State Roundup, February 21, 2018

Print More

SAFE STREETS EXPANSION: Seven months after his grandson was shot to death, Del. Talmadge Branch pleaded with lawmakers at a House of Delegates hearing to fund an expansion of the Safe Streets program throughout the city to prevent more needless deaths like his grandson’s, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. “Last year there were 342 murders; my grandson was 239,” Branch told his colleagues. “I wanted to do something in honor of my grandson, to try to help to save a life and to try to curb this record number of murders in our city.”

LEGAL RECREATIONAL POT: Maryland voters would have their say on the legalization of recreational marijuana if a group of lawmakers have their way. A proposal sponsored by Sen. William C. Smith Jr., D-Montgomery, calls for an amendment to Maryland’s constitution that would legalize recreational marijuana for commercial purposes, which would be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

RALLY FOR WOMEN: A broad coalition of progressive groups rallied outside the State House on Monday night, urging the General Assembly to adopt legislation designed to reduce violence against women and to promote women’s health, economic opportunity and “reproductive justice,” Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

‘JUST PENALTY:’ For the second year in a row, Del. Mary Beth Carozza, R-38C-Worcester, is introducing legislation that looks to provide a “just penalty” for causing life-threatening injury by motor vehicle or vessel. The penalty available in cases of criminally negligent manslaughter is up to three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. But in cases where the crash causes life-threatening injuries rather than death, the maximum penalty available is a $500 citation. The change proposed in Carozza’s legislation would increase the potential penalty to up to 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, Rose Velazquez reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PAY RAISE PROPOSAL CUT: All 313 Maryland judges would get a $20,000 pay raise — $5,000 for each of the next four years, the House Appropriations Committee is recommending. The committee cut $15,000 from the raises proposed by the Judicial Compensation Commission, MarylandReporter is reporting.

SOLICITING MURDER FOR HIRE: Soliciting murder-for-hire is a misdemeanor in Maryland, and prosecutors have just three years to bring charges. State lawmakers from both parties want to change that, Zach Shapiro of Capital News Service reports. A bill, co-sponsored by Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, D-Prince George’s, and Susan McComas, R-Harford, would remove the statute of limitations for prosecuting solicitation to commit first-degree murder. It would also make solicitation, regardless of whether it resulted in death, a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

VOTE TO FILL VACANCIES: For the second time in four years, Del. David Moon of Silver Spring is pushing legislation that would require special elections to fill vacancies in the Maryland General Assembly in some instances, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

CYBERBULLYING BILL CONCERNS ACLU: Legislation to expand Maryland’s law against cyberbullying of youngsters drew praise Tuesday from the mother of a child driven to suicide but scorn from a First Amendment advocate who said the statutory expansion would violate free speech, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

SUPPORT HOGAN CRIME INITIATIVES: In an op-ed for the Daily Record, Don Fry of the Greater Baltimore Committee says that with the high crime and violence rates in Baltimore City, Gov. Larry Hogan’s legislative proposals deserve support.

SECTY RAHN CRITICIZED: A Baltimore lawmaker and a candidate for governor, both Democrats, have criticized Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s transportation secretary after The Baltimore Sun reported that the state operated the city’s Metro system for more than a year after discovering 17 sections of rails failed to meet safety standards, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

TERM LIMITS: More Marylanders approve of the job the General Assembly is doing than those who disapprove, but a majority would like to show veteran lawmakers the door, Danielle Gaines reports for the Frederick News-Post. According to a new Goucher Poll released Wednesday morning, 42% of Marylanders approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, but three-quarters of state residents support establishing term limits in the State House.

MARYLANDERS WEIGH IN ON OTHER ISSUES: More than half of Marylanders say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids, according to a Goucher College poll released Wednesday that also found strong support for imposing term limits on state lawmakers and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Ovetta Wiggins writes the story for the Post.

** HEALTHY SOIL KEY TO MARYLAND FARMS: Prince Frederick farmer Benson Tiralla says that soil health is one of the most important aspects of farming. Monnett Farms was certified in the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program, which recognizes farms that have achieved high levels of environmental stewardship. Efforts like these by Maryland’s farmers are imperative to improve soil quality through nutrient management and keep the waterways clear. Read their story. SPONSORED CONTENT***

MONEY FOLLOWS GUN STANCE: Since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School reinvigorated the debate around gun ownership, the stances on gun issues of Maryland’s congressional representatives — and the funding they receive from advocates of stricter gun laws or more liberal ones — have fallen along familiar party lines, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

McDONOUGH’s FREEBIE: Del. Pat McDonough, who is running for Baltimore County executive, plans to amend his campaign finance reports to reflect that he receives free office space from a major Baltimore-based developer, Pamela Wood writes for the Sun.

Elizabeth Embry and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker after lunch at Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main Street in Annapolis. MarylandReporter.com photo

WHY BAKER PICKED EMBRY: He started his search for a running mate last June, when he announced his candidacy for governor. But it wasn’t until relatively late in the process — during a lunch that almost didn’t happen — that gubernatorial hopeful Rushern L. Baker III (D) decided on Elizabeth M. Embry, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

At lunch at Chick & Ruth’s Delly, Rushern Baker points to an old photo of him, second row third from from left, as  young delegate with plenty of dark hair, MarylandReporter.com photo

BAKER IN MO CO: Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker expressed his admiration for Montgomery County’s efforts to provide social services to its vulnerable population during a Tuesday tour of the county’s homeless shelter for men in Rockville, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports.

WEAK DEM CANDIDATES ALL AROUND: This week, in his Red Maryland blog, Griffiths writes about the running mates of the Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls and how unqualified he perceives most of them – except the only man in the list – to be.

PG COUNCIL LIKELY TO REJECT PAY HIKE: The Prince George’s County Council introduced legislation Tuesday to reject a $10,000 salary boost recommended by the county to offset the likely loss of the lawmakers’ controversial car allowances, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. The bill rejecting the increase was co-sponsored by the council’s nine members, indicating that it will pass. It is the first public indication that county lawmakers are backing away from the proposed increase, which several had described as an important way to bridge the pay gap between them and their counterparts in neighboring Montgomery County.