Junior GOP delegates make another attempt to oust House Minority Leader O’Donnell

A movement led by junior Republican delegates is underway to replace Maryland GOP House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. Second term Del. Nicholaus Kipke, 34, Anne Arundel, and freshman Del. Kathy Szeliga, 51, Baltimore and Harford counties, have been named by party insiders as the team running to replace O’Donnell, 52, and House Whip, Eastern Shore Del. Haddaway-Riccio, 35.

Republican legislators struggle against same-day voter registration

Facing the prospect of same-day registration for early voters, Republican delegates battled Wednesday to pass amendments intended to safeguard elections from fraud. Republicans feel that voter fraud is a widespread problem across the state and that most efforts to expand voting access further weaken the integrity of the vote.

GOP delegates offer annual budget alternative

In an annual exercise in fiscal futility, House Republicans unveiled their alternative to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2014 budget Thursday, this time calling for zero growth that would require the governor to cut 2% from his request.

Committee hikes school aid to keep spending per pupil the same

As expected, the education appropriations subcommittee in the House boosted school aid for fiscal 2012 so that all local school systems will receive the same amount per-pupil as they did last year. In his budget, Gov. Martin O’Malley had proposed freezing education funding, but enrollment growth was going to produce less money per student. Education advocates and teachers unions had lobbied heavily for a restoration of the aid.

Sen. Harris refuses to fire aide, bucking Senate president

By Len Lazarick

Republican Sen. Andy Harris is refusing to fire his chief of staff Kathy Szeliga, as Democratic Senate President Mike Miller told him he should. Szeliga is also not planning to stop her unofficial campaign for the House of Delegates, the other alternative Miller suggested in a letter to Harris Tuesday. In a letter to Miller that Harris gave reporters, Washington attorney Dirk Haire, an Annapolis resident representing Harris, said the order was misguided. The letter says Assistant Attorney General Sandra Benson Brantley misinterpreted General Assembly rules, which say “an employee must resign” as soon as the worker “has filed with the elections board to run for state legislative office.”

Szeliga, a Republican, has a campaign committee that has been raising money and she has a Web site touting her candidacy for state delegate in the 7th district. But she has not formally filed as a candidate.