Maryland State Board of Elections

Maryland makes getting on statewide ballot easy

How do you get your name on hundreds of thousands ballots in Maryland, get listed in multiple voters guides, get invited to candidate forums across the state, and all with very little effort? Plunk down $290 to the State Board of Elections, fill out a few forms and wait for the candidate questionnaires and forum invitations to roll in. That’s how you do it if you’re a registered Democrat or Republican wanting to run for governor, U.S. senator, attorney general or comptroller.  

Election year politics fuels competing lockbox plans

When Gov. Larry Hogan strode to the podium Wednesday, and started talking about a lockbox for the Education Trust Fund from casino revenues, it had a familiar ring to it. Didn’t Democratic legislators propose a similar lockbox just two weeks ago? The two proposals have somewhat similar goals, but different approaches for increasing education spending. The Democrats want a constitutional amendment that they will send to the voters for approval in November. The governor wants to do his lockbox by statute without any additional voter approval.

Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass. It’s his year in Maryland

Today, February 14, marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, or at least the day the famed abolitionist, writer and orator marked as his birthdate in 1818, since there were no records kept of the enslaved people in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore. Gov. Larry Hogan proclaimed 2018 “The Year of Frederick Douglass” in Maryland and announced a new 131-mile driving tour of sites significant in the life of Douglass, the most photographed American of the 19th century.

Judges defend big 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. 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. “I know it sounds outlandish what we propose,” said Elizabeth Buck, who chairs the independent commission. “I know it sounds crazy.”

The State House meal ticket and other General Assembly factoids

The 150-page report of the General Assembly Compensation Commission released last month contains gobs of interesting data about how the legislature operates and compares to those in other states, even while it recommended no raise for lawmakers during the next four years. One of the more interesting factoids is that last year more than four out of five legislators (82%, 155 senators and delegates) took 100% of the daily per diem meal limit. This is a bit surprising since there are receptions and lobbyist-paid committee dinners virtually every night of the week.

gold gavel

$35,000 pay raise proposed for all 313 Maryland judges

A proposal to give all 313 Maryland judges a $35,000 raise over the next four years faces a hearing Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee.
The recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission will take effect automatically if the legislature does not reject or amend them by March 15 —  and  lawmakers have not hesitated to reject or reduce judicial pay hikes in the past. Salaries for the 173 circuit court judges would go up to $189,433 and the pay for 117 district court judges, the lowest paid of the jurists, would go up to $176,333.

Videos of full Assembly sessions get slim support, even though cost estimates reduced

A brief, perfunctory hearing in a Senate committee Tuesday made a rather weak case for Gov. Larry Hogan’s legislation to make the legislature’s proceedings more open and accessible to the public. Hogan’s Transparency Act of 2018requires the legislature to live video stream and archive all sessions of the House and Senate and their committees, including voting sessions. The governor’s communications staff put out a “Hearing Alert” promoting the bill, but Deputy Legislative Officer Heidi Dudderar was the only person to testify for the legislation before the Senate Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee.  

Larry Hogan faces cancer with good humor — again

Gov. Larry Hogan will probably be sporting bandages on his face for a few days, so explaining that he was having the most common form of skin cancers removed on Saturday was probably a wise way to get ahead of potentially scary news. “Scars are cool. I hate to mess with this beautiful face,” Hogan said.