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Quick News Updates – Read More

Second in Command at Dept. of Natural Resources Police Charged With Drunk Driving, Hit-And-Run

The deputy superintendent of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources police force resigned on Tuesday following his arrest on hit-and-run and drunk driving charges over the weekend.Lt. Col. Ernest J. Leatherbury Jr. was charged with driving under the influence, failure to remain at the scene of a property damage accident, negligent driving and unsafe backing after he reversed into another vehicle while stopped at a red light on Route 50 in West Ocean City on Saturday evening.Lauren Moses, a Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman, said that his resignation will go into effect immediately. Prior to this announcement, Moses told Maryland...

Gardiner Named Strong Schools Chief; Francaviglia Shifts to Lierman Campaign

The advocacy group Strong Schools Maryland announced Shamoyia Gardiner as the organization's new executive director on Monday.Gardiner joined Strong Schools Maryland as deputy director in August.She takes over from Joe Francaviglia, who is leaving the organization to become campaign manager for Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) during her run for state comptroller.Before coming to Strong Schools Maryland, Gardiner served as education policy director for Advocates for Children and Youth, a research analyst for Family League of Baltimore City and a secondary school science teacher.Strong Schools Maryland was a leading advocate in Annapolis for the Blueprint for Maryland's Future,...

Executive Director of Maryland Legal Services Announces Retirement

The executive director of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation announced her retirement from the agency Monday.Susan Erlichman, who has been with Maryland Legal Services for 32 years, will retire effective July 31."Susan Erlichman is a giant among all leaders of and other funding entities for civil legal services,” Natalie McSherry, chair of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation Board, said in a statement.The board of directors has stood up a search committee to look for Erlichman’s replacement.Maryland Legal Services is the largest funder of legal aid for low-income state residents involved in civil suits in the state. Erlichman served...

Legislative Women’s Caucus Elects New Officers

The Women's Caucus of the Maryland General Assembly elected new officers before the legislature adjourned last week.Del. Anne R. Healey (D-Prince George's), now serving her eighth term, is the new caucus president.According to a news release from the caucus, "strengthening relationships among women legislators is a priority for President Healey. As a bipartisan and bicameral organization, the Caucus brings together legislators who otherwise might not have the opportunity to get to know each other. Outreach to former women legislators is also planned for 2022."The rest of the leadership lineup:President-Elect: Del. Lauren C. Arikan (R-Harford and Baltimore)1st Vice President: Del....

Maryland Matters on the Air

Maryland Matters Editor Josh Kurtz joined a panel of journalists to discuss the just-completed General Assembly session on the high-octane "Baltimore Positive" podcast, which is generated by WNST Radio in Baltimore.Kurtz, Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood and Daily Record reporter Bryan P. Sears joined hosts Nestor Aparicio and Don Mohler for a conversation that touched on some of the top issues that the legislature confronted, veto overrides, the performance of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), the COVID-19 protocols in the State House, and more.Click here to listen to the podcast.

Chamber of Commerce Leader to Seek Montgomery Council Seat

Marilyn Balcombe, who ran one of the most consequential unsuccessful campaigns in the 30-plus candidate Democratic primary field for Montgomery County Council at-large in 2018, announced Thursday that she plans to try again in 2022. This time, she's running for the vacant council seat in the Upcounty's District 2, which Councilmember Craig Rice (D) must give up due to term limits.In an email to supporters, Balcombe, president and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, said a formal kickoff will be held via Zoom on May 2."With at least five new members coming to a newly expanded Council, we...

O’Malley Watch: EPA? Vatican? Trade Press Is Buzzing

Former Gov. Martin J. O'Malley (D) is being touted for a top job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a leading environmental publication reported Tuesday.But two other specialty news websites this week suggested O'Malley may be under consideration to become U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.E&E News scooped Tuesday that Maryland's two U.S. senators, Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D), along with Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D), wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan last month suggesting that O'Malley be hired as an adviser to lead the agency's Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts."The senators expressed...

Tenant Relief Efforts Fail on Sine Die

A proposal to provide low-income tenants access to legal representation in eviction cases received final approval from the General Assembly Monday – but a separate bill that would have provided funding for tenants’ counsel fell victim to the clock on the final day of session.If enacted, House Bill 18, sponsored by Del. Wanika T. Fisher (D-Prince George’s County), will require the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC), the state’s largest funder of civil legal aid, to help connect tenants with legal counsel in eviction cases.But the bill relied on House Bill 31, sponsored by Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City),...

In Series of Tweets, Johnny O Tries to Buy Time on Statewide Announcement

With the General Assembly session about to end, political candidates for state and local officeholders are about to come out of the woodwork.But one potential candidate for governor appears to be trying to cut off any questions about his plans for 2022 -- at least for now.In a series of tweets Sunday, which included a link to a Maryland Matters story (thanks!) about the potential race to replace him, Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. (D), who is touted as a possible candidate for governor, said he needs more time before deciding on a statewide bid."I am overwhelmed...

Former Md. U.S. Attorney Will Lead Workgroup on Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans

In the wake of increasing attacks on Asian Americans nationwide, Robert K. Hur, former top federal prosecutor for Maryland, will chair a statewide workgroup on hate crimes against Asian Americans, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) announced on Friday.The workgroup would be tasked to offer recommendations to mitigate bias incidents against Asians and to support victims and witnesses, Hogan said.Hate crimes against Asian Americans in Maryland have doubled since 2018, Hogan said. Nationwide, they increased by 149% between 2019 and 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.“Rob Hur is a strong...

