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General Assembly Could See First Black Republican Woman

The Washington County Republican Central Committee on Monday nominated educator Brenda Thiam to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates. If she is appointed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) as expected, Thiam will become the first Black Republican woman to serve in the House of Delegates -- and in the General Assembly.Thiam was nominated to fill the vacancy in District 2B, centered in Hagerstown, which had been held by Paul D. Corderman (R). He was appointed to the state Senate at the beginning of this month, filling a vacancy that opened when Sen. Andrew Serafini (R)...

Survey: Md. Ranked No. 8 in Union Strength

Maryland was ranked No. 8 in a recent nationwide survey on union strength.SmartAsset, a financial news website, rated all 50 states for the strength of their unions, using eight different metrics: number of union members, percentage of workers who are union members, four-year change in union membership, average annual wage for all occupations, average annual wage for middle school teachers, salary ratio of middle school teachers compared to all occupations, average wage for firefighters and salary ratio of firefighters compared to all occupations."We looked specifically at teachers and firefighters, because these two professions generally have the highest unionization rates,...

Former Top Chesapeake Bay Foundation Official Dies in Car Crash

Lisa Feldt, until recently an official at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation who has also held top positions with the Montgomery County government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, died Thursday in a car crash in Anne Arundel County. She was 60.Feldt was the CBF vice president for environmental protection and restoration until July. She spent two years with the green group."Last night, we learned the CBF family has unexpectedly lost a valued colleague and friend, Lisa Feldt, in a traffic accident. Lisa was deeply committed to the environment and the Bay. She will be missed. We are keeping her...

Biden Hires Two Staffers for Md. Campaign

The outcome of the presidential election in Maryland is hardly in doubt, but former vice president Joe Biden has hired two professional political operatives to staff the campaign here. Leathia West will serve as Maryland state director and Saif Ratul will serve as Maryland state organizing director, the campaign said. West has served as a regional field director for President Obama's campaign, so has already focused on get-out-the-vote operations for a presidential candidate in Maryland. She also headed up volunteer efforts in Prince George's County for Hillary Clinton's White House bid, and served as state grass-roots adviser for the coordinated Maryland...

Hogan Cuts Digital Ads for Embattled Maine Senator

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) has cut two digital ads for one of the most embattled U.S. senators on the ballot this fall, Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R).The ads are part of a $450,000 digital campaign that the Republican Jewish Coalition is running in support of Collins' reelection, according to Hogan's political action committee, An America United. The PAC cites a study from the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University earlier this year that showed Collins has been the senator most likely to work across party lines for the past seven years."Maine...

Md. Democratic Party: Single Early Voting Site in St. Mary’s Is ‘Extraordinary Obstacle’

Maryland Democratic Party officials condemned a decision to only have one early voting center in St. Mary’s County as “voter suppression” in a Friday statement, adding to mounting criticism of local election officials.Advocates have warned that St. Mary’s County’s sole early voting center will be difficult to access for residents of the diverse and densely populated southern area of the county. In a Friday statement, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis slammed local election officials for only opening one early voting center.“This is voter suppression, plain and simple,” Lewis and Del. Brian Crosby (D-St. Mary’s) said in a joint...

Hogan Staffer Fired for Social Media Posts Hires Attorney Representing Kenosha Shooter

The former Hogan administration official who was fired for posting social media memes supporting the teenager arrested for firing into a crowd of protesters in Kenosha, Wis., has retained the attorney who is representing the Kenosha shooter.In a statement released Thursday, supporters of Arthur "Mac" Love IV, the deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives who was fired Aug. 29, said Love has hired lawyer John Pierce and that Pierce has filed an administrative appeal with the state seeking to have Love reinstated.Pierce also is defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois who brought a semi-automatic rifle...

ICE Arrests Undocumented Immigrant on Montgomery Co. Church Grounds

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested an undocumented immigrant on the grounds of a Montgomery County church last week -- and immigrant rights groups are expressing their outrage.Federal agents found Binsar Siahaan, an undocumented Indonesian immigrant, at Glenmont United Methodist Church, where he worked as a caretaker -- but said they were only checking Siahaan’s ankle monitor from a prior detainment, according to the group Congregation Action Network.Once Siahaan stepped outside, however, ICE arrested and detained him in Baltimore. He is now in a detention center in Georgia, awaiting deportation.Immigrant rights groups and members of Maryland's congressional...

Businessman Who Bribed Ex-Delegate in Bid for Marijuana License Gets 18 Months

The Baltimore businessman who admitted to paying more than $40,000 in bribes to a disgraced Maryland lawmaker in an effort to land a medical marijuana license and bolster his other business interests was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday.Lance Andre Lucas will serve the prison term followed by three years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud and another charge and admitted to paying $42,500 to former Del. Cheryl Glenn (D), who resigned in December 2019, just before criminal charges came to light.Glenn, a once prominent lawmaker who had been a leader of...

New Gig for Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Md. Leader

Alison Prost is the new vice president for Environmental Protection and Restoration at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the organization announced this week.Prost has worked with CBF for more than 12 years, as the Maryland office attorney and, most recently, as the executive director of the Maryland office. She received her Environmental Law Certificate from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Anne Arundel County.“Alison Prost’s broad experience with local, state, and federal government agencies makes her an ideal choice to lead CBF’s policy, grassroots, and restoration programs,” CBF President William C. Baker said.“Alison understands the challenges the Chesapeake...

Hogan Weighs in on Hill Funding Fight in Meeting With Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus

Staying on brand, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) met Thursday with members of the bipartisan congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, An America United, his political action committee announced.During the virtual meeting, the governor praised the $1.5 trillion COVID-19 relief package that the caucus of Republican and Democratic moderates is proposing. House Democrats are currently seeking a $2.3 trillion spending package, while the Trump administration is proposing $1.3 trillion in emergency spending ― and the House and Senate Republican caucuses are even lower than that."I'm grateful for the caucus's efforts to reach a bipartisan compromise on much-needed COVID-19 relief," Hogan...

Employees Ask For A More Uniform COVID-19 Policy Across Md. Public Universities

A union representative said Maryland college workers are “really disappointed” by the lack of uniformity and transparency of state public universities’ COVID-19-related safety plans.Because of the lack of a standard COVID-19 policy across the University System of Maryland, union workers are left to battle the same fight, such as asking for mandatory testing, on each of USM’s 11 campuses, often leading to different results, Stuart Katzenberg, the director of collective bargaining and growth strategies of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers Council 3, told lawmakers in a Wednesday afternoon briefing.“An electrician at Frostburg shouldn’t be treated differently...

Liquor Industry Pushes Back on Tax Hike to Ease Health Disparities

Just as lawmakers are ramping up a proposal to raise the state's liquor tax to pay for programs designed to narrow health disparities in the state, the alcohol industry is pushing back.Leaders of seven industry organizations issued a statement Wednesday opposing the proposed legislation, which is set to be introduced in the 2021 General Assembly session. They timed the release of their statement with a video news conference from lawmakers, health professionals and advocates promoting the plan."While we support the use of State dollars to address health care disparities, we do not support raising the most regressive tax in...

Legislative Leaders Plan Maryland Environmental Service Reforms, Hearing

Leaders in the Maryland General Assembly will seek to reform the Maryland Environmental Service, which has come under scrutiny after making a large severance payment to a former director who then became the governor’s chief of staff.Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced Wednesday that they have tasked two lawmakers with drafting legislation to reform the quasi-governmental agency’s board and operations. Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City) will lead the effort in the Senate, along with Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery) in the House.The General Assembly’s Legislative Policy Committee will meet Sept....

Montgomery County to Consider Lower, Flat Fee for Retailers

Montgomery County may slash an annual inventory fee for businesses in an effort to help hard-hit retailers and restaurateurs in the midst of the pandemic. County Council Members Andrew Friedson (D) and Evan Glass (D) introduced a bill Tuesday that would establish a uniform trader’s license fee of $15 in the county. The license fee, now based on the average value of a business's inventory, can cost up to $800. Friedson said the average business usually pays between $150 and $350 for the fee. Establishing a uniform $15 fee won’t just save struggling businesses a few hundred dollars, he said, but...

Advocates, Environmental Groups Oppose Public Transportation Cuts in Baltimore Region

More than five dozen advocacy groups are calling on Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater and Maryland Transit Administrator Kevin Quinn to stop proposed cuts to bus and rail service in the Baltimore region next year.Due to the decline in ridership and revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTA proposed cuts that would halt 25 local bus routes and six MARC trains.Maryland Department of Transportation officials said they had to absorb nearly $3 billion in lost revenue.Forty percent of transit commuters in Baltimore City and 35% of transit riders in Maryland are essential job...

Anne Arundel Councilman Tests Positive for COVID: Read His Statement

Anne Arundel County Councilman Andrew Pruski (D) announced Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Pruski, a 41-year-old second-term lawmaker from Gambrills, released a statement about his condition and his plans to work remotely while he quarantines for two weeks.Here is his statement:"This past weekend I was informed by the Anne Arundel County Department of Health that I tested positive for COVID 19. Leading up to the test I was generally asymptomatic and was not feeling key symptoms. I am thankful that I chose to take a test out of the abundance of caution, so that I could...

New Leader Appointed for Universities at Shady Grove

Anne Khademian, a professor at Virginia Tech, will join University System of Maryland as the new executive director of Universities at Shady Grove, a campus in Montgomery County that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs from a dozen Maryland universities -- nine within the University System of Maryland. She will also become USM Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Khademian will replace Stewart Edelstein, who has been executive director of USG since 2002 and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs since 2007. He will stay in his current positions with USG until Khademian takes over on Oct. 19.“Dr. Khademian brings...

Richard DeShay Elliott to Run for House of Delegates

With less than eight weeks before the 2020 election, candidates are beginning to emerge for 2022.Richard DeShay Elliott, a progressive activist and strategist who was a leader in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Maryland campaign and has worked for a host of other candidates in recent years, announced Thursday that he plans to run for a House of Delegates seat, in Prince George's County's 24th District.Elliott, who has written a few provocative commentaries for Maryland Matters, often attacking the Democratic establishment, says he'll offer voters a bold agenda."Overcrowded schools. Long commutes and endless traffic. Inefficient and costly mass transit. A...

Home-Grown 3rd Party Candidate Pledges to Exit Race if Biden Falters in Md.

Maryland's home-grown third party presidential candidate, Jerome M. Segal, has written to 1 million Maryland voters, assuring them he'll drop out of the White House election if Democratic nominee Joe Biden's lead over President Donald Trump falls to less than 10 points in state polls.Segal, a retired University of Maryland lecturer, is the standard bearer of the Bread and Roses Party, which he established and stood up over the past year after unsuccessfully challenging U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin in the 2018 Democratic primary. He's one of three third-party presidential candidates who will appear on Maryland's ballot this fall....