Monday’s Bill-Signing, Baltimore County’s Budget, Campaign Endorsements, & Phelps’ Return
Governor Martin O’Malley signed dozens of bills into law on Monday, including measures addressing distracted driving, marijuana, and domestic violence. Plus: campaign endorsements, Baltimore County’s budget, and Olympian Michael Phelps’ return to competitive swimming.
Monday’s Bill-Signing: A bill increasing penalties for distracted driving has been signed into law; it’s set to take effect in October. The Baltimore Sun reports that Governor Martin O'Malley yesterday signed the measure known as "Jake's Law," named after a five-year-old boy who was killed in 2011 when his family's car was rear-ended by a driver who was on his cell phone. Under the new law, drivers who cause serious crashes while texting or using a handheld phones face up to a year in jail. “Jake’s Law” was one of more than 100 bills that O’Malley signed into law yesterday. Another decriminalizes the possession small amounts of marijuana, removing criminal penalties in favor a civil citation for anyone possessing ten grams or less of marijuana. The new law takes effect in October. After signing it yesterday, O'Malley said the bill will make it easier for law enforcement to focus on higher priority crimes and drive down violence in Maryland. There’s more here from the Frederick News Post and here from the Washington Post. O’Malley yesterday also signed into law a bill that expands the state’s medical marijuana program… and a series of bills designed to help victims of domestic violence, and increase penalties on some offenders.
O’Malley To Speak In Nevada: Governor O’Malley has been scheduled to speak in Las Vegas next month, at the Clark County Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The Washington Post notes that Nevada is an early presidential nominating state, and Clark County is the largest jurisdiction in Nevada; O’Malley is considering a presidential bid in 2016. His May appearance follows a speech in Wisconsin over the weekend… and an address to California democrats in Los Angeles last month.
Kamenetz To Deliver State Of The County Speech: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will deliver his annual State of the County address this morning. During it, he’ll announce his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year – in which he’s expected to hold the line on taxes and announce his commitment to schools. County Executive Kamenetz, a Democrat, is for re-election this year. He’ll deliver his budget message at 10am, and it’ll be streamed live on the county’s website. You can access that stream here. And WYPR’s Kenneth Burns will have a wrap up of the speech this afternoon during All Things Considered.
The Mayor, the Money, and the Meeting: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and BUILD – one of the city’s largest community activist groups – are at odds over a pilot jobs program for ex-offenders in an East Baltimore neighborhood. BUILD asked the Mayor to help fund part of the program. She said no. And as WYPR’s Kenneth Burns reports, BUILD has now set a deadline for the Mayor to schedule a meeting with them… or else.
Baltimore Disclosure Forms Go Online: Baltimoreans now have a chance to peruse the financial disclosure forms of nearly 19-hundred city government officials – just by using their computers. The data itself was already public… but until now, residents had to come down to City Hall to see the disclosure documents. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake announced yesterday that those documents will now be available online; the Baltimore Sun reports that the move makes the city one of the first jurisdictions in the state to provide such access. However, in order to see the forms, residents will have to first visit city hall in person to verify their identifies and set up accounts.
Brown Proposes More Money For Affordable Housing Grant Program: Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown says he’ll push for a major increase in funding for a state-run affordable housing grant program – if voters pick him to be Maryland’s next governor. Brown tell the Washington Post that, if elected, he’ll earmark $20-million a year for the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust. That amounts to a 10-fold increase in funding for the program, which provides money for new housing developments. Brown would pay for the increase with corporate income taxes. Brown is facing five Democrats in the race for his party’s nomination, including state Attorney General Doug Gansler and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur.
“Equality Maryland” Endorses Frosh’s AG Bid: State Senator Brian Frosh’s bid to become the next state Attorney General picked up another endorsement yesterday – this time from the group “Equality Maryland.” In announcing their support, the group called Frosh a “firm ally” of Maryland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The Baltimore Sun reports that the group credited Frosh with helping to pass a bill banning discrimination against transgender people during this year’s General Assembly session. Frosh is vying for the Democratic nomination for attorney general with Delegates Jon Cardin and Aisha Braveboy. There’s more here from the Washington Post.
In AA County Executive’s Race, Ehrlich Backs Schuh; Bentley Backs Neuman: A pair of prominent Republicans have endorsed different candidates in the primary for Anne Arundel County Executive. The Annapolis Capital reports that former governor Bob Ehrlich yesterday renewed his call for Anne Arundel voters to support Delegate Steve Schuh for the county’s top job. Also yesterday, former 2nd District Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley endorsed the incumbent County Executive, Laura Neuman. Bentley says Neuman – who was appointed to the job last year – has a future in statewide politics; Ehrlich opposes Neuman’s bid, saying that she had no record as a “committed republican” before her appointment.
Another Strike Possible At Hopkins Hospital: Union service workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital are back on the job even though last week's strike failed to result in a new labor deal. Representatives of the workers say another strike could be in the cards if the hospital continues to fall short at the bargaining table. The union wants to see every worker making at least $14 an hour by the end of a four-year contract. The hospital's last offer was short of that figure and would cap annual raises at two-percent.
Phelps To Return To Competitive Swimming: Baltimore’s Michael Phelps is ending his retirement and will return to competitive swimming later this month. The Baltimore Sun reports that the 22-time Olympic medalist will compete for the first time since the 2012 London Games in an event in Mesa, Arizona, on April 24th. The 28-year-old is in the beginning stages of a comeback path that could take him to his fifth Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles triumphed over the Tampa Bay Rays last night; the score was 7 to 1. The O’s look to do it again when the two teams play again tonight; first pitch at Camden Yards is set for 7:05pm.