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First Click, Maryland -- Bill signings wrap today

First Click

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Thursday, May 20, 2010:

The Agenda
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and state legislative leaders have scheduled a marathon final bill signing session for this morning in Annapolis.

The ceremony -- which most resembles an assembly line, with bill supporters lined up for hours to take photos with the governor as he signs legislation -- provides O'Malley with perhaps a last, best chance to solidify support among voters in areas they currently trust him most.

Bill-Sign.jpgThere are bills promoting renewable energy to help the environment, an area in which 49 percent of voters trust O'Malley, to 25 percent for his chief opponent, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R), according to a recent Washington Post poll. There are also bills to fund new construction of schools (education: 49 percent for O'Malley, to 29 percent for Ehrlich).

The measure that O'Malley's staff has also pitched as the headline of the signing ceremony -- a bill requiring banks to submit to mediation before foreclosing on Maryland homeowners -- might also further a sentiment detected when poll respondents were asked "which candidate best understands problems of people like you?" (41 percent, O'Malley; 31 percent, Ehrlich).

Yet for all the new laws that the O'Malley administration will draw attention to (and there are no policies from the Democratically-controlled legislature this year that he has vetoed), a handful of others might resonate most with his opponents. Others may simply be viewed as an inconvenience or further sign of government intrusion.

O'Malley, for example, will sign a bill banning the use of hand-held cell phones will driving. The ban takes effect in October and will require drivers to use a hands-free device. He will also sign bills increasing regulations on several industries, including even dentists, who will have to get regular inspections of dental x-ray machines.

The governor will also endorse a slew of labor-backed bills that will make it easier for everyone from child-care workers to deputy sheriffs to organize under labor unions. A "Healthy Retail Employment Act" will also make it easier for workers to file complaints when hourly workers in shopping malls and elsewhere believe they have not receive adequate amounts of break time.

They may not draw the most attention, politically, but there are other public safety and consumer protection bills that Maryland residents should note. For example, one bill makes it mandatory for drivers to move over a lane when they come upon on a police car or other roadside emergency vehicle with flashing lights. Other bills seek to clamp down on unscrupulous reverse mortgage practices, child neglect, and workers at nursing homes.

Of the 200-plus bills O'Malley will sign, there's probably something for everyone to like -- or dislike -- depends on what you read.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

State employees in same-sex marriages get same rights as heterosexuals

Thumbnail image for same-sex.jpg"State employees in Maryland can now sign up same-sex spouses as dependents, making them eligible to receive the same health care and other benefits afforded to husbands and wives of heterosexual state employees," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "The change, made public Wednesday, means that O'Malley's administration has followed through in codifying a legal opinion issued in February by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. In that opinion, Gansler overturned a previous attorney general, writing that there was nothing barring the state from recognizing valid same-sex unions performed elsewhere. ... Under the new rules governing Maryland's state employee benefits program, members of same-sex unions with a valid marriage certificate from another state or the District have until June 2 to enroll a spouse for coverage beginning July 1. Political observers expect the move to prompt a legal challenge that could make it all the way to the state's highest court."

Rival blasts GOP for backing Ehrlich
Thumbnail image for brianmurphy.jpg"Brian Murphy, a long-shot Republican candidate for governor of Maryland, is crying foul over a procedural move that effectively throws the support of the state and national GOP behind former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) months before the primary takes place," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Under what is known as Rule No. 11, the Republican National Committee will not "contribute money or in-kind aid to any candidate" in a contested primary unless authorized by RNC members from that state. Maryland Republican Party Chairwoman Audrey Scott and the two other RNC members from Maryland recently approved such a move for Ehrlich. "This is exactly the type of elitist behavior that is infuriating Americans from both parties," said Murphy, a business investor from Montgomery County, who has cast himself as more conservative alternative to the former governor. ... Scott said the move was warranted, in part because of the proximity of Maryland's September primaries to the November general election."

O'Malley to detail oyster restoration plan on Friday
"Gov. Martin O'Malley said Wednesday he will be releasing details about oyster restoration plans for the Chesapeake Bay," writes The AP's Brian Witte. "The plans, which will be discussed in detail on Friday, will include a significant expansion of oyster sanctuaries from 9 percent of the bay's remaining quality habitat to 24 percent. It also will include incentives to boost aquaculture, which is the practice of growing oysters in cages and trays instead of harvesting them directly from the bay. O'Malley pointed out that Virginia is far ahead of Maryland in the development of aquaculture."


"This is an outrageous case of excessive executive compensation in a public institution ... This sort of 'golden parachute' has no place in the public sector."
-- A statement by Gov. Martin O'Malley Wednesday on the $7.8 million package recevied by outgoing University of Maryland Medical System CEO Edmond F. Notebaert. The two-year-old payment was disclosed this week.

"We consider this a motivational tool."
-- Bill Dennison, a scientists who leads the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's annual bay report card project. This week the group gave the bay a "C," slightly better than in 2008, when the estuary earned a C-minus.

baker kickoff.jpg"We need a champion like Rushern Baker to help rebuild our economy and move more families into the middle class."
-- A statement by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Capital Area President Jamie Contreras one of several groups announcing early endorsements for Baker in the Prince George's County Executive's race.


Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each Monday and Thursday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of a top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And other features keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  May 20, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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Next: Ehrlich to endorse Leopold's reelection in Arundel


1) Montgomery County cops step up enforcement on the HOV lanes during rush hour on 270. Between 7-8 AM, there are usually 5-7 cars with flashing lights down the 10 mile stretch from Gaithersburg to the lane divide.

2) Cars must now move over a lane for the cops. The cops are always parked on the left shoulder (ajacent to the HOV lane).

3) HOV lanes on 270 become unusable; forcing 4 lanes of traffic into 3 and completely destroying the morning rush hour.

Good job Maryland.

Posted by: reiflame1 | May 20, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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