of two bills that representatives from the region plan to submit in a bid to force the District, Maryland and Virginia to rewrite Metro’s compact, the document that outlines how the agency is governed and funded.

MARYLAND’s MILLIONAIRES: Maryland was home to a higher percentage of millionaire households than any other state in the country last year, according to a new report released Thursday. Natalie Sherman of the Sun writes that this was the fifth year in a row that Maryland claimed the top spot on the annual Wealth & Affluent Monitor published by New York-based Phoenix Marketing International. Maryland was followed by Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii. [Editor’s Note: The designation “millionaire” is based on assets such as retirement accounts, not annual income.]

CUMMINGS PUZZLED BY TRUMP CLAIM: President Donald Trump blamed Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday for failing to schedule a meeting about the cost of prescription drugs, suggesting the Baltimore Democrat didn’t want to come to the White House because it was “bad politics.” Cumming, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, disputed that characterization, saying the president had made it up, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

  • Jenna Portnoy of the Post reports that Trump made the comment during a wide-ranging news conference Thursday and speculated that Cummings may have been dissuaded from coming to the White House for political reasons, perhaps by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), whom Trump dismissed as a “lightweight.” Cummings said in a statement, “I also sincerely have no idea why the president made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus.”

THE YOUNGEST MAYOR: Rachel Manteuffel of the Post Magazine profiles the mayor of Indian Head, Md., a small, struggling town in Charles County. The mayor, Brandon Paulin, is the youngest mayor in the history of Maryland. He’s only 21.