Republican members of the Maryland legislature took office Monday as the new county executives of three large suburban counties, but for Harford and Anne Arundel counties GOP dominance is becoming a routine event, while in Howard it was just the second time a Republican became executive.
The difference was evident in the inaugural ceremonies of the three counties.
Republican Sen. Allan Kittleman was on the defensive for much of an hour-long debate with Democrat Courtney Watson in the race for Howard County executive Tuesday night, defending his record on school funding and public safety against aggressive criticism from Watson.
Kittleman also took his shots at the Howard County Council member for her support of the "rain tax" and other local tax hikes.
Howard County Democrats have launched a website attacking the record of Republican state Sen. Allan Kittleman, who is running a competitive race for county executive against Democratic County Council member Courtney Watson.
KittlemanFacts.com challenges Kittleman's positions that put him at odds on issues that have strong appeal to Democratic voters -- school funding, abortion, environmental policy, gun control and the minimum wage.
"If it weren't for the more moderate leadership in the Senate, things would be a lot worse than what they are" in the Maryland General Assembly, Sen. Ed Kasemeyer told Howard County business leaders Wednesday.
Workers on many local school construction projects would be paid at a higher rate under a prevailing wage bill approved Tuesday by the Maryland Senate. The bill would increase overall construction costs by as much as 5%, estimates the state Department of Legislative Services.
Sen. Allan Kittleman called it a show of “the arrogance of power” when Senate President Mike Miller ruled he was in violation of the “single subject” rule for legislation. In the end, their fellow senators supported Miller’s ruling and not Kittleman.
Maryland’s controversial legislative redistricting is again the target of bills designed to overhaul the process and make it less partisan. Legislators are trying to introduce transparency and civic participation into the redistricting procedure, which now leaves the governor in control and the process wide open to political gerrymandering.
Two bills aiming to decriminalize or legalize marijuana heard in a Senate committee last week could potentially bring in millions in new revenue for the state, or could wind up costing taxpayers more than ever.
Proponents of the bills point to possible savings on jail time, courts and police, not to mention extra income from taxes on what is now illegal.
With the governor and legislators pushing for an increase in Maryland’s state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, advocates of people with disabilities want to make sure their paid caregivers get higher wages, since the state now only reimburses them at $9.82 an hour.