State Roundup, March 6, 2018

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SENATE OKs TAX RETURN REQUIREMENT: Presidential candidates hoping to have their names on the ballot in Maryland would have to release five years of federal tax returns if a measure approved Monday by the state Senate becomes law, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. The bill follows the 2016 campaign in which Republican Donald Trump broke with tradition by refusing to release his federal tax returns. It passed 28-17 after a brief but heated debate on the Senate floor.

HARASSMENT LEGISLATION: Three state delegates said publicly on Monday they have been victims of sexual harassment on the job in Annapolis, and they called for a new policy that would take politics out of investigating future complaints, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. Two of their male colleagues said they’ve witnessed groping or other sexual impropriety, and that the Maryland General Assembly needs a better process to ensure victims are protected and willing to come forward.

OPEN LETTER BACKLASH: The open letter — signed by almost every female lawmaker in the Maryland General Assembly — was supposed to refocus attention away from ugly allegations about sexual harassment in Annapolis and onto women’s progress in the legislature and efforts to address inappropriate conduct. But, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post, the missive released last week created a backlash, with the head of the women’s caucus asking for her signature to be removed and alleged victims of harassment saying they felt blindsided and further marginalized.

LOBBYIST DENIES KAGAN ACCOUNT: Lobbyist Gilbert J. Genn is pushing back against allegations he inappropriately touched a female member of the Maryland General Assembly in a late-night incident in an Annapolis bar last week, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. That lawmaker, Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery), maintains that Genn, a former colleague in the House of Delegates, brushed her back and “tush” in a manner that she considered “completely inappropriate.”

ANALYZE AMAZON BILL IMPACT: The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill intended to attract Amazon to Montgomery County. If this legislation is fast tracked after last week’s hearings, Maryland will lack information it needs to make a smart decision about whether it should subsidize Amazon. While attracting quality employers is an important responsibility for state and local governments, research shows that many governments fail to do a thorough job analyzing the likely outcomes from their subsidy offers to corporate employers, political science professors Roy T. Meyers and Eric Stokan opine in MarylandReporter.

ERASURE OF POLICE NAMES CALLED ‘HONEST MISTAKE:’ An “honest mistake” caused the names of police officers to vanish from Maryland’s public online database of court cases, a retired judge behind the change said Monday. Tim Prudente of the Sun reports that the officers’ names disappeared from the Maryland Case Search online database last week without warning, sparking an outcry from attorneys, elected officials, journalists and advocates of transparency in government. Suddenly, the public could no longer see who had made an arrest.

FOOTBALL BILL KILLED: Maryland House of Delegates committee has killed a bill that would have prohibited tackling in football and heading in soccer by kids in elementary and middle school, reports Jeff Barker in the Sun. The Ways and Means Committee overwhelmingly rejected the measure, which its sponsor had called a “public health” bill.

Sen. Wayne Normn’s desk. From Facebook

SEN. NORMAN REMEMBERED: The Senate committee on which Sen. Wayne Norman served routinely handles some of the General Assembly’s weightiest issues — rape, murder, prisons. That made Norman’s presence on the Judicial Proceedings Committee all the more valuable, his colleagues said Monday night, as they gathered to mourn his death, writes Scott Dance for the Sun.

MANUEVERING TO FILL NORMAN’s SEAT: The Maryland Republican Party’s plans for putting forward the right candidate to fill the empty slot on the ballot in place of the late state Sen. Wayne Norman are part contortionist’s wizardry and part political razzle dazzle — but all legal, reports William Zorzi for Maryland Matters. No one in the GOP wanted to encroach on the genuine grief of Norman’s friends and family, but the simple truth of the matter was that the party faced a deadline under state election law for coming up with a candidate to run for his District 35 seat before 5 p.m. Monday.

SUPER PAC TO AID WOMEN CANDIDATES: A Baltimore woman involved with the progressive Indivisible effort in Maryland has created a super PAC intended to capture the energy of the “Me Too” movement to support women running for Congress this year, John Fritze of the Sun reports. Sarah Sherman said the Vote Me Too political action committee would focus on creating videos to support female candidates and distribute that content through social media.

HARRIS ONLY MD CONGRESSMAN TO GET NRA FUNDS: As congressional gun talks ramp up, advocates for stronger safety laws have called for their representatives to stop accepting campaign finance donations from the National Rifle Association. No Democratic lawmakers from Maryland have received any campaign contributions from gun rights or gun safety groups so far this year. However, Jarod Golub and Julia Karron of Capital News Service report, Rep. Andy Harris, R-1st, has received $1,975, bringing the total since his first campaign in 2008 to $25,447 in funding from the NRA. No other senator or House member from Maryland has received contributions from gun rights advocacy groups, records show.

MO CO SEEKS TOUGHER NATIONAL GUN LAWS: Following the high school shooting at Parkland, Fla., pressure is growing on Congress to toughen gun laws. And the latest call is coming from Montgomery County, where political leaders, police and students rallied on the steps of the Montgomery County Council Office Building in Rockville to demand stricter gun laws nationally, Dick Uliano of WTOP-AM reports.

PLANNED FEDERAL CUTS ALARM CARROLL PROGRAM: Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. is asking people to call their congressional representatives over proposed federal budget cuts that the nonprofit believes will harm programs designed to help seniors, young children and the disabled, reports John Kelvey for the Carroll County Times.