Tag: house of delegates

Maryland Delegate Goes After Pro-Gay Raven, Accidentally Helps the Cause

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L to R: Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr.

This story ran its course pretty quickly. Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo’s visible support of gay marriage in Maryland caught the attention of Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., who wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on August 29 asking him to “inhibit such expressions from [his] employee.”

Will Maryland Lawmakers Turn to Voters to “End the Gridlock?”

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I’ve resigned myself to the idea that we are definitely going to end up with a sixth casino and an expansion into table games at the General Assembly’s second special session that begins today. I mean, if there isn’t a good chance of passing the gambling bill, why would we march our lawmakers into a special session?

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Urges Baltimore’s Delegates to Vote for Table Games

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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Long-term solutions to a city’s chronic problems are difficult, and by nature slow to bear fruit — so often in politics we gravitate to whatever will put us in the black the quickest and call it a win. So it is, in my opinion, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s push for table games to be added to the state’s five casinos.

Would Maryland Be Better Off with a Full-Time Legislature?

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Do you, like FreeStater Blog author Todd Eberly, believe that the General Assembly’s recent budget and gambling fails –each requiring its own special session — are a sign that it’s time for Maryland to embrace a full-time legislature? Or, like Maryland Reporter‘s Len Lazarick, do you think that the General Assembly does enough damage in 90 days?

Republicans, Democrats Disagree about State Budget

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After Maryland’s general assembly failed to pass a tax package that would balance the budget and defaulted to a “doomsday” budget with heavy cuts to education, Gov. Martin O’Malley has been meeting with Senate and House leaders to work out the terms of a special session to special to address the budget problem, among other things.

But Maryland Republicans don’t see a need for a special session at all. As far as they’re concerned, the “doomsday” budget is overhyped. In the words of Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell, “We can live with this budget for a year.” Okay. So will he be ready to raise taxes next year?

Keeping everything as is, Maryland counties will find themselves in a bind, as they state has required they spend a prescribed amount on education while at the same time cutting aid — producing the type of financial inflexibility that government credit rating agency Moody’s says would be a “credit negative” for Maryland’s county governments.

By the way, a special session would cost tax payers somewhere around $20,000 a day. Let’s make it count, guys!

Maryland General Assembly’s Epic Budget Fail

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The end of a legislative session is like the end of a basketball game.  It is suddenly nothing more than a race against the clock. At least that’s how it was Monday night, when the Maryland General Assembly ended its session at midnight before passing a tax increase necessary to prevent the notorious “doomsday budget” from becoming reality. If no special session is called, Maryland will make huge cuts in spending, which “include over $200 million to K-12 education and $63 million to colleges and universities.”

It’s one of those incredibly pathetic moments in politics, in which our representatives are handcuffed by their own ground rules. Sure, the House of Delegates had the opportunity to extend the legislative session by five days, but that measure was voted down. All the grandstanding, the mudslinging, the interminable campaigns — we endure all of that in the hopes that when it comes down to it our representatives will actually do their jobs.

Still, assuming that Gov. Martin O’Malley will call a special session to tie up loose ends — which he has not yet announced he will do — the legislatus interruptus is almost worth it for House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell’s angry take on the epic fail: “We screwed around on same sex marriage forever.” Okay, maybe it’s only really funny if you imagine him saying it in an exasperated Nixon voice, as I do.

Lawmakers Weigh Their Options with Judges’ Salaries

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How much easier it would be to get my way if at the start of every negotiation I set a short timer on a doomsday device. That’s (sort of) how it’s working for Maryland judges. If the state legislature can’t come to an alternate agreement among themselves by tomorrow, then a 23 percent raise over three years will automatically take effect. And, man, is that making the House and Senate move, move, move!

The Senate passed a resolution to raise salaries by 11 percent, and it looks like the House will approve it, without any amendments at all, even as it seems plenty of them would rather see a pay freeze. As Del. John Bohanan explained to Maryland Reporter, “As a practical matter, we’re not going to have enough time for the Senate to join with us in agreement if we adopt any amendments.” And so, largely, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are agreeing to quickly pass the Senate resolution.

I know even an 11 percent increase seems out of proportion with an austerity budget, but it’s worth it just to see politicians be forced to choose the lesser of two evils. You know, like we often do.

In Maryland Justice Is Blind, and Underpaid, and Considering Joining the Private Sector

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The Judicial Compensation Commission recommended a $29,000 increase in the salary in Maryland judges by 2016 to avoid losing qualified judges to the private sector. This would amount to a 23 percent raise (over four years) to lower-paid judges. It’s true that if you take into account cost of living, Maryland’s judges’ salaries rank 43rd among states. But it’s unlikely that Maryland will be making its way toward the top of that list any time soon.

Henry E. Dugan, president of the Maryland Bar Association, wrote an opinion piece for The Sun, voicing his support for the proposed pay increase. His founding-father-quote-ridden appeal, while making a strong case for the importance of the judicial branch to the American democratic system, fails to address the details, namely, why taxpayers should cough up $14 million to give judges a more than 20 percent raise amid a sagging economy and a “$1 billion budget shortfall.” Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were brilliant, but they weren’t speaking about Maryland post-housing-bubble.

It looks like they’ll get some kind of raise — they haven’t seen one of those since 2006 —  but given State Delegates’ response to the proposal, it won’t be nearly the size they’re looking for. Delegate Guy Guzzone of Howard County couldn’t see awarding judges a raise out of proportion with other state workers. He would consider giving them a two percent raise. How does that sound, guys?

House of Delegates Passes Gay Marriage Bill (OMG Just Barely!)

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Maryland’s House of Delegates, the same chamber that killed a gay marriage bill last year, just passed the new, improved 2012 version, 72-67, after two Republicans jumped ship and voted yea.

That the bill almost didn’t pass the House, even with the full weight of the Governor’s office behind it and with massive outreach to religious black legislators by the Human Rights Campaign, speaks volume about the contentiousness of this issue in one of the “bluest” states in the union.

The State Senate is expected to pass the bill with less nail-biting suspense. But, of course, it will likely end up as a referendum, leaving voters to decide whether Maryland will become the eighth state to legalize gay marriage. With that and the Dream Act on the ballot, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maryland earns a record voter turnout in November.

Now I know the bill has already been thoroughly revamped from the 2011 version, with plenty of clear-cut religious protections, and so on. But before the Senate votes, I would like to suggest one final amendment to the bill: that all wedding receptions must feature water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and that I need to be invited. Thank you.

How Do You Sell Maryland Republicans on Gay Marriage?

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The fate of same-sex marriage in Maryland — at least for the immediate future — could be in the hands of a few Republicans. The marriage equality bill proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley will be unlikely to pass the House of Delegates without the “yea” of at least a couple GOP legislators.

Proponents of the bill are reaching out to a quarter of House Republicans. So far, they’re attempting to frame the issue as one of civil liberties, appealing to the libertarian sensibilities of some Republicans, as well as pointing out the growing support for gay marriage even among the youth, even Republicans. For those with religious objections (which, in Maryland at least, describes some Democrats as well), perhaps they could point to Delman Coates, a baptist pastor in Prince George’s County who supports gay marriage as a civil rights issue, irrespective of his personal views on homosexuality.

If that doesn’t work, maybe proponents could offer to add a section to the bill requiring all same-sex couples to raise their children Republican. Just an idea.

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