Guest Opinion: Debtors’ prisons still exist in Maryland

The Maryland Constitution – and 80 years of state case law – make clear that a person cannot be jailed for disobeying an order to pay money based on a debt. Yet, debtors’ prisons continue to exist in our state. Legislation (SB 1050/HB 1081) to eliminate debtors prisons in Maryland has passed the Senate but is currently awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

Across-the-board opposition to Hogan’s $5.6 billion Amazon incentive, but bill passes House

Opposition from lawmakers was across the board Wednesday as a final vote took place in the House of Delegates to ultimately approve a $5.6 billion tax incentive package to lure Amazon.com to Montgomery County. While Montgomery County’s House delegation voted unanimously to approve the measure, legislators from other areas of the state — Republicans and Democrats alike — had nothing nice to say about the bill. Many called it a job killer for small businesses.

Bill would provide Internet users in Md. with privacy protection and net neutrality; dies in Senate

Maryland may soon join other states that are putting consumer protections in place to allow residents to determine which personal data Internet service providers may use, while ensuring they’re treated equally regardless of they use the Internet. A bill sponsored by Del. Bill Frick, D-Montgomery, scheduled for a final House vote this week would require Internet service providers to give their customers an opt-in choice before using their personal information for marketing and other third-party uses. The bill would also reset the net neutrality rule requiring Internet providers to treat all customers equally when it comes to Internet speed and fees, a response to the FCC’s 2017 deregulation.

Guest Opinion: Comprehensive crime bill will take us back decades

Caryn York responds to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Sun op-ed on the comprehensive crime bill. She says the bill was rushed, and contains mandatory minimums that will again lead to mass incarceration, contradicting last year’s Justice Reinvestment Act which both she and the governor supported.

School construction funding fight is part of ongoing drive to strip power from the governor

Maryland’s governor has long been considered one of the most powerful in the country, mainly because of his control over spending and appointments. The Maryland General Assembly has for decades sought to chip away at the governor’s power, mainly through spending mandates and other legal restraints. Last week’s action in the Senate and House to pass a new mandate on school construction and take the governor out of the decisions on what schools should be funded is just another chapter in that ongoing drive to shift the balance of power.

Bill would put an armed officer in every school

Determined to pass meaningful legislation in the wake of the Parkland and Great Mills high school shootings, Maryland lawmakers are considering a measure to put an armed school resource officer in every public school. The bill comes as part of a four-bill package being rushed through the General Assembly as session nears end. 

Republican lawmakers cry foul over union ‘evergreen’ contract, other pro-union measures

Republican lawmakers are crying foul over Democratic efforts to pass a bill extending “evergreen” employment terms for thousands of unionized state employees after negotiating parties agreed not to make statutory changes. The proposed bill would allow contract terms for approximately 30,000 state employees to stay in place after a negotiated employment contract has expired if the two parties — the state and its public employee unions  — are unable to come to agreement on new terms. The Senate passed this and several other union-backed measures Monday night in party line votes of 33-14 on each of them.

Equal justice under law Supreme Court

Opinion: Time for Supreme Court to limit gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear the Maryland case of Benisek v. Lamone in what could be a landmark decision for—or against—political gerrymandering.  The decision will either inflame or temper partisan passions, but in either case, will shape the nation for generations to come.

More House Republicans vote against budget

A few more Republican delegates than usual voted against the House version of Gov. Hogan’s $44.5 billion budget Thursday. The final vote was 126-11. The GOP members repeatedly tried to take $1 million away from Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh and his lawsuits against the Trump administration, and they also attempted to provide more income tax relief than Democrats were willing to offer from the windfall the state will reap from the federal tax cuts.