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Quick News Updates – The Blog

Apartment and Office Building Association Gets New State House Lobbyist

The Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington announced Wednesday that Erin Michelle Bradley is joining its regional advocacy team. She’ll become vice president of Government Affairs, Maryland, succeeding Ronald Wineholt, who is retiring after a long career monitoring and working for state government.Bradley will represent commercial and residential multi-family members’ interests before the Prince George’s County government as well as the State of Maryland, working closely with AOBA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Nicola Whiteman. The association maintains full-time lobbyists with Washington, D.C., and Virginia portfolios as well.Until recently, Bradley served as vice president of Government...

New House Speaker Starting to Make the Rounds

The friends, neighbors and political supporters of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) are celebrating her ascension to the top job on Wednesday night in her home territory.The free cocktail reception is taking place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Martin’s West Baltimore, the giant event hall in Windsor Mill, just south of the Baltimore Beltway.The organizers advise that they’ve already given away all the available tickets.Jones was on Capitol Hill Tuesday. She got a special shout-out from that other speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a celebration in Statuary Hall marking the 100th anniversary of the...

Report: Extreme Rainfall Hurt Chesapeake Bay Health

Another day, another report card on the health of the Chesapeake Bay.The latest, released Tuesday, is from the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science, graded the Bay’s overall health as a C. The report found that heavy rainfall in 2018 negatively impacted the score – even though the Bay’s long-term health trend is improving.“While 2018 was a difficult year for Chesapeake health due to high rainfall, we are seeing trends that the Bay is still significantly improving over time. This is encouraging because the Bay is showing resilience to climate change,” said Bill Dennison, vice president for Science...

Not the Same Old Storey for National Legislative Group

And you thought state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) has had a long tenure: The National Conference of State Legislatures, which provides the Maryland General Assembly with a lot of help year after year – from issue research to guidance on best practices to political intelligence – is getting its first new executive director in 42 years.The NCSL announced last week that Tim Storey, a longtime staffer at the organization, has been tapped to replace William Pound following a nationwide search. When he steps down in mid-July, Pound will have led NCSL for 42 years.“Tim is...

Montgomery Co. Council Whittles Down Extensive List of Planning Board Applicants

Having received almost two dozen applications for two vacancies on the Planning Board, the Montgomery County Council has narrowed the field to seven candidates and is planning to interview the contenders on June 11 and 13.One of the candidates, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, is seeking a third term leading the planning agency, and is expected to be successful – though nothing is for certain.The other vacant position was held by Norman Dreyfuss, who will complete his second and final term next month (Planning Board chairs are eligible for three terms, while rank and file members can serve two...

Abortion Rights Advocates Schedule Half a Dozen Rallies in Md. Tuesday

Pro-choice groups and their allies have scheduled a national day of action Tuesday to show support for reproductive rights. There will be gatherings in at least six Maryland cities, with the possibility of others being added at the last minute, in response to the harsh anti-abortion laws passed recently in Alabama and in other states.Rallies will be held at noon in Towson, at Patriot’s Plaza, 401 Bosley Ave.; and in Ocean City, at 162 Sunshine Lane.6 p.m. rallies have been scheduled for 100 Holliday St. in Baltimore; 34 Calvert St. in Annapolis; 12 E. Church St. in Frederick; and...

Three Days in June: A Chance to Check Out Would-be Senate Presidents

In the nascent, we can't really talk about it yet race to replace Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who is battling stage 4 prostate cancer, there are at least half a dozen hypothetical candidates. Maybe more.On three consecutive days in June, three (or four) of these potential contenders are holding events of one kind or another, including fundraisers. In other words, it's a chance to check out these potential leaders in a less formal setting than you usually find them in Annapolis -- and, quite possibly, to measure their political strength. Who will show up to...

U.S. House Passes LGBTQ Rights Bill Despite GOP Opposition

U.S. House lawmakers on Friday voted to approve sweeping legislation aimed at barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in spite of broad opposition from House Republicans.In a major victory for LGBTQ rights advocates, the House approved the bill, dubbed the Equality Act, by a vote of 236-173, including eight Republican votes.The measure would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act by explicitly banning discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.House Democrats celebrated the bill’s passage as a landmark achievement by Congress.Rep. Bobby...

Ex-Montgomery Co. Exec Candidate Blair Launches Think Tank

David Blair, the wealthy Montgomery County businessman and novice candidate whose self-funded campaign fell a few dozen votes short in last year’s Democratic primary for county executive, announced Thursday that he and his wife have launched a nonprofit think tank to focus on state and local issues.The think tank is part of Blair’s effort to remain politically active and visible in the county and – while he isn’t saying so – keep his options open for future elections.In a news release, Blair and his wife Mikel said the new think tank, the Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions (CAPS),...

Campaign Donations Can Now Cover Some Child Care, Cybersecurity Expenses

Changing times mean a change to the types of expenses Maryland political candidates will be able to pay with campaign donations.The Maryland State Board of Elections issued new guidance Thursday, setting expectations for candidate expenses on child care and cybersecurity.With a legislature that has trended more female, more diverse and younger in recent years, Jared DeMarinis, director of the Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division, said the changes were driven by questions from candidates and members of the General Assembly.A year ago, in May 2018, the Federal Election Commission ruled that congressional candidates can use campaign accounts for child care...

