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Eastern Shore Police Chief Gets Suspended 2-Year Sentence for Falsifying Cop’s Hiring Papers

A former Eastern Shore police chief received a two-year suspended prison sentence and three years' of supervised probation in Caroline County Circuit Court Friday for falsifying hiring documents for an expelled Dover, Del., police officer who became embroiled in the officer-involved death investigation of Anton Black.The Office of the State Prosecutor charged former Greensboro Police chief Michael Petyo in November with misconduct in office for making “several” factual misrepresentations in an application for police certification, which he filed on behalf of Thomas Webster IV.Petyo was expected to plead guilty Friday as part of a plea agreement by the state,...

Poll: Cardin, Van Hollen Viewed Favorably — But Not in Hogan Territory

Maryland, it's said, is a state of middle temperament. And that's more or less reflected in a poll on how Maryland voters view their U.S. senators: favorably, but without exuberance.The political website Morning Consult surveyed 5,000 voters a day in all 50 states over the last quarter of 2019 to get their views on several issues and political leaders.The poll of Marylanders found that U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) is viewed favorably by 49% of voters and unfavorably by 23%. Another 28% answered "don't know."Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) had a 46% favorable rating and a 22% unfavorable...

Exec Director at Md. Democratic Party Steps Down

Ben Smith, who served as executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party since December of 2018, has resigned. Yvette Lewis, who took over as party chair several weeks ago, told Democratic leaders of Smith's decision in an email Thursday obtained by Maryland Matters. Lewis said she was "grateful" for Smith's service, but offered no details about his departure. "As Democrats, we are in the middle of a season of change," she wrote. "I am deeply committed to seeing us through the transitions and challenges that lie ahead. I believe that when this journey is over -- together we will put a Democrat...

Frosh Sues to Stop Trump Rule Cutting Back on Food Stamps

Maryland on Thursday joined a multi-state lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from eliminating food assistance for nearly 700,000 Americans.The lawsuit challenges a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would limit states’ ability to extend benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as “food stamps,” beyond a three-month period for certain adults.The coalition of attorneys general asserts that the rule directly undermines Congress’ intent for SNAP, and that the USDA violated the federal rulemaking process. They also argue that the rule would harm states’ residents and their economies.The AG's are urging the court to declare...

Baltimore Creates Office of Equity and Civil Rights

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) announced  Wednesday that he was creating the Office of Equity and Civil Rights in city government to root out discrimination and ensure equity in city policy.The announcement came on what would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 91st birthday.“This new office will allow me a single portal to monitor and address equity issues, in both the public and private sectors, and reflects my priority to create a more equitable city and a more equitable city government that puts the residents of Baltimore first,” Young said in a statement.Young, who became...

An Apology from Maryland Matters

Earlier this week, Maryland Matters ran an ill-advised headline and used the same offensive phrase in an article about portraits of two iconic state senators newly on display in the Senate chamber.I wrote the headline and the article.It wasn't my intention to offend anyone, but that's clearly what happened. I apologize profusely.

Va. Also Eyeing Suit Against Pa. to Protect Chesapeake Bay

By Sarah VogelsongVirginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D) is weighing legal action against Pennsylvania over its Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, which falls short of the state’s commitments to reduce pollutants that make it into the bay.Last week, Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced he was directing Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to pursue an action against both Pennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has broad authority over the decades-long effort.“It’s clear the Trump EPA must do more to ensure accountability across all watershed states,” said Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky in an email. “Our administration...

Candidate Who Sought Dist. 45 Appointment to Consult With Attorney on Controversial Vote

Caylin Young, who sought an appointment to the House of Delegates this week but placed second behind Chanel Branch in a controversial central committee vote to fill a seat left vacant by former Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore City), will seek legal advice Wednesday to determine the best way to challenge the results."I am going to be consulting with my lawyers today," Young, an aide to Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D) told Maryland Matters Wednesday morning.Arinze Ifekauche, a spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, said Wednesday the state party would not intervene with the results of the...

Poll Shows Wide Open Race in Mayoral Primary

An independent poll released Tuesday shows a wide open race in the Democratic primary for mayor of Baltimore.Former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah topped the field ever so slightly, with just over 18% of the vote -- but four candidates were within the poll's large 6-point margin of error, and others appeared to be within striking distance.One thing was abundantly clear: Crime was far and away the voters' No. 1 concern heading into the April 28 primary, with 65% of poll respondents citing the violence wracking the city as their top issue as they consider the candidates. That may be boosting Vignarajah,...

With Economic Uncertainty, Analyst Suggests Savings and Recovery Planning

Maryland lawmakers should consider limiting recurring spending and investing in programs to aid in an economic recovery, an economist said Tuesday.Dan White, director of government consulting and public finance research at Moody’s Analytics, told the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that a recession is likely during the 2021 fiscal year that lawmakers are currently budgeting for.“There is still an uncomfortably high risk that we’ll have an economic slowdown if not a full-blown recession by the end of this fiscal year that you are budgeting for,” White told the committee. “…It’s not definite, but it would certainly be extraordinary if...

