Tag Archives: Maryland General Assembly

Update: The case of Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard and PG -402-17

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Delegate Carolyn JB Howard

Today at 9am, the Prince George’s County  delegation on Education Committee held a meeting in Annapolis following our  expose concerning Bill PG -402-17. Efforts to verify what was discussed about the bill were unsuccessful as Delegate Carolyn JB Howard was said to be in a way and means meeting . Members of the Education sub committee in the delegation side for Prince George’s County  are listed below. We will update you once we receive more information concerning the bill and other matters.

Chair Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Vice-Chair Delegate Daryl Barnes
Members Delegate Tawanna Gaines
Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk

Delegate Carlo Sanchez

Delegate Carolyn JB Howard

Counsel Lynne Rosen
Committee Staff Peggy Callahan

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Md. Senate backs resolution allowing AG to sue federal government

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ANNAPOLIS, MD – JANUARY, 6: Attorney General Brian Frosh (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

After a nearly two-hour debate, the Maryland Senate approved a resolution late last week that gives the attorney general authority to take legal action against the federal government without having to first get permission from the governor.

The measure, which is on a legislative fast track, now goes to the House. The Senate’s 29-to-17 vote came more than a week after Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) said he asked Gov. Larry Hogan (R) but did not receive clearance to move forward to sue the Trump administration.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Frosh, said Friday that the attorney general sent a letter to the governor on Feb. 1 asking for permission to take legal action against President Trump’s controversial entry ban but never received an answer.

“He has not said yea or nay,” Coombs said.

During a media event in Baltimore on Friday, Hogan was asked about the resolution and whether he responded to Frosh. He said the two had gone “back and forth” over the issue.

“He is an independently elected constitutional officer and he does what he wants to do, and now the legislature has given him more power,” Hogan said.

Senate Democrats moved the resolution quickly, to the chagrin of Republicans, who said the measure was a partisan attack against Hogan in an attempt to tie him to Trump.

But Democrats balked at the notion, saying 41 other attorneys general can bypass the governor and legislature to sue the federal government.

Sen. Dolores Kelly (D-Baltimore County) said the state attorney general should be able to respond to the actions being taken by the Trump administration on immigration, health care, consumer protections and the environment.

“Time is of the essence,” she said. “So many threats and actions are in fact impacting states’ rights.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who has expressed his concerns about the future of the Chesapeake Bay, told his Republican colleagues that the resolution was “aimed at Capitol Hill” and had “absolutely nothing” to do with Hogan.

On Thursday, the majority of the Republican caucus walked out in protest after trying unsuccessfully to delay an initial vote on the resolution.

In other business Friday, lawmakers in the House approved a bill that would prohibit firearms on Maryland’s public college campuses. The legislation, which moves to the Senate for consideration, passed 84 to 49, with no Republicans supporting it and four Democrats voting against it.

Advocates say the bill would improve campus safety, but Republicans said it would strip individuals of their constitutional right to bear arms and their ability to protect themselves.

“This bill doesn’t create safe spaces. It creates target zones,” said Del. Robin L. Grammer Jr. (R-Baltimore County).

Del. Pam Queen (D-Montgomery), an assistant professor at Morgan State University, said guns on campus could cause fear and stifle intellectual debate, potentially cause minor altercations to escalate into deadly violence, and create anxiety among faculty over posting grades.

“College campuses are a special place — a special place to foster education, to be devoid of physical intimidation, to have a right to an education in a safe environment, to have an exchange of ideas from various people,” she said.

Republicans failed to win support for several amendments to the bill, including language that would have required colleges to arm their security forces and provided an exemption for cases in which state police have determined that an individual’s life is in danger.

The bill would require colleges to notify the public of the firearm ban with signs posted in prominent locations, including at campus entrances.

The House passed similar legislation last year, but the Senate never voted on it.

Via Washington Post

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In this file photo, a Maryland State Trooper stands guard at the doors to the Maryland State Senate chamber in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, the first day of the 2017 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) **FILE**

The Maryland Senate voted 29-17 Friday for the resolution. All of the Senate’s 14 Republicans and three Democrats voted against it.

Supporters cited concerns about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and worries about lax enforcement of regulations to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Democrats also noted economic concerns relating to possible reductions in the federal workforce, because Maryland has a large number of federal workers. They say their constituents are scared about what may happen next in Washington.

Maryland Attorney General misconduct in the State of Maryland is terrifying:

However, the real reasons Maryland legislature voted for Maryland Attorney General to have more powers was something else – and they’re terrifying. We will be highlighting this shortly in this blog including interference of state courts by the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland in conspiracy with the Maryland Democratic party regime. Stay tuned. 