Veteran Lobbyist Pat Roddy to Retire

Patrick H. Roddy, a veteran State House lobbyist and political professional who has been with the firm Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC since 2003, plans to retire at the end of next week.Roddy joined the firm’s Government Relations Division as a partner, representing an array of interests, after more than 20 years working for Baltimore County government, as its director of legislative affairs liaison and as an assistant county attorney.Prior to working for Baltimore County, Roddy was part of Gov. William Donald Schaefer’s legislative staff, and also served as chief of staff to then-Senate President Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg (D-Baltimore...

Franchot Lays Out 14 Campaign Pledges in ‘New Phase’ of Run for Governor

With the General Assembly session coming to an end and other potential Democratic candidates for governor in 2022 beginning to mobilize, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) on Thursday entered what he called "a new phase" in his gubernatorial campaign, releasing a set of 14 policy priorities. Called "The Franchot Pledges: A Bold Vision for Maryland’s Future," the document carries campaign promises in a variety of policy areas, including job creation, controlling health care costs, the transition to renewable energy, affordable paths to home ownership, and tackling the student debt crisis. "Together, they form a vision of competence and bold reform that...

Senate Panel Approves Amended Sports Betting Bill; Floor Vote Likely Thursday

The Senate Budget & Taxation Committee gave its unanimous approval on Wednesday to a rewrite of a House measure on sports gambling.House Bill 940 is expected to be on the Senate floor on Thursday morning.If approved, the two chambers would need to reconcile differences between the Senate version and the original, which cleared the House overwhelmingly almost a month ago.Amendments added by the Senate committee eliminate limits on the number of sports betting licenses the state can approve.The House bill capped the number of “bricks and mortar” licenses — those that would allow wagering on professional and college sports...

Report: Maryland Among Best States for 2020 Pandemic Response, But U.S. Ranked Low Globally

Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was among the best in the nation, according to a new report from University of California Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute.Based on rates of infection, death and testing, Maryland ranked 9th out of 50 states in its 2020 pandemic response, according to the Berkeley analysis. Vermont, Alaska and Maine topped the list in terms of their pandemic response.The lowest-ranking states included South Dakota, Iowa and Mississippi. State governments "which were more aggressive in issuing mask, shelter-in-place, and physical distancing rules fared better than the ones which did not," according to a...

General Assembly Passes Bill To Rename Maryland’s Top Court

The General Assembly has passed a bill to amend the Maryland Constitution and rename the state’s appellate courts.Voters will be able to approve or reject the change on the the ballot in the 2022 General Election.The bill — which passed the Maryland Senate 40-7 on Tuesday after passing the House of Delegates 125-10 last month — renames the Court of Appeals as the Supreme Court of Maryland and renames the Court of Special Appeals as the Appellate Court of Maryland.If affirmed by voters, the measure would also rename the chief judge of the Court of Appeals as the chief...

CDC Awards Maryland $54.6 Million to Boost Vaccine Distribution, Equity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced roughly $54.6 million to ramp up vaccine efforts in Maryland Tuesday as the state looks to expand eligibility.The CDC awarded Maryland $54,627,875 to expand vaccination programs statewide, according to a news release. State officials are required to send 75% to “programs and initiatives intended to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities,” the news release said.The state will also need to use 60% of the money to support local health departments, community-based organizations and community health centers, according to the CDC. That means state officials will...

With Most Restrictions Eased, Md. Casinos Had a Record Month

Maryland’s six casinos generated $169.2 million in gaming revenue in March, a record high and up 3.6% from March of 2019, when casinos produced the previous single month record.Maryland’s 50% capacity restriction for casinos was lifted March 12, with the exceptions of MGM National Harbor and Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino. MGM raised capacity from 25% to 50% on March 12, and Horseshoe Casino raised capacity from 25% to 50% on March 26. The remaining four casinos have no capacity limitations -- however, some slot machine and gaming table seats remain blocked off to comply with social-distancing guidelines.Maryland collected $71 million...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Maryland Matters Editor Josh Kurtz joined Greater Baltimore Committee President Don Fry for the latest episode of "GBC Insider," the short-take interviews that Fry does with newsmakers, analysts, reporters and other insiders. Their conversation is set to debut online on Monday.Fry asked Kurtz for a status report on some key pieces of legislation, including police reform and a measure to infuse Baltimore-area transit systems with hundreds of millions of dollars in needed capital improvements. They also discussed the latest record-breaking supplemental budget proposal, as well as the overall feel of the session, which has limited public access to the...

State’s First Black Sheriff Dies at 81

Joseph Lee Somerville, the first Black sheriff in St. Mary’s County as well as in Maryland, died on Thursday of undisclosed causes. He was 81.Somerville’s terms in office from 1977 to 1982 were historic, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office wrote in news release announcing his death. A native of Loveville, Somerville was also the county’s first Black sheriff’s deputy when he joined the force in 1966.In 1977, Somerville became both the first Black sheriff in St. Mary’s and in the state when he was appointed by then-Gov. Marvin Mandel (D) to fill a vacancy following the death of...

Sarbanes Emphasizes Election Reform in Meeting With Howard County Lawmakers

U.S. Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) touted his sweeping federal election overhaul to state legislators from Howard County in a Wednesday morning meeting, saying the proposed reforms are the “most requested anti-corruption legislation” ever passed by the House of Representatives.Sarbanes is the primary architect of the For the People Act, an omnibus proposal that would cut back on gerrymandering, expand absentee ballot access and modernize voter registration. Those are just a few of the slew of election reform efforts included in the legislation, which is currently in the Senate after passing the House in early March.Sarbanes told members of...