HOUSE PANEL REJECTS OC WIND BAN PROPOSAL: Maryland House of Delegates committee on Friday rejected a proposal that called for prohibiting wind farms from being built within 30 miles of Ocean City’s coast, a blow to the resort town’s effort to preserve beach vistas, Scott Dance reports for the Sun. But town officials aren’t done fighting.
- The bill pitted the town and its tourism industry against an unlikely coalition of manufacturers, labor unions and environmental advocates, writes Jeremy Cox for the Salisbury Daily Times. “This vote will help ensure that these offshore wind projects years in the making can fulfill their promise to provide Maryland residents with health and climate benefits, good jobs, and more stable electricity rates,” the Maryland Climate Coalition said in a statement.
SENATE OKs CRIME BILL: The Maryland Senate passed a sweeping crime bill Monday night that would raise the maximum prison sentences for dozens of criminal offenses, mostly involving repeat gun offenders, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.
MODERNIZING 911 SYSTEM: For the last two years, Sen. Cheryl Kagan has unsuccessfully introduced bills aimed at modernizing the state’s 9-1-1 system. This year, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports, she has five bills designed to move the state toward what’s known as Next Generation, or Next Gen, 9-1-1. Twenty states have begun building a Next Gen 9-1-1 system, as have local jurisdictions in another 12 states, Kagan said.
GOV’T EMAIL LISTS: The state legislature is aiming this spring to stop the release of government-held email addresses and other residents’ personal information after several people in Montgomery County received email lists that contained more than 200,000 addresses through public information requests, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.
SALARY HISTORY: In a op-ed for Maryland Matters, headhunter Diana Rubin writes in favor of a bill before the Senate Finance Committee to prohibit employers from using salary history in the hiring process and requiring them to disclose the position’s salary range upon request.
BA CO ED BOARD CHAIR ASSURES LAWMAKERS ON REFORM: The chairman of the Baltimore County school board assured state lawmakers Monday that the school district would restore trust and reform the contracting process that former Superintendent Dallas Dance used to award work to a company that was paying him as a consultant. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that board Chair Edward J. Gilliss appeared before Baltimore County’s Senate delegation to address concerns about the district’s spending practices under Dance, who pleaded guilty last week in Circuit Court to four counts of perjury and faces up to 18 months in jail.
NEW BIZ EXPRESS WEBSITE: The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation unveiled a new website Monday designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs plan, start, manage and grow their businesses, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports. The new Maryland Business Express website offers a “chatbot” to guide users through the site 24 hours a day. The digital assistant is believed to be the first of its kind used by any state government for business purposes.
JUDICIAL PAY HIKE: The Maryland Senate Monday night gave final approval to a $20,000 pay raise for 312 Maryland judges over the next four years, $15,000 less than was recommended by the Judicial Compensation Commission in January, Len Lazarick reports in MarylandReporter. The pay raise in House Joint Resolution 3 as passed by the Senate and House also will boost the pensions for 417 retired judges and their surviving beneficiaries by as much as $13,340 a year since those payments are based on the salaries of current judges.
- The resolution does not require Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports. The Senate’s 42-2 vote followed testimony from Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Court of Appeals Judge Joseph M. Getty – a former delegate and senator – in which they told senators the pay increase was needed to entice and retain the best legal minds to the bench.
FREDERICK CHALLENGE GOES TO COURT: Maryland’s highest court will review Frederick County’s years-long challenge to state stormwater management mandates, writes Cameron Dodd for the Frederick News-Post. The Maryland Court of Appeals announced last week it will hear oral arguments in Frederick County’s 2015 lawsuit against the Maryland Department of the Environment.
PURPLE LINE PROPERTIES: Katherine Brzozowski of CNS writes that Maryland may be paying more for some properties in the main path of the Purple Line, state officials said, because one transit agency lacks purchasing leverage, and extended negotiations would cause costly delays. Comptroller Peter Franchot in early February expressed concerns that the state is overpaying for properties it needs to make way for the new light rail. The article appears in MarylandReporter.
WORKING FAMILIES BACKS McCRAY: Maryland Working Families, the progressive, labor-affiliated advocacy group, will announce this week that it is endorsing Del. Cory McCray in his bid to oust Sen. Nathaniel McFadden in the upcoming Democratic primary, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports. The organization’s support will bring independent expenditures on McCray’s behalf, “boots on the ground” – and significant attention from the national Working Families Party, according to Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families.
SEN. NORMAN’s WIDOW NOMINATED: Linda Norman, the widow of the state Sen. Wayne Norman, has been nominated by the Republican central committees of Cecil and Harford counties to serve the remainder of the senator’s term in the Maryland General Assembly. Both committees submitted their nomination of Linda Norman to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Appointments Office Monday afternoon, following committee votes over the weekend, their leaders confirmed. The governor has up to 30 days after a vacancy opens in the Maryland General Assembly to approve a nomination to fill that vacancy, David Anderson of the Aegis reports.
PROGRESSIVE CHALLENGES ZIRKIN: For two decades, voters in northwestern Baltimore County have sent Bobby Zirkin to Annapolis to represent them in the Maryland General Assembly — first as a delegate, then as a senator. But this year some of Zirkin’s constituents, saying his positions aren’t progressive enough for them, persuaded Pikesville lawyer Sheldon Laskin to challenge Zirkin in the Democratic primary for Senate in June. And Maryland Working Families has endorsed Laskin, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun.
CANDIDATE RESPONDS: In a letter to Red Maryland, House of Delegate candidate Mila Johns responds to a short piece Brian Griffiths did outlining several violations she was charged with including a DUI 10 years ago.
MADALENO, JEALOUS PICK UP ENDORSEMENTS: In his Political Notebook column, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes that Democratic gubernatorial candidates Richard Madelano and Ben Jealous have picked up more endorsements and the late Sen. Wayne Norman’s wife will likely be chosen to fill out the remaining 10 months of his term.