It is utterly depressing to have to accept the fact that so many legislators in Maryland voted to give more power to the Attorney General who is engaged in misconduct, if only by proxy, colluding in their own subjugation, but to understand why it has happened is incredibly important.

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The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous…. While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of the worst. 

—Former U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson

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Governor Hogan Declares War on Corruption

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Governor Larry Hogan

Governor Larry Hogan declared war on the Culture of Corruption in Annapolis today by introducing his Integrity in Government Initiative.

 

You can watch all of Governor Hogan’s press conference here.

Integrity in Government Initiative – January 19, 2017

To say that Governor Hogan’s proposed reforms are much needed would be a bold understatement. In light of the issues surrounding corruption that have been exposed in recent weeks, these changes are both unfortunate but also necessary in order to ensure that the people of Maryland can have faith that both the executive and legislative branches of Government are responsive to peoples needs.

The Public Integrity Act will finally put some sort of restrictions on lobbying by legislators, former legislators, and former executive branch employees, as well as appointees to executive branch commissions. This legislation was certainly influenced by the corrupt deals made by Delegate Dan Morhaim as he worked for marijuana legislation that would further enrich him in his second job. So much corruption in Annapolis revolves around the lobbying and lobbyists, and the restrictions on lobbying as well holding members of the General Assembly accountable to the State Ethics Commission creates a more even playing field that should root out the remaining corruption in the General Assembly.

The Legislative Transparency Act is something that is so basic and so easy to do that it should be a no-brainer. Most citizens do not have the time to travel to Annapolis to ensure to see what their Delegates and Senators are doing. The idea that any citizen can watch the proceedings of the General Assembly live or at a time of their convenience gives voters the opportunity to see exactly how their General Assembly members vote and how they behave on the floor of the General Assembly. This will give people the chance to see exactly what happens whether its during regular session or whether its middle of the night shenanigans that has occurred in the past.

The Liquor Board Reform Act is a master stroke that ensures that State Senators and members of local political parties can no longer put political party apparatchiks into positions of power as Liquor Board Commissioners. It’s the last remnant of the old boy network that used to govern Maryland for decades, when State Senators controlled all political patronage in their county.

The Redistricting Reform Act is something that we at Red Maryland have supported for a long time. You can read about our previous writing on redistricting here.

So what are the chances that any of the Governor’s initiatives get passed by the General Assembly? Slim and none. Democrats in Annapolis are more interested in political games and ensuring the status quo than they are passing meaningful reform to protect Maryland from political corruption. They certainly do not want to cut off the spigot of opportunities open to Maryland Democrats They won’t seek to subject themselves to the higher standard of behavior and ethics that Governor Hogan seek for government officials in Maryland. They certainly do not want to relinquish the last vestiges of patronage remaining to senior elected officials and party leaders. Nor will Democrats wish to subject themselves to Redistricting Reform that  will invariably wind up in more equal legislative and congressional districts that could mean tougher re-election campaigns and large Republican gains in the House and the Senate.

So we should all expect Maryland Democrats to oppose the Integrity in Government Initiative because it’s not in their political or financial interests to do so.

We should, however, applaud Governor Hogan for putting forth this kind of meaningful legislation. While Democrats try to play political games, the Governor is putting forward legislation that will fix the culture of corruption in Annapolis once and for all. Let us hope that those who oppose this type of common sense legislation for their own personal benefit do so at their own political peril.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/01/governor-hogan-declares-war-on-corruption/maryland-map

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Hogan warns that a ‘culture of corruption’ could be taking root in Annapolis

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis during the last legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared Thursday that the State House was at risk of succumbing to a “culture of corruption” and proposed a package of bills he said would help weed out unethical behavior and improve public trust.

Hogan’s Integrity in Government Initiative comes in the wake of recent scandals in Annapolis, including the guilty plea of a former state lawmaker who admitted to accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for official favors and the indictment of a Baltimore Democrat, who had been nominated for a General Assembly seat, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.

The guilty plea, entered by former delegate William A. Campos (D-Prince George’s), was a result of an ongoing bribery probe centered on liquor sales in Prince George’s County. Federal prosecutors say additional elected officials in Annapolis have been implicated.

“We cannot allow the unethical behavior of the few to tarnish the goodwill of the many in our state capital,” Hogan said during a news conference in front of the State House. “Marylanders are now asking how many more public officials have to be indicted before we are finally going to take the actions necessary to clean up this mess.”

