JOB GROWTH: Maryland employers added 7,300 jobs in December, a strong end to a year with the most job creation since 2004, the federal government estimated Tuesday. Jamie Smith Hopkins of the Sun writes that the state’s businesses and government agencies added 36,000 jobs in 2013, modestly better than the year before despite losses in some months as federal contractors and other employers struggled with budget cuts under sequestration.
HEALTH EXCHANGE FIX: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s emergency plan to give insurance to people unable buy it through the broken health exchange cleared the House of Delegates along party lines Tuesday. The plan, approved 94-24 with support from only one Republican, would allow people stymied by the technical troubles of the state’s online marketplace to get retroactive health care through a state program, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.
- Delegates made two amendments to the legislation requiring health officials to provide regular progress reports on enrollment, so the bill will now bounce back to the Senate, Jenna Johnson reports in the Post.
- The bill now heads back to the Senate, which must agree to changes made in the House before the bill can be sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley. Because it is an emergency bill, it can become law immediately after O’Malley signs it, Alex Jackson reports in the Annapolis Capital.
- Lower Shore Dels. Rudolph Cane and Norm Conway were among 94 House members who voted to extend the state’s health insurance exchange until March 31. The other four delegates from the Lower Shore, all Republicans – Addie Eckardt, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Mike McDermott and Charles Otto – voted against the emergency bill, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.
EASING PROTECTIVE ORDERS: The O’Malley administration urged legislators Tuesday to ease Maryland’s uniquely onerous statutory requirement that domestic-violence victims prove the likelihood of future attacks by clear and convincing evidence to secure a protective order against their abusers, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record.
- Maryland lawmakers heard testimony from victims of domestic violence on Tuesday about how proposed changes in the law would increase protections for them, the AP is reporting in the Annapolis Capital. Brandy King, of Sykesville, told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that the current law does not enable her to get a final protective order against her ex-husband, who was convicted of second-degree assault in 2004 for physically abusing her.
REVENGE PORN: Erin Cox of the Sun reports that lawmakers considered two competing bills Tuesday that would make Maryland among a handful of states to consider “revenge porn” a crime. Vengefully posting nude pictures of an ex-lover online would carry jail time under the proposals, two of at least three bills filed this year to target a phenomenon that has grown with websites devoted to so-called revenge porn.
COMMON CORE PROTESTED: About two dozen parents staged a demonstration in Annapolis Tuesday evening, calling on the state to either delay or back out of implementing the Common Core federal education standards, reports Robert Lang for WBAL-AM.
FUTURE WITH LEGAL POT: Curious what legalized pot would look like in Maryland? asks Erin Cox for the Sun. Advocates for recreational marijuana intend to introduce a detailed plan as soon as today that would rely on the state comptroller to heavily regulate and tax pot — at about $50 an ounce to start.
MANAGING PHOSPHORUS: Calls for an economic impact study on the Phosphorus Management Tool received the first of many hearings on Tuesday in Annapolis, blogs Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. While statements to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee addressed well-known concerns, they also revealed two pieces of new information.
DNR BILL OPPOSED: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that representatives for oystermen and commercial fishermen spoke vehemently against a bill on Tuesday that would clarify how the Maryland Department of Natural Resources manages fisheries. The bill, SB145, would define how the natural resources department opens and closes fishing seasons, changes catch limits and modifies where fishing can take place via public notice.
RAIN TAX FIGHT: Frederick County’s strong track record of water cleanup efforts should earn it a pass on the requirement to impose a stormwater fee, state Sen. David Brinkley argued Tuesday. He was one of several lawmakers who presented bills seeking to modify or overturn a state law that mandated what critics have dubbed the “rain tax.” Under the 2012 law, Frederick County and nine other jurisdictions are required to charge a fee to fund stormwater programs, Bethany Rodgers writes in the Frederick News Post.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that a coalition of environmental, religious and commercial developers came out in opposition Tuesday to a number of bills seeking to repeal the so-called rain tax or exempt individual counties from it.
WIDER BERTH FOR CYCLISTS: A proposed law being considered by the Maryland General Assembly would require motorists passing bicyclists to give the cyclists a wider berth. The current law requires drivers to be at least three feet from riders; the proposed law would extend that distance to four feet, writes Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News.
