Holiday State Roundup, December 21-31

Here are some of the major stories since the last roundup Dec. 21. It was a sign of the slow news that one of the top stories was about a proposal for an official state sandwich, to go along with the official state dessert, the Smith Island cake.

STATE SANDWICH: Cambridge State Sen. Rich Colburn has pre-filed a bill to make the soft-shell crab the state sandwich, as Richard Gorelick writes in the Sun.

Hot dog

From Chick & Ruth’s Delly menu.

(In case you thought the official General Assembly sandwich was a hot dog wrapped in bologna, there are actually two versions of that at Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main St. in Annapolis. One is called the Sen. James Mathias with cheese and a kosher dog, and the “kosher” kosher sandwich with kosher bologna is named the Del. Jon Cardin. The “Peter (Watch Dog) Franchot” is just a plain kosher dog with onion and mustard, and the “Del. Michael Smigiel” is a hot dog with chili.)

CHICKEN FEED: Don’t forget about the ban on arsenic in chicken feed, one of the new laws that went into effect Jan. 1, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

Daniel Leaderman at the Gazette has more on new state laws. Starting Wednesday, Maryland’s veterans will be able to have their military service noted on their driver’s licenses.

MEDICAID AND MEDICARE: Everyone wants to control health care spending, writes Del. Dan Morhaim in the Huffington Post, yet one critical low-cost approach is being overlooked – the use of advanced directives for end-of-life care. (Morhaim is currently the only physician in the House of Delegates, and is the author of the 2012 book, “The Better End: Surviving (and Dying) on Your Own Terms in Today’s Modern Medical World”)

TILL DEATH DO US PART: No, not the gay weddings beginning, the long-serving Sen. Barbara Mikulski and other prominent pols first elected in 1986, writes Josh Kurtz in his Center Maryland column.

ALSTON’S UNDOING: A “dreamer and a dream undone” is the headline on interesting and lengthy feature on former Del. Tiffany Alston, her ascent from life’s challenges, and her undoing by the state prosecutor. Paul Schwartzman and Ann Marimow report in the Washington Post, including a long interview with the delegate, who is still angry about what she sees as political payback.

The Alston saga kept on giving as the Post’s Schwartzman follows up by uncovering a bankruptcy filing seven months before she tried to use her campaign funds to cover her wedding expenses. Alston’s $182,758 in debts included $26,000 she owed her former law partner, who alleged in a lawsuit that Alston had charged tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses to the firm, the court records show.

CAMPAIGN SPENDING LIMITS: A commission launched by the Maryland legislature is calling for an increase in the state’s limits on political contributions as part of an overhaul of its campaign finance laws, John Wagner reports in the Post. The overall $10,000 should rise to as much as $25,000, the commission said.

The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes about plans by lawmakers who served on the commission to introduce legislation implementing its recommendations.

TOP LOBBYISTS: Erin Cox in the Sun reports on the top 10 earning lobbyists, a slight shuffling of the order from last year. John Wagner of the Post reports that gambling interests outspent all others in the past year.

Here are direct links to the State Ethics Commission files posted the afternoon of Dec. 21:

TRANSIT FUNDING: Prince George’s and Montgomery County officials agree to push for more transportation funding in the upcoming session of the legislature, The Post’s Miranda Spivack and Victor Zapana report.

GAMBLING TAKE: In the Washington Examiner, Matt Connolly puts a different spin on gaming expansion, as some experts say the sixth Maryland casino is no sure bet. In a second story, others wonder if a casino so close will make Virginia rethink its opposition to gaming, and one legislator will propose the commonwealth legalize casinos.

DWYER SHOULD GO: The Capital newspaper urges Del. Don Dwyer to give up his seat because of his drunken driving of a boat involved in a crash.

TRIBUNE CO. REORGANIZED: The Tribune Co., which includes the Baltimore Sun, came out of bankruptcy Monday after four years. Here’s the article the Sun itself ran. Jack Lambert from the Baltimore Business Journal has what few details there are about the Sun’s fate in the second half of his story.

THE LION DIES: Former state senator and Judge John Coolahan, known as the Lion of Halethorpe, died on Sunday  and he gets a nice sendoff from the Sun’s Jacques Kelly.

O’MALLEY ADVISOR: Gov. Martin O’Malley gets a new top public affairs advisor, and unusual for O’Malley, whose top aides have been with him for years, the new aide is from out of state and had been running his national political action committee. John Wagner reports in the Post.

O’MALLEY APPOINTMENTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley named Maryland’s chief utility regulator David Nazarian to the state’s Court of Special Appeals Friday while elevating former aide Kevin Hughes, a member of the Public Service Commission, to be its chairman, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

MORGAN PRESIDENT: Morgan State University’s Board of Regents voted to extend the contract of the university’s president for an additional year during a lengthy meeting Friday — reversing a contentious decision to seek a new president, Julie Scharper reports in the Sun. Board members did not offer an explanation for their reversal, nor did they detail the reasons they had previously sought to end President David J. Wilson’s tenure.

GUN OWNERS PRIVACY: A pair of Maryland lawmakers are raising concerns about the privacy and safety of gun owners after a newspaper in New York state published the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

SNOWDEN RESIGNS: Annapolis civil rights activist Carl O. Snowden resigned his post in the Maryland attorney general’s office Friday, one month after his conviction on a marijuana possession charge and following an eight-month absence from the job, Erin Cox and Andrea Siegel report in the Sun. Snowden declined to discuss his resignation, which he called a retirement effective Jan. 8, but said in an email that he would announce his political plans Jan. 18.


About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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