Hogan offered few specifics about the legislation he would propose. But he said he wanted to make it harder for lawmakers to influence bills affecting industries in which they have a financial interest and also wanted legislators accused of ethics violations to be investigated by the State Ethics Commission, rather than the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

 Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange III (D-Anne Arundel), who co-chairs that committee, pushed back against Hogan’s characterization of the state capital and defended his panel, saying the lawmakers do hold their colleagues accountable.

In recent years, the committee recommended reprimanding a delegate for pushing a law that would have helped him regain his real estate license and stripping Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) of committee assignments for failing to disclose his work consulting for a grocery chain. In 1998, the committee recommended the expulsion of a senator accused of misusing his office for private gain.

 “I’m baffled why he would think that legislators can’t do their job as they’ve done many times before,” DeGrange said.

“To say there’s a culture of corruption in Annapolis is just beyond me,” he said. “It’s no different than any other profession, if you will. You’ll have a percentage, which is a very small percentage, that don’t do things right, and those things are addressed as they come up.”

But with the federal bribery investigation still underway and speculation rampant in the capital about who else may be involved, Hogan’s proposals seemed likely to gain traction.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) released statements saying they looked forward to working with the governor on ethics reform, which Miller said would be a “major topic in the 2017 legislative session.”

Miller and Busch declined to answer questions about the governor’s proposals on Thursday, saying they had not seen the legislation.

 Hogan said he wants to overhaul how liquor board commissioners are chosen in Maryland, which he called one of the “last vestiges of the patronage system.” The federal probe includes bribery charges against then-Prince George’s liquor board commissioner Anuj Sud and commission executive director David Son.

Under current rules, local party central committees, along with local senators, recommend liquor board members to the governor, who appoints the boards. Hogan proposed removing the party committees from the process and requiring nominees to undergo criminal background checks.

Hogan also said he had allocated $1.2 million in the state budget to allow all General Assembly meetings to be live-streamed. Maryland is one of only seven states not to provide that service already, he said.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the executive director of Common Cause, applauded the move, noting that her group long has pushed to have legislative meetings publicly broadcast. “There is a possibility that we will see a dozen bills that Common Cause has worked on for five or 10 years presented with a bow on it, and that is incredibly exciting,” she said.

 But Bevan-Dangel also said she was eager to see more details of the legislation. “It is a little ironic that a press conference on transparency did not have transparency, including details on the legislation,” she said.

Hogan’s ethics reform proposals appear aimed in part at addressing a controversy surrounding the legislature’s foremost champion of medical marijuana, who continued pushing for bills related to the industry after being hired as a consultant to a medical marijuana business.

State ethics laws generally allow lawmakers to vote on bills that broadly affect the industry in which they work, and Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) has maintained he did nothing wrong because none of his legislative actions was specific to the dispensary in which he was involved.

Education leaders in Maryland involved in Corruption wary of Gov. Hogan’s plans

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Governor Larry Hogan

 

SEABROOK – In the same week that Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell announced his proposed budget, seeking more investment in the public school system, Gov. Larry Hogan announced his plans to put more state money toward private schools.

On Dec. 13, at a private school in Baltimore, Hogan announced his intent to double the funding for private school vouchers over the next three years. Last year Hogan, in partnership with the Maryland General Assembly, passed a bill to launch the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program with an initial funding amount of $5 million.

“Our administration has made education our number one priority, and we are working hard to ensure that every single child in Maryland is given the chance for a great education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” Hogan said.

The BOOST program helps low-income families pay for their students to attend non-public schools by providing scholarships to students. When the program started, BOOST had an advisory board that determined the criteria for eligible students and the schools the students could attend. That board also set the scholarship amount.

During the inaugural year BOOST received more than 5,000 applications statewide, from which more than 3,000 were approved for the program.

Hogan believes the overwhelming response shows a need for further investment in the program.

“This year, we will again be funding the BOOST program, and we will be doubling the total funding over the next three years to $10 million in scholarships by Fiscal Year 2020,” he said.

Although Hogan has made his intentions clear, and believes in the BOOST program, some in the public school realm believe the move is a step in the wrong direction. Especially when the public school system in Maryland, inspite of gains, requires new investments to further programs and address a backlog of capital improvements needs.

Maryland State Educators Association (MSEA) President Betty Weller called Hogan’s plan a “Trump-like initiative” that would send Maryland taxpayer money away from public schools to private schools.

“According to independent experts, Maryland’s public schools currently have $2.9 billion less than what they need to help every child succeed,” she said. “Our kids rely on strong neighborhood public schools to prepare them for a college education and stable career, and we have a moral obligation to fill those equity gaps.”

While $5 million over three years may be a drop in the bucket for the state’s budget, MSEA sees the investment in BOOST as a redirection of funds from the public school system. Weller called the BOOST program wasteful and said the General Assembly should stand with public schools by eliminating the program.