REPLACEMENT SCHOOL NOT IN CAPITAL BUDGET: Severna Park High School needs $107.5 million to build a proposed $134 million replacement. The high school, built in 1959 and frequently cited as one of the best in Maryland from an academic standpoint, was last renovated in 1982, Allison Bourg reports for the Annapolis Capital. Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed capital budget didn’t include Anne Arundel County’s request for $25 million for the school. State officials said it wasn’t high enough on the county’s priority list.
PREGNANT INMATES: Some of Maryland’s local jails still shackle female inmates as they’re giving birth–a harmful and unnecessary practice, women’s advocates say. The state has banned the practice for most circumstances in its prisons, but this doesn’t apply to jails, which hold inmates still awaiting trial. And since it’s only a department policy, it could change with a decision from corrections leaders. Del. Mary Washington has introduced a bill to clarify the rules and make them uniform across all jails and prisons. She brought advocates to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.
SPEED CAMERA AUDIT: Red Maryland’s Mark Newgent, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that the revelations of the secret audit of Xerox State and Local Solutions’ operation of Baltimore City’s speed camera system showing the company had error rates 40 times higher than what city officials were telling the public should prompt a review of speed cameras in other jurisdictions, including state highways.
ASSESSING STATE OF STATE: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts Marta Mossburg, visiting fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute and syndicated columnist; Charles Robinson, political and business correspondent for Maryland Public Television; and Bryan Sears, government reporter for The Daily Record, to review the final State of the State address by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
BROWN IN NY TO BE WITH FATHER: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has canceled his public schedule in coming days to spend time in New York with his 89-year-old father who is in poor health, John Wagner reports for the Post.
- Brown’s absence this week also effects what was to be the first public town hall event in the Democratic primary, write the Sun’s Erin Cox and Michael Dresser. Organizers of Thursday’s event in Montgomery County said they would plan to hold it without him.
ON BROWN’S DEBATE IDEA: WYPR’s Joel McCord and Paul Herrnson of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research talk about why Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s proposed gubernatorial debate schedule is surprising.
PROGRESSIVE MARYLAND: “They’re back.” That’s the message Executive Director Kate Planco Waybright hoped would be the lead of any story about Progressive Maryland’s 12th Annual Awards Gala Tuesday night in Greenbelt, Len Lazarick blogs in MarylandReporter.com.Tea Party conservatives and others on the right might find it hard to believe, but the left wing of the Democratic Party has struggles of its own as it fights to have its voice heard in Annapolis.
LOLLAR PROPOSES NIXING MD INCOME TAX: Maryland Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charles Lollar highlighted his idea to eliminate the state’s income tax during a fundraiser Tuesday with supply-side economics guru Arthur Laffer, writes John Wagner for the Post. Lollar, a Charles County businessman, has proposed phasing out Maryland’s personal income tax, which generates more than $8 billion a year in revenue for the state’s roughly $39 billion budget.
6th CONGRESSIONAL RACE: Republican David Vogt has bowed out of the race for the 6th Congressional District, likely creating an uncontested Republican primary in June, reports Kate Alexander in the Gazette. Vogt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, announced his withdrawal Tuesday, his campaign saying that he was instead considering a run for a “more local office.”
- The combat veteran from Brunswick has been campaigning since June for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D). In a phone interview, he said he decided to bow out because he wasn’t interested in a divisive primary against fellow GOP candidate Dan Bongino, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.
MO CO’S FUTURE DELAYED AGAIN: The annual Committee for Montgomery legislative breakfast, which takes place every December in the Marriott conference center, has the air of a family reunion. It’s supposed to be a look at the upcoming General Assembly session. But it’s more like a nostalgia session for Montgomery County political, civic, business and labor leaders. But that annual trip down Memory Lane sadly seems like a perfect metaphor for the 2014 campaign for Montgomery County executive. As the three Democratic candidates worked the room, it was hard to escape the conclusion that a real conversation about the future of Maryland’s largest jurisdiction is going to be put off for another four years, opines Josh Kurtz in Center Maryland.
VAN HOLLEN BACKS LEGGETT: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen has endorsed County Executive Ike Leggett’s bid for a third term, praising his “firm and balanced hand” in leading the county through the Great Recession, writes Bill Turque in the Post.
BRANSON TAKES ERVIN SEAT: The Post’s Bill Turque is reporting that the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday selected Cherri Branson, a veteran congressional staff member and a Silver Spring resident, to fill the unexpired term of District 5 member Valerie Ervin, who resigned Jan. 3. Branson, 54, prevailed over 18 other applicants who were interviewed for the $106,000-a-year job.