State Roundup, February 14, 2018

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DISBAND CITY POLICE DEPT: After this week’s conclusion of a federal corruption trial that convicted two Baltimore police officers, a Maryland lawmaker floated a radical proposal: disband the Baltimore Police Department. Del. Bilal Ali, a Baltimore Democrat, proposed the idea in a memo he sent to Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and her newly appointed police commissioner after a federal jury convicted two Baltimore detectives for their roles in one of the city’s biggest police corruption scandals. Six other officers pleaded guilty in the case. Michael Dresser reports the story for the Sun.

LEGISLATIVE SOCIAL CALENDAR: Each week, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services publishes the social calendar for lawmakers gathered in Annapolis for the 2018 General Assembly session. But the so-called “protocol calendar” is distributed only to those on a select email group despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s attempt last year to have the schedule posted online. Since you can’t get it, the Sun’s Doug Donovan provides it for you. Click on the document to the left of the article to view it.

JUDGES DEFEND LARGE PAY HIKE: Maryland’s top judges told the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday that increasing the pay of all 313 Maryland judges in the state was necessary to retain the quality and diversity of Maryland’s judiciary, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter. The Judicial Compensation Commission recommended that all the judges get a $35,000 pay hike phased in over the next four years. This would bring the salaries of 173 circuit court judges up to $189,433 and the pay for 117 district court judges, the lowest paid of the jurists, up to $176,333.

SICK LEAVE LAW DELAY: The House Economic Matters Committee proved to be a tough crowd for one Maryland senator Tuesday, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Sen. Mac Middleton, D-Charles and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, found himself sitting before a committee many believe are eager to kill his bill to delay the state’s new paid sick leave law, which took effect on Sunday. Behind him, angry supporters of the new law were fighting to make sure no delay occurs.

ENDING PARENTAL RIGHTS: Women who become pregnant in Maryland as a result of sexual assault can now sue to terminate the parental rights of their attackers, under a law approved this month in the legislature after nine failed attempts, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. “This is an important day for the state of Maryland,” said Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who signed the emergency bill Tuesday surrounded by a host of advocates and women lawmakers. “I know it’s a long time coming.”

  • The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes that for years the measure passed the Senate only to die in the House Judiciary Committee. Last year it passed both chambers only to fail in the final hours of the session when a House-Senate conference committee — made up of all men — failed to reach an agreement on the details. That outcome — along with the poor optics of having an all-male group deciding the fate of a bill involving women’s rights — embarrassed lawmakers and prompted chamber leaders to make its passage a priority this year. Hogan also announced his support, promising to sign the bill as soon as its reached his desk

HYGIENE PRODUCTS FOR WOMEN PRISONERS: Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that female inmates at the state prison in Jessup — the state’s only women’s prison — say getting feminine hygiene products, like pads and tampons, while they’re incarcerated can be challenging, sometimes even impossible. A bill before the General Assembly requires the manager of a state or local correctional facility to make sure the facility has a sufficient supply of feminine hygiene products, to give the products to inmates at no cost when they need them, and to keep written policies and records on the subject.

WAGE GAP: A Frederick County delegate will try again to pass legislation she hopes would address the wage gap and level the earnings playing field, Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post reports. Del. Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A, presented House Bill 512 on Tuesday before the House Economic Matters Committee.

BUDGETS REFLECT VALUES: Dels. Maggie McIntosh and Shelly Hettleman, in an op-ed for the Sun, write that, as we knock on doors in Baltimore City and county asking what issues are on the minds of voters, there is a common question: What are we doing to protect Maryland from the Trump administration? That’s why we were surprised by the recent Sun editorial, Hogan v. Frosh, that makes the budget struggle between Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh seem like a playground spat without real consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. Budgets reflect values. When a president proposes dramatic increases the Defense Department’s budget, congressional power can serve as a counterbalance, as Congress has the power of the purse. Not so, here in Maryland.

CLEAN ENERGY & JOBS: In a guest commentary for Maryland Matters, Sen. Brian Feldman and Del. William Frick write that Marylanders are concerned about the impact climate change is having on our communities, our health, our economy, our property values, our agricultural yields and even the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. At the same time, Marylanders want the economic benefits of the clean energy economy. That is why we are proud to sponsor the Clean Energy Jobs Act with more than half of the General Assembly signed on in support.

REDISTRICTING ALWAYS UNFAIR: Warning to good-government types, Gov. Larry Hogan and others demanding non-partisan re-drawing of political districts for Congress: No matter how you slice it, redistricting will remain inherently unfair. That’s the dilemma the Supreme Court faces as it considers whether to step in as it once did and lay down rules for redistricting, opines Barry Rascovar in a column for his Political Maryland blog.

YEAR OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Marking Frederick Douglass’s 200th birthday, Gov. Hogan proclaims The Year of Frederick Douglass surrounded by descendants of the great abolitionist. He also announced a new 131-mile driving tour “Frederick Douglass: Following in His Footsteps” that highlights areas of his life from his birthplace near Tuckahoe Creek in Talbot County, to Fells Point where he worked and learned to read, and his home in Washington, where he was an adviser to Abraham Lincoln, Len Lazarick reports in MarylandReporter.

POWER COUPLES: To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters compiles a list of Maryland’s power couples.

***COLD WEATHER DOESN’T STOP MARYLAND’S FARMERS: Across Maryland, farmers have wrapped up their harvest and gone into winter mode. But that doesn’t mean that their work is done until spring. Some farmers are doing paperwork and analyzing data to make decisions about next year’s crop. Others serve on boards or expand their education. Here’s what five farmers do during the winter to improve their farms. Read these farmers stories. SPONSORED CONTENT***

DEL. LAM TO RUN FOR KASEMEYER’S SEAT: Del. Clarence Lam will run for the District 12 seat in the Maryland legislature being vacated by longtime state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Libby Solomon of the Catonsville Times writes. The decision to run, Lam said, was made in collaboration with the other two delegates who represent the district, Terri Hill and Eric Ebersole.

TRONES GIVE BIG TO BAKER: Maryland wine store magnate David Trone, members of his family and his wine company have donated $39,000 to the 2018 gubernatorial campaign of Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), Josh Hicks of the Post reports.

SIERRA CLUB ENDORSEMENTS: The Maryland Sierra Club on Monday issued its endorsements for two state Senate and seven House of Delegate seats up for grabs in this year’s Democratic primary thanks to an incumbent retiring or seeking another office. The organization’s latest selections include Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington in the hotly contested race for the District 18 seat now held by Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is running for governor, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

SLASHING BAY FUNDING: President Donald Trump’s plan to slash 90% of Chesapeake Bay cleanup funding, which could dismantle several decades of environmental restoration, met resistance from Maryland’s Democratic congressional delegation, the Capital News Service is reporting. The cuts, which would drop the budget for Chesapeake Bay programs from $73 million to $7.3 million, are nestled in a proposed 33% decrease in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. That would be a paltry sum “to support the nation’s largest estuary,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland said in a statement.

SENATORS WORRY ABOUT CONSUMER PROTECTIONS: Maryland’s two senators, noting a history of predatory real estate practices in Baltimore, called on the Trump administration Wednesday to abandon plans to strip a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of its enforcement powers, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

ADVICE FROM AN UNNAMED ATTY: An unnamed attorney has advised the Washington County Board of Commissioners not to publicly release information from investigations into a former employee’s complaint about sexual harassment and leaks of confidential information, three commissioners said Tuesday. Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that Commissioners President Terry Baker and Commissioners John Barr and Wayne Keefer said they could not remember the attorney’s name. Baker said that even if he could remember the attorney’s name, he wouldn’t share it.