THE RACE FOR SPEAKER: Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks said Friday she is supporting Del. Dereck Davis to be the next speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates after the death of long-serving Speaker Michael Busch, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. Del. Adrienne A. Jones, 64, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during Busch’s illness, Davis, 51,and Del. Maggie McIntosh, 71, of Baltimore, are considered to be among three front-runners for the office.
- She described Davis as “fair-minded and respected, able to listen to both sides.” In an interview she called him “very intelligent… with a nimble mind. A thinker.” Davis has said little publicly about his desire to succeed Busch, who served as speaker for 17 years. Neither has the other presumed frontrunner, Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore), the chair of the Appropriations Committee, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.
- Publicly, there is no campaign to be the next speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. Behind the scenes, Del. Maggie McIntosh appears to have it locked up, Erin Cox reports in the Post. As of Friday, according to multiple people familiar with the effort, McIntosh had more than 51 Democrats pledged to support her quest to succeed longtime speaker Michael E. Busch, who died a week ago. That’s enough votes to win a majority of the 98-member Democratic caucus and, if tradition holds, deliver the speakership.
- However, in an unusual twist, Republicans in Maryland’s Democratic-controlled House of Delegates are attempting to play a key role in electing the chamber’s next speaker after the death last week of long-serving Speaker Michael Busch, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.
ZIRKIN TARGET OF CRITICISM: The chairman of a Senate committee is the target of post-General Assembly session criticism by gun control advocates angry with him after a priority bill died on the last day of legislative business, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, is getting the blame for the failure of a bill that would have required background checks on private sales of rifles and shotguns. His chief accuser is the widow of John McNamara, a journalist slain in the attack on the The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis.
CHILD MARRIAGE: The question of whether teens should get married primarily has been a battle among adults. Last Monday marked the fourth year Del. Vanessa Atterbeary has tried — and failed — to raise the minimum marriage age in Maryland, Selene San Felice writes in the Annapolis Capital. The Capital talked to two women who married as teens to see how it affected them.
BILL TARGETS CHILD EROTICA: Pictures and videos of children posed provocatively, with cameras focused on private areas, are considered child erotica and not prosecutable under the state’s current child pornography law because they do not depict a sex act. That could all change. The General Assembly voted unanimously to add “lascivious exhibition,” or exposure of the pubic area of any person, to the state’s child pornography statute, Danielle Gaines reports in Maryland Matters.
OP-ED: MARYLAND SHOULD LOOK TO MICHIGAN: In an op-ed for the Post James Hohman of the Mackinac Center and Carol Park of the Maryland Public Policy Institute urges Maryland to look to Michigan when it comes to fixing the pension problem writing that Maryland faces a looming public pension crisis. Maryland has promised government employees and retirees $21 billion more than lawmakers have saved. For Maryland to avoid Detroit’s fate, Maryland can follow Michigan’s lead in strengthening its workers’ pensions.
OP-ED: HOGAN TRAFFIC PLAN SHOULD BE SUPPORTED: In an op-ed for the Post, Jason Stanford, of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. Rick Weldon,of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and Margaret Jeffers of the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington opine that Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) Traffic Relief Plan represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make significant improvements to our transportation network. It is a bold plan that needs the region’s support.
GBC CALLS ON PUGH TO RESIGN: The Greater Baltimore Committee issued a call Friday for Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign, a repudiation of her leadership by the influential group of business and civic leaders who say she no longer has “public trust or moral authority,” Ian Duncan is reporting in the Sun. The group’s board voted unanimously in favor of issuing a statement, concerned about revelations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in deals she struck to sell copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books.
- The stance by Greater Baltimore Committee places it alone among other regional civic organizations. Groups, such as the NAACP, Baltimore Urban League, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, as of Friday, have declined to take a position on Pugh’s future, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. Pugh, who often touted her background in business, has experienced an occasionally rocky relationship with Baltimore’s business community.
- Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the GBC is chaired by Paul Tiburzi, a senior partner at law firm DLA Piper. Members of the board include Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. CEO Calvin Butler, Howard Bank CEO Mary Ann Scully, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Baltimore Orioles executive John Angelos.
OPINIONS: PUGH NEEDS TO GO: The editorial board for the Sun opines that with each insistence from Mayor Catherine Pugh and her advisers that she intends to come back to office when her health allows — despite a unanimous call for her to resign from the City Council and from the city’s House delegation because of the fallout from the Healthy Holly scandal — it becomes clearer that the lack of any means to remove a mayor from office short of a criminal conviction is a problem. But that’s not the only change to the charter council members should explore.
- On April 8, the editorial board urged Pugh to resign, opining that, faced with a deepening scandal surrounding sales of her self-published children’s books and a catastrophic loss of public confidence, Mayor Catherine Pugh must resign. She has been unable or unwilling to present a credible defense of her business dealings, she is under ethics and criminal investigations, and, in what must be regarded as the final straw, all 14 members of the City Council signed a letter demanding her resignation.
- In its April 9 editorial calling for Pugh to resign, the Washington Post editorial board also gave props to the Sun, writing that “Ms. Pugh, now on a leave of absence owing to what she says are health concerns, has been the subject of investigative stories in the Baltimore Sun, whose enterprising reporters have uncovered one sleazy deal after another.”
- In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar says it’s time for Pugh to exit the scene and let Jack Young take over. He adds that Baltimore did pretty well following the 90 day legislative session in Annapolis.
- In an opinion piece for Bethesda Beat, Adam Pagnucco writes that Baltimore’s “Healthy Holly” book scandal, which has metastasized from a conflict of interest between Mayor Catherine Pugh and a hospital system into possible contracting misconduct, may only just be starting to roll over the cliff. But as it unfolds, let’s keep in mind two things: It’s nothing new. And MoCo residents are paying for it.
- Frank DeFilippo of Maryland Matters opines that Baltimore’s “physical deterioration and the rise in crime hastened under Pugh, a weak administrator at best, and a feeble presence at worst. She bumbled the hiring or the appointment of four police commissioners.”
HONORING MICHAEL BUSCH: As Maryland begins to officially honor the late Speaker Michael Busch, the longest serving speaker in Maryland history, opinion makers and others roll out their salutes in the Annapolis Capital, his hometown newspaper.
- Funeral services for Michael E. Busch, speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, will be a major undertaking, with public ceremonies, a host of dignitaries and plenty of opportunities for the public to say farewell.
- Anne Arundel County will waive fees to all county parks this week to honor the memory of Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch, who died last Sunday, the day before the session ended.
- Jimmy DeButts writes that the best way to honor Busch would be to adopt his across the aisles brand of civility.
- Lisa Hillman writes that, “Many have expressed sadness over the death of Mike Busch. Many also have said his death was deeply personal. But few have had a view of Mike as I did. From my kitchen window, there’s a clear shot of State Circle and the entrance where Speaker Mike entered and exited for some 16 years.”
- Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Alice Cain write that “decades of selfless service means that Mike Busch will live on in the millions of public school students who will receive a better education, the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who now have access to healthcare, every time a Marylander wades into a cleaner Bay, and every time an Annapolitan enjoys the fine art or music of Maryland Hall.”
6,670 PREAKNESS SEATS ELIMINATED: The last remaining historic section of Pimlico Race Course is being shut down a month before the Preakness Stakes after an engineering firm determined that 6,670 seats in the Old Grandstand’s open-air section are “no longer suitable to sustain that level of load bearing weight,” Doug Donovan of the Sun reports.
WOMAN TAPPED TO LEAD BA CO FIRE DEPT: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. has named nominees for four top county positions, including the first woman to be nominated as fire chief, Libby Solomon of the Towson Times reports. Joanne Rund, a 32-year employee at the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, would be the first permanent female fire chief in the county’s history, according to a news release.
METRO FUNDING: Maryland’s U.S. senators are in the process of drafting a transportation bill in Congress that would grant the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority at least $150 million a year for the next decade, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports.