aryland regulators have been taking significantly fewer enforcement actions for water pollution violations lately, a drop that environmentalists call part of a worsening nationwide trend. State officials, though, say the decrease reflects an increased effort to work with violators and prevent minor infractions from becoming major ones.
Bipartisan legislation calling for Maryland voters to weigh in on legalized sports betting in the state sailed through the House Thursday with a vote of 124 to 14. The bill, HB1014, sponsored by Del. Frank Turner, D-Howard, would place a law to allow sports betting at Maryland casinos and horse racing tracks on the November ballot through a voter referendum on a constitutional change. This bill died in the Senate.
The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the state’s $44.5 billion budget for fiscal 2019, just 2.2% higher than this year’s spending plan. The senators heaped bipartisan praise on budget committee chairman Ed Kasemeyer, who is retiring from the Senate this year and got three standing ovations from his colleagues over the past three days as he presented the budget.
The House Judiciary Committee Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would allow evidence of previous sexual predatory behavior by defendants to be admitted in court. The committee’s approval of the “prior bad acts” legislation happened only after advocates of the bill pressured committee leaders, who has been criticized for failing to advance similar legislation in previous years.
This is the last legislative session for 10 senators and 29 delegates as they leave their seats to others, whether by retiring or running for other offices. (We missed two delegates in the first posting, and fixed a couple of incorrect party designations.) Primary and general elections may unseat other lawmakers, but here is the list of the lawmakers that will produce at least a 20% turnover in both chambers.
House Republican leaders on Tuesday vowed to circumvent a powerful House Judiciary chairman by using parliamentary rules to petition a full House vote for a sexual predator bill if the bill did not receive a committee vote by Friday. In an interview on the House floor Tuesday, Vallario told MarylandReporter.com that Del. Vanessa Atterbeary’s bill was in fact on the voting list. “It’s on the list,” Vallario said. “I worked on it over the weekend.
Maryland lawmakers want to place a bet on Maryland casinos. If they change the law to ensure casinos aren’t taxed on losses, casinos say they will be able to bring in high stakes gamblers that would result in increased state revenues. They would also be able to make up for any lost revenue.
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. 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.
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. “In our enthusiasm and support for the Purple Line we’re getting put over a barrel by some of these landowners. And we are having to pay a lot more than the appraised values,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said at a Feb. 7 Board of Public Works meeting.
A bill to allow evidence in court of sexual predatory behavior by people accused of sex crimes advanced last week in the Senate, but chances of the legislation progressing in the House are dim, with one committee leader wanting judges to decide the issue. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed an amended bill Thursday that will effectively allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of other sexually assaultive behavior by defendants. Maryland courts typically never allow that unless it is for the same victim.
A new study for a conservative think-tank criticizes the large unfunded retiree benefits of the Prince George’s County Public Schools, saying it threatens to “crowd out” increased spending on education.