Matory Racks Up Endorsements from Sauerbrey, Lawmakers in 7th District Primary

Is attorney and conservative activist Liz Matory, who has run for Congress three different times in three different districts over the last three election cycles, the Republican establishment choice in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)?Matory, one of seven Republicans competing in the Feb. 4 special GOP primary, rolled out a set of endorsements Tuesday from elected officials and two-time GOP gubernatorial nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a conservative icon."I usually do not endorse before primaries, but this election is too important not to officially support our great candidate, Liz Matory," said Del....

State House Discrimination Complaints Decreased in 2019

Reports of discrimination in the State House complex were down last year, according to an annual report reviewed by lawmakers on Friday.There were six complaints of discrimination, including four by lawmakers in 2019, according to an aggregate report reviewed by the Legislative Policy Committee on Friday. One of the complaints against a lawmaker was for sexual harassment, one involved a complaint about working conditions, and two were for discrimination other than sexual harassment.The report does not identify the lawmakers who were the source of complaints, and one lawmaker could be responsible for more than one complaint, said Lori Mathis,...

Board Deals State a Blow in Baltimore Lease Dispute

This story has been updated to reflect an uncertain hearing date and to note that the state Board of Public Works is under no legal obligation to reverse its decision.One day after a divided Board of Public Works voted to sign a controversial 10-year contract to keep the Maryland Insurance Administration at its downtown Baltimore headquarters, the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals issued a decision that could invalidate that lease.The decision came down in a complicated battle over where the insurance agency should be housed for the next decade -- which led to a tense 90-minute hearing in...

New Senate Chairmen Promise Streamlining, Other Reforms

The two new leaders of state Senate committees convened their first hearings Thursday, pledging to reform and streamline the legislative process. Before their first bill hearing of the session, members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee held an organizational meeting Thursday afternoon to settle start-of-session housekeeping matters -- most notably, the introduction of new faces, like Sen. Charles E. Sydnor III (D-Baltimore County) and veteran members filling new positions. Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery), with one year as vice chairman and four years on the committee under his belt, replaced former Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) as the chairman. Zirkin,...

Bill on Extra Early Voting Site for Montgomery Co. Advances

State lawmakers from Montgomery County moved one step closer Thursday to achieving their goal of setting up a 12th early voting center in the county -- in a racially-diverse neighborhood where Montgomery leaders believe voters have had inadequate access to pre-election polling places.The Montgomery County House delegation's Education, Elections and Housing Committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill by Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D) that would set up a 12th early voting center in the White Oak neighborhood of Silver Spring. The vote came after a short discussion."That was easy," said Del. Pamela Queen (D), chairwoman of...

Rep. Brown Backs Fellow Vet Buttigieg for President

U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) on Thursday became the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg for president -- and just the second Democratic member of the state's congressional delegation to formally pick sides in the White House race. The campaign said that Brown, a military veteran like Buttigieg, will become the campaign's first national co-chairman. "Our country needs a president who can heal our divides and restore decency to our nation's highest office," Brown said in a statement. "Pete's message is not defined by exclusion but welcomes everyone into the...

Campaign Finance Reports to Show Big Haul for New Speaker

Whenever new presiding officers take over in the House of Delegates and state Senate, one of the big unknowns is whether they can match the fundraising firepower of their formidable predecessors.House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) appears to have answered the question in the affirmative.When annual fundraising reports are filed at the State Board of Elections next week, Jones will report raising about $875,000 from the time she became speaker on May 1  through early this year -- $735,000 for her own campaign account and $140,000 for the House Democratic Caucus.Cash on hand totals for the two campaign...

Legislative Black Caucus Lays Out Priorities for 2020 Session

Economic and criminal justice, education and health care are among the top priorities of the Legislative Black Caucus for the burgeoning 2020 session.During a Wednesday morning news conference, Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), the LBC chairman, opened with an acknowledgment of the historical significance of the day: the first House session to be led by Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), who took over on May 1.“For the first time ever in 441 sessions, we have our first African American woman -- first African American person -- to be the speaker of the House,” said Barnes. “We are excited...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Catch Maryland Matters Editor Josh Kurtz discussing the General Assembly session on WYPR's "Midday" with Tom Hall Thursday around 12:15 p.m. Rachel Baye, the radio station's State House reporter, will also be a panelist.WYPR is at 88.1 on the FM dial in the Baltimore area and the Frederick area, and at 106.9 on the Eastern Shore. The program also streams live on WYPR.org. 

Law Prof Airs First Paid Ad of Special Election to Replace Cummings

Michael Higginbotham, one of 32 candidates seeking to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), is the first to begin airing a paid campaign ad ahead of the Feb. 4 special primaries.Higginbotham, a University of Baltimore Law School professor, is airing an 80-second biographical spot on several digital platforms and plans to use it on TV in the near future. The campaign said it has made "a six-figure buy" on digital so far.The ad, produced by a Washington, D.C., media firm, 76 Words, features artistically-shot footage of Baltimore -- including Higginbotham jogging through several recognizable neighborhoods."When Donald...