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Committee cuts judicial pay raise to $20K; Strong support for term limits for legislators, more education funding, $15 minimum wage

All 313 Maryland judges would get a $20,000 pay raise -- $5,000 for each of the next four years, the House Appropriations Committee is recommending. The committee cut $15,000 from the raises proposed by the Judicial Compensation Commission. Three-quarters of Marylanders (75%) support term limits for state legislators, and a majority (56%) support the two-term, 8-year limit proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan, according to part 2 of a Goucher College poll taken last week.

Published on 21 February 2018 | 5:01 am

State Roundup, February 20, 2018

new Goucher Poll finds Gov. Hogan still retains strong support, but re-election is more iffy; legislation proposed to mandate health insurance at the state level; Del. Morhaim says supervised drug use facilities save lives, cut crime, get addicts into treatment; state senator proposes a tax holiday on college textbooks; a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on law and order package; following Florida shooting, some states looking at Maryland gun control laws; there's no Maryland women in Congress, but now one is running for governor and four are running mates; Rushern Baker taps Elizabeth Embry as running mate; and

Published on 20 February 2018 | 1:32 pm

The real story about Supervised Consumption Facilities for drugs

Supervised Consumption Facilities (SCF) are proven effective in reducing drug use, reducing disease, reducing discarded needles, reducing crime, and getting people into treatment. Equally important, there have been no overdose deaths in any of the facilities in operation because a trained rescuer is present at all times.

Published on 19 February 2018 | 11:00 pm

State Roundup, February 19, 2018

The Maryland Women's Caucus released accounts of harassment in the legislature, makes recommendations to answer the problem; state's expansion of contraception did not include state workers; environmentalists find loophole in state's attempts to protect forests; ACLU negotiating settlement with Hogan administration over deleting of Facebook comments; William Kirwan disputes claim that education report won't be released until after the election; Gov. Hogan frustrating Democrats by mirroring ideas, taking credit, critics say; lawmakers may be ready to change insulting wording of “Maryland, My Maryland;” it's relatively easy to get on the statewide ballot in Maryland; delegate candidate's gun raffle fundraiser draws protests following Florida school killings; and Democratic gubernatorial candidates Madaleno and Ross pick running mates.

Published on 19 February 2018 | 1:25 pm

Maryland makes getting on statewide ballot easy

How do you get your name on hundreds of thousands ballots in Maryland, get listed in multiple voters guides, get invited to candidate forums across the state, and all with very little effort? Plunk down $290 to the State Board of Elections, fill out a few forms and wait for the candidate questionnaires and forum invitations to roll in. That's how you do it if you're a registered Democrat or Republican wanting to run for governor, U.S. senator, attorney general or comptroller.  

Published on 19 February 2018 | 1:57 am

Opinion: Annapolis should keep hands off local pensions

About a year ago, I wrote an essay for the Maryland Reporter suggesting the state legislature look to local governments for ideas on how to successfully manage pension systems.  Naturally, the opposite has happened. A delegate is sponsoring legislation that would require local government pensions to provide a potentially budget-breaking disability benefit for some public safety employees.

Published on 19 February 2018 | 1:50 am

State Roundup, February 16, 2018

Kirwan education panel comes out with preliminary report as lawmakers propose $33 million in education fixes; Gov. Hogan urges leaders of the U.S. Senate to kill a House spending provision that would strip the EPA of its authority over the Chesapeake Bay cleanup; new report finds Frederick sewage treatment plant along the Monocacy problematic; protesters circle Government House to oppose gas pipeline beneath the Potomac; House panel effectively kills sick leave law delay; gun rights protesters sue Capital police; Hogans tout Korean dishes in honor of Winter Olympics and Sen. Klausmeier leads Republican rival in new Democratic poll.

Published on 16 February 2018 | 1:31 pm

Chesapeake’s historic waterways paying the price of nutrient trading

Both Maryland and the city of Frederick promote kayaking and fishing on the Monocacy Rive3r. But beyond this advertising to tourists, the state’s and local governments’ oversight of the river have been more passive-aggressive than respectful. On the banks of the Monocacy, the Frederick City Wastewater Treatment Plant disgorges a waterfall of partially treated human waste carrying a gut-wrenching reek of ammonia and illegal amounts of pollution down black-stained boulders into the river.

Published on 16 February 2018 | 2:08 am

State Roundup, February 15, 2018

Gov. Hogan backing financial lockbox for school funding from casino revenues, but won't seek constitutional amendment; women's rights advocates sympathize with parents of slain pregnant woman but ask lawmakers to keep homicide law to just viable fetuses; after perpetrator of noose incident is found not guilty of a hate crime, Sen. Astle seeks to expand its definition; Del. Kipke pushes to give parents of addicted adult children ability to intercede; Baltimore Mayor Pugh won't disband police force despite legislator's suggestion; and gubernatorial hopeful Jim Shea picks running mate from Baltimore City council.

Published on 15 February 2018 | 1:23 pm

Election year politics fuels competing lockbox plans

When Gov. Larry Hogan strode to the podium Wednesday, and started talking about a lockbox for the Education Trust Fund from casino revenues, it had a familiar ring to it. Didn't Democratic legislators propose a similar lockbox just two weeks ago? The two proposals have somewhat similar goals, but different approaches for increasing education spending. The Democrats want a constitutional amendment that they will send to the voters for approval in November. The governor wants to do his lockbox by statute without any additional voter approval.

Published on 15 February 2018 | 12:59 pm

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