“Maryland educators are deeply frustrated by Gov. Hogan’s proposal to drain twice as many resources from our public schools to subsidize private schools. The governor’s alliance with President-elect Donald Trump – who has proposed the idea of using $20 billion in taxpayer money for private school vouchers – on privatizing our public schools should be alarming to every Marylander who believes in the importance of public education,” Weller said.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, III shared similar thoughts, urging Gov. Hogan to reinvest in the public school system rather than on private school vouchers.

“Gov. Hogan’s proposal to spend $10 million on private school vouchers sends the wrong message about Maryland’s commitment to a great public education for every child,” Baker said in a statement. “Our public schools serve students from every neighborhood, every socioeconomic group, and every race, religion, gender and learning level. Instead of diverting money away from students who need it most, I urge Gov. Hogan to reinvest in Maryland’s public schools.”

In Prince George’s County, Maxwell just proposed a $2.05 billion schools budget, and while that budget will be looked at by both the county board of education and the county council, the budget asks for a large increase in state funding.

This year’s proposal requests more than $1.12 billion from the state, which is more than $33 million more than the previous year, and a move like Hogan’s may cast doubt on how far the state is willing to go to see improvements in local public school systems.

“Diverting public funds towards private school vouchers is the wrong approach. Now is the time to increase on our investment in public schools so that every student receives the 21st-century education they deserve,” Baker said.

Still, the state received more than 5,000 applications for the program, which specifically targets “areas with under-performing schools,” showing that there is interest in the program.

Ultimately, the General Assembly will decide the fate of the funds.

via Prince George’s County sentinel

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Politics 101: statutes versus regulations

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By Ann Miller

Besides the state Constitution, Maryland is governed by two types of rules: statutes and regulations.

Statutes are laws passed by our legislators in the Maryland General Assembly and listed in the Maryland Statutory Code. They are subject to all the steps known infamously to many of us in the Schoolhouse Rock song “How a bill becomes a law”, which include public hearings in both chambers, committee votes in both chambers, amendments, floor votes, and finally the governor’s signature or veto. It is this legislative process which allows for citizen input and representation into the decisions made by our state government. The Maryland General Assembly website also lays out a detailed explanation of the process here.

Regulations are rules and administrative codes issued and adopted by state governmental agencies and listed in COMAR (Code of Maryland Regulations). While they are not statutes, they have the force of law including violation penalties. In order for a department to adopt a regulation, the Maryland General Assembly must pass a statute that grants the department the authority to issue regulations relevant to the statute being passed. Beyond that, there is very little citizen input into the carte blanche regulatory process besides a department public input hearing and publication in the Maryland Register.

Once the authority to pass regulations is granted by the legislature to a department, the legislature has only one avenue in which to have input into the regulation. This very limited avenue is the AELR Committee (Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review). This committee of legislators, appointed annually by the Senate President and House Speaker, is composed of twenty members. The AELR Committee can placerequirements on regulation passage, such as requiring public hearings on emergency regulations and other measures.

Essentially, regulations take what is traditionally and constitutionally a legislative power (creating laws) and puts it in the hands of an administrative department within the Executive branch of government. It is a conjoining of powers intended “to be forever separate and distinct from each other” per Article 8 of the Declaration of Rights in the Maryland Constitution. Article 9 forbids any entity but the legislature from executing laws except with the permission of the legislature.

Code-making by means of agency regulation not only severely diminishes transparency and citizen input, but it virtually eliminates accountability. If an agency, staffed most often by gubernatorial appointees, not legislators elected by the citizens, passes a regulation that is unfavorable to the people, the electorate can’t fire them. Appointees serve at the pleasure of the appointor, and therefore does not answer to the people.

The carefree issuance of regulatory authority from the legislature to agencies also creates other problems. Rather than doing the hard work of laying out bill language to stipulate details within the law, legislators can pass those decisions on to the agencies. Sometimes it only makes sense, as those agencies are the experts in their area. But in doing so, it precludes the public from input into those details through the legislative process. Legislators can also use regulation to avoid making decisions on sensitive topics for which they don’t want to go on record. Moreover, bill sponsors can remove language from a bill which makes passage difficult and allow that language instead to be put in code through regulation after the bill passes.

The people need to be especially diligent in monitoring regulations. We need to ask our elected officials to be sparing in issuing carte blanche regulatory authority. Citizens must be familiar with the members of the AELR Committee, communicate concerns over regulations, and press them to provide adequate oversight. We should push for changes which will require departmental boards to be majority elected instead of appointed.

Until both the law and the state Constitution are changed with regard to agency regulatory authority, eternal vigilance is the only recourse.

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