First Click -- Maryland
Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis
Wednesday, February 24, 2010:
An election preview (not of 2010)
Let's get a little ahead of ourselves.
This weekend, those addressing an annual statewide convention of the Young Democrats of Maryland will include: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).
It's starting to look a lot like 2014.
True, we've got to get the 2010 elections out of the way first. But between now and September 2014 -- when Maryland holds its first post-O'Malley Democratic primary for governor -- these guys are certain to see a good deal of one another. No doubt others will be in the mix as well, including perhaps Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) and former Prince County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D).
In the meantime, it will be hard not to view most everything the 2014 hopefuls do through a political lens, as they jockey for attention and standing. Gansler, Brown and Franchot should all be visible in the remainder of the 90-day legislative session.
Any day now, Gansler is expected to issue an opinion on whether Maryland can recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This will be a legal opinion, of course, but the political ramifications are hard to overstate. Gansler is already on record as the first statewide official in Maryland to support gay marriage.
Gansler is also pushing a bill this session to do away with contested elections of circuit court judges. He has landed former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for an upcoming panel discussion on the subject, which is certain to raise the profile of the issue -- and of Gansler.
Meanwhile, Brown, a former delegate, could be found testifying in the Senate Tuesday on a bill backed by his boss, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), that aims to increase the state's recovery in Medicaid fraud cases. It's not the sexiest issue, but passage of the bill would bolster Brown's reputation for accomplishing heavy legislative lifts. A similar bill was defeated last year after intense lobbying by doctors and hospitals. Among the successful legislation in Brown's portfolio last session: a pair of bills to aid domestic violence victims that had previously been defeated by a House Judiciary Committee with a reputation of being friendly to defense lawyers.
And let's not forget Franchot, who is easy to underestimate politically. He is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning at a rally for a bill that would require all Maryland students to take a course in financial literacy before graduation. To this point, the bill has not been terribly high on the Annapolis agenda. But to promote it, Franchot has been touring high schools around the state -- out where real voters reside.
News You Should Know
Republicans offer alternate 'vision' for Md.
"Saying the state can no longer afford many Democratic initiatives, Maryland Republicans on Tuesday called for cuts to education, layoffs of 500 state workers and suspension of state funding of abortions, stem-cell research and union-backed living-wage programs," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "Republicans' assessment of Maryland's budget problems, far more dire than the one presented last month by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), came in response to an invitation by Democratic legislative leaders to present an alternative to the governor's budget. It was the first time in more than 10 years that the legislature's budget committee chairmen have called a hearing on the GOP's budget proposals. ... Republicans' plans would shrink the state's executive branch; shift more pension costs onto government employees; and severely constrain state government budget growth for the next five years in hopes of saving enough money to lower individual and corporate tax rates to a level close to those of neighboring Virginia."
Developer alleges fraud in slots petition drive
"Cordish Cos. sued the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections on Tuesday, alleging that it was overlooking "glaring and massive" fraud in a petition drive seeking to derail the developer's plans to build a slots casino at Arundel Mills mall," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The suit, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, comes amid an effort to give voters a say on whether Cordish should be granted zoning approval to build the 4,750-machine casino. ... Andrew C. White, a lawyer for Cordish, said the lawsuit 'speaks for itself.' 'It goes to the heart of the integrity of the electoral process, and whether or not election boards should or should not concern themselves with issues of fraud,' White said. Cordish is seeking an injunction that would require the elections board to investigate allegations of fraud and 'take appropriate action in response.'"
Md. schools allowed to seek snow days waivers
"Spring break is in significantly less peril for public schools in Maryland after the State Board of Education decided Tuesday to allow schools to request waivers for the minimum number of days they must be in session this year," writes The Post's Michael Birnbaum. "A snowy winter has forced many school districts to come up with creative ways to make up for lost time, including lengthening class days ... The state board's decision, which allows school systems to dip up to five days below the 180-day minimum school year, makes it likely that most other districts won't follow suit."
Snow slows ICC progress
"This winter's record snowstorms, on top of last year's rainy spring, summer and fall, have put construction of the 18.8-mile Intercounty Connector months behind schedule, but project officials say they still plan to open the highway's first 7.2-mile segment this fall," writes The Post's Katherine Shaver.
"Despite all of our efforts, we have flaws in the system" and fixing laws that project children is "the ultimate issue of why we're here in office."
-- House Speaker Michael E. Busch telling lawmakers that as the father of an 11-year-old girl, he was particularly moved by the death of Sarah Foxwell and supports efforts to tighten restrictions on sex offenders
"We have a vision, and it is a vision of hope."
-- House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell presenting a plan to cut spending on education, lay off 500 workers and make other cuts to bring the state's budget in balance
"The state took the money they had been providing for 30 full years, and left the inmates to county government with no support."
-- Arthur Wallenstein, the Montgomery County Department of Corrections director, speaking on a bill that would provide relief to counties, which have been pinched by the state's decision to stop reimbursing them for housing inmates
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Aaron C. Davis
February 24, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner
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