State working to protect voting system against outside interference; House Republicans’ attempt to lower judges pay raises even more rejected; fight expected over giving micro-brewers more head room House OKs two bills on organ donations; Prince George’s senators hope to set up HBCU scholarships in honor of slain Bowie State student; Nick DiPasquale leaves Chesapeake Bay Program; gubernatorial hopeful Kevin Kamenetz hits the campaign trail with running mate Valerie Ervin; and Gov. Hogan files for re-election.
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 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.
This is an updated list of candidates for local, state and federal office in Montgomery County as best as we could determine as of Feb. 12, 2018. Three Republicans have filed for candidacy in the U.S. Senate race, and Independent Neal Simon officially launched his campaign last week. Incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin has three Democrat opponents in the primary election, including convicted U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning. Incumbent Attorney General Brian Frosh, D, will be challenged by Republican Craig Wolf in the general election. John Rea of Anne Arundel County is the third Democrat to enter the 3rd Congressional District race to challenge incumbent Congressman John Sarbanes in the June 26 primary election. Just when we thought the County Council At-Large race couldn’t get any larger, Democrat David Lipscomb filed for candidacy, bringing the total number of Democrat candidates to 31. Legislative District 15 has a new Republican candidate – Marc A. King – and a new Democrat candidate – Amy Frieder. There are now 3 Republicans and 8 Democrats vying to fill one vacant House seat in this district. Democrat Marc Lande joined the Legislative District 16 House Delegate race and David Jeang of the Green Party joined the Legislative District 19 Senate race.
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.
There is so much rancor and finger pointing these days over prescription drug prices that consumers are often left to wonder: who is fighting on their behalf? The answer: Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. Companies and public programs providing prescription drug coverage hire PBMs for their expertise, and ability to reduce drug costs by negotiating for rebates and discounts from big drug companies and drugstores.
Though it begins with aerial shots of the seemingly endless tidal marshes in Maryland’s Dorchester County, the latest Bay Journal documentary is about a fast-approaching future in which that landscape could be entirely underwater. High Tide starts with the image that inspired it: Horton standing waist-deep in water — in what was once a field outside his father’s hunting cabin on the Honga River, where he played baseball as a child. That field is long gone, as are thousands of acres of land that have been lost in recent decades to a mixture of rising seas, erosion and high tides across the county.
It was a chill November morning, the rising sun sloshing light on the tree tops. Larry Walton and I were about half a mile into the woods that line the Nanticoke River near Vienna, Md., when he wrapped his arms around a great old Atlantic white cedar. That tree species once shaded thousands of acres of Delmarva Peninsula swamps with its dense, evergreen canopies, until rampant logging and wetlands destruction made cedars relatively rare. Today, you seldom see specimens like this.
A Democratic senator scolded the Republican vice president of the state school board for his choice of words at an Annapolis hearing Wednesday when describing what he called Maryland’s low-ranking accountability standard used to measure student academic achievement. Chester Finn, vice president of the Maryland State Board of Education, said legislation approved by the state legislature last year placed Maryland “in the cellar” in terms of how U.S. schools rate student academic outcomes, which makes Maryland “second lowest” in the country.
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.
A bill to allow Maryland hunters to wear “daylight fluorescent pink,” sailed out of committee Tuesday minutes after the two young Eastern Shore girls who came up with the idea testified before the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.