Senate Dems Launch Petition Drive to Pressure Hogan on Renewable Energy Bill

Maryland Senate Democrats launched an online petition drive Thursday calling on Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) to sign the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It’s the latest attempt by advocates for the bill to pressure Hogan into signing it.The petitions were launched on the Senate Democrats’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery) shifts Maryland’s renewable energy goals for electric utilities from 25 percent renewable energy usage to 50 percent by 2030. It also requires a study of how to reach a 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2040.“Climate change poses a unique threat to Maryland’s...

Young Creating ‘Office of Children & Family Success’ in City Government

New Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) said Thursday that he is creating a new office within city government to focus on children and families. The office will be headed by a veteran and well-known educator who was a top aide to his predecessor, former mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D).Young announced that the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success will come into existence on July 1, the start of the city’s new fiscal year. According to a news release from the city, the office will “cultivate partnerships, develop policies and identify innovative opportunities to support young people...

Mohler Honored by Greater Baltimore Committee

Former Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, who took the helm of county government after the unexpected death of Kevin Kamenetz last year, was honored by the Greater Baltimore Committee at its annual dinner Monday night.“Though he had never held elected office, Mohler took the helm with dignity and brought immediate stability to county government,” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the committee, as he presented Mohler with the Walter Sondheim Public Service Award.“It’s a bittersweet moment standing here tonight because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. My friend Kevin Kamenetz by now was either supposed to...

Maryland Moves Up in Best State Ranking, From 13th to 6th

Maryland is again among the top states in the nation, according to a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report.The state now ranks sixth overall in the magazine’s mash-up of various factors, up nicely from a year ago, when it came in 13th.Maryland’s high ranking was boosted by its standing as a place where people find “opportunity” (fifth best in the nation) and for its health care, where the state was judged to be eighth best.U.S. News placed Maryland 13th in education, 15th in fiscal stability, 21st in infrastructure, 22nd in crime and corrections, 25th in natural environment...

Lobbyist Julia Pitcher Worcester to Take PhRMA Gig

Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America – better known as PhRMA – has tapped Annapolis contract lobbyist Julia Pitcher Worcester to be its director of state policy and advocacy in Maryland.It’s a new position – and an acknowledgement by the giant lobbying group that Maryland is increasingly becoming a hotbed for legislation impacting the prescription drug industry.Worcester and her father, J. William Pitcher, have already worked for PhRMA as contract lobbyists – one of a dozen lobbyists that the organization used during this year’s General Assembly session, according to Maryland State Ethics Commission filings.PhRMA also used five lobbyists from...

A. Jones on WAMU: ‘I Think Speaker Busch Would Have Been Very Pleased With...

New House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) has kept a fairly low profile since being elected on May 1, as she learns the details of the job and ponders the future. But she did call into “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU for a couple of minutes on Friday.Jones minimized any suggestions that fissures remain within the Democratic caucus following the fight to succeed the late Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who died on April 8.“It was a whirlwind day – I think about four or five hours till the final outcome,” she said about the deadlocked...

New Baltimore Mayor Taps Insiders for Executive Team

Baltimore’s new mayor, Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D), announced his executive team Friday afternoon. Some worked for his predecessor, former mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), who resigned last week, and some worked for Young during his time as City Council president.Kim Morton will serve as chief of staff, Carolyn Mozell will serve as deputy chief of staff for Neighborhood and Economic Development, Pete Hammen will serve as deputy chief of staff for Human Services, Sheryl Goldstein will serve as deputy chief of staff for Operations and Geri Byrd will serve as deputy chief of staff for Administration and External...

Rate of Opioid Deaths Slowing Overall, But Fentanyl Deaths Surged in 2018

The number of overdose deaths in Maryland increased by 5 percent last year – driven by an increase in the number of deaths from the powerful drug fentanyl.There were 2,385 unintentional intoxication deaths in 2018, nearly 90 percent of them, 2,110, opioid-related.The number of deaths from heroin and prescription opioids declined in 2018, by 24 percent and 10 percent respectively. There were 370 prescription opioid-related deaths in the state.But the number of fentanyl-related deaths increased by 17 percent to 1,870. Fentanyl and its analogs accounted for approximately 88 percent of opioid-related fatalities in 2018 and 89 percent of deaths...

Montgomery Council Wants Park Agency to Resist State Highway Plans

The Montgomery County Council has asked the agency that controls most parkland in the Washington, D.C., suburbs not to cooperate with the state's plans to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 unless the Maryland Department of Transportation completes additional reviews of the project.The request was made in a letter signed by all nine Council members to Casey Anderson, vice chair of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Councilmember Tom Hucker (D) wrote the note and circulated it among his colleagues for their signatures.The letter, obtained by Maryland Matters on Thursday, comes amid...

Raskin: Trump ‘Declares Himself Above and Beyond the Law’

After a full day of partisan sniping on Capitol Hill, the House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, escalating the war between the Trump administration and House Democrats.The committee voted 24-16 along party lines to approve a resolution recommending that the full U.S. House find Barr in contempt for his refusal to comply with a committee subpoena seeking an unredacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.The vote came after President Trump asserted executive privilege over the report, further infuriating the House Democratic...