Is Kamenetz Trying to Rig the Western Maryland Straw Poll?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As we have previously written, the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a summit event in Flintstone at the end of this month.  The event will include a straw poll held on Saturday the 29th.  And one prospective candidate is REALLY interested in making sure that event is well attended: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is running for Governor.

The following email was sent out by the Baltimore County Young Democrats (BCYD) soliciting attendance for the summit.

The contact in the email is Henry Callegary, Secretary of BCYD.  We asked for confirmation and comment from both the County Executive’s office and the three BCYD officers.  None of them responded before publication time, but if they do get back to us, we will print what they say.

We will be interested to see what the other campaigns make of this.  But in the meantime, if you are one of these straw voters, go ahead and rent the best wet-bar and Jacuzzi mega-suites Western Maryland has to offer!  It’s not like you’re paying for them, yeah?

Should You Take Public Campaign Financing? Part Three

By Adam Pagnucco.

In Part Two, we explored some reasons why a candidate may want to enter public financing.  Today we will look at some factors that would argue for staying out.

Reasons to Stay Out

  1. You Already Have Money

In January 2014, then-District 20 Delegate Tom Hucker had a war chest of $146,905.  He had accumulated it by raising money continuously and not having serious challengers since he was first elected in 2006.  Hucker, whose progressive credentials are beyond question and who had sponsored public financing legislation while in Annapolis, would have been crazy to enter public financing for his Council District 5 race had it been available.  He would have had his war chest frozen and would have had to start from zero while facing a strong opponent in Evan Glass.  Even with his starting balance, Hucker won by just 222 votes.

Other state legislators who are thinking of running for council this time are in the same situation as Hucker.  For them, getting into public financing means walking away from significant war chests and participating in a system that is brand new and might have some implementation hiccups.  Self-funding candidates are in a similar place.  It would be understandable for these folks to stay out.

  1. You are Unknown

Complete unknowns rarely win.  Our voters usually expect county-level candidates to have some record in the community before supporting them.  But this is compounded in public financing, which requires participants to hit the in-county thresholds below before distributing public funds.  This will be tough for many unknown candidates.

Even fairly well-known candidates could struggle to qualify for matching funds.  Over the last three cycles, candidates who would not have hit the match thresholds include Mike Subin, Bo Newsome, Hugh Bailey, Sharon Dooley and Bob Dorsey (2006), Nancy Navarro (2008), Duchy Trachtenberg and Royce Hanson (2010) and Duchy Trachtenberg, Vivian Malloy, Ryan Spiegel, Chris Barclay and Terrill North (2014).  Ben Kramer would not have qualified in 2009, but he is primarily a self-funder.  Note that this list includes two incumbents, two school board members, two City Council Members, a state legislator and a Planning Board Chair.  If you are less known than these folks, you could have a hard time in public financing.

  1. You Have Lots of Supporters Outside the County

Most new candidates tap their families, friends and professional associates for start-up funds.  If you’re a MoCo native and have worked in the local area for a while, chances are that you will start with a fair number of in-county contributors.  That’s a good thing for qualifying for matching funds.  But if you come from outside the area and got here recently, that’s a problem.  Your parents and childhood friends in California, your fraternity brothers on the coasts and your former co-workers in New York and Boston can all give you $150 contributions, but none of that will count towards the qualifying thresholds.

  1. You are Running Against an Incumbent

If you are challenging an incumbent in a one-seat race and you enter public financing, you are almost guaranteeing that the incumbent will outraise you.  If the incumbent stays in the traditional system, he or she will clobber you with corporate and PAC money.  If the incumbent also enters public financing and has done even a halfway decent job of constituent service, the incumbent will have more in-county contributors than you and therefore more money.  Either way, you lose.

  1. You Have Connections to the Business Community

If you have a professional background in the business community – especially in development, real estate and/or construction – the progressive left is going to target you.  Individual activists, left-wing groups and maybe even some opponents will label you as “pro-business,” a Democrat in Name Only (DINO) or worst of all, a “tool of the developers.”  It’s debatable whether enrolling in public financing will tamp down such criticism, but it will certainly cut you off from your financial base.  You might be better off sticking with the traditional fundraising system, tolerating attacks from people who won’t vote for you anyway and running a well-financed campaign targeting those voters who don’t care much about the issue.

There you have it, folks.  If you are running for county office, public financing might be a good way to go.  Or maybe not.  It’s all about you and your race.  The decision is yours.

Hogan Smears Federal Judge to Hide State’s Lack of Transparency

Spreading Lies

Larry Hogan joined in the attacks of the most extreme Purple Line supporters in accusing U.S. District Court Judge Robert Leon of being conflicted in the case.  As Bethesda Beat reported:

Hogan, who discussed the project with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during a meeting last month, said the $900 million can’t be “shaken loose” because of Leon’s alleged conflicts.

“Secretary Chao can’t do anything about a judge whose wife happens to be involved in an opponent group and who has a conflict of interest who’s making a decision to hold this up,” Hogan said.

However, there is no real evidence of the claim that Judge Leon’s wife is involved beyond her membership in a citizens association that has opposed the project:

Christine Leon, the judge’s wife, has been a block captain for Andover Road for the Brookdale Citizens Association since at least 2005, according to documents posted on the associations’ website. The association is part of the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, which testified against the Purple Line in 2008 during a public hearing hosted by the state and submitted written testimony on stationery that noted the group was “representing the Citizens Associations of Brookdale, Chevy Chase Village” and other nearby communities. There’s no evidence that Christine Leon personally lobbied against the project.

One can only imagine the cries of sexism that would have emerged from Purple Line Now if the judge had ruled the other way and Purple Line opponents accused him of a conflict. Hogan went to spread a bizarre outright lie:

“But even with federal funding, we can’t move forward because of a judge who lives at a Chevy Chase country club,” Hogan noted.

Leon’s house is actually about 3 miles from Columbia Country Club in the Brookdale neighborhood of Chevy Chase.

Of course, Greater Greater Washington joined in the smear.

Lack of Transparency or Responsiveness

If the State thought there was a real conflict, they would have brought it up before the case was heard. As it stands, these sour grapes look designed to cover up the State’s total lack of transparency or responsiveness regarding the question of ridership raised in the judge’s decision.

Specifically, the judge wanted to know how the steady decline in Metro’s ridership will impact estimated ridership on the Purple Line. As is well known, Metro ridership has been affected by its chronic problems along with the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft as well as telecommuting.

The State’s response to the judge’s concern was not to present any analysis but instead to thumb its nose at the court and declare such an analysis unnecessary. The claim of the unimportance of transfers directly contradicts the State’s own website, which highlights as a major benefit that the light rail “Connects to Metrorail Green and Orange lines and both branches of the Red Line.” Oops.

The State’s failure to respond to Judge Leon is a continuation of its total lack of transparency on how the ridership figures were calculated. MTA has consistently refused to divulge critical information about how the ridership numbers were calculated by Parsons Brinckerhoff. Call it a faith-based initiative.

Frankly, I have little expertise as to the legal or substantive merits of judge’s decision. I’m not a lawyer let alone an expert in environmental law. Nor do I know Judge Leon or anything about his record. But leaving legal questions entirely aside, why is the State so desperate that it must demean the court? Why has the State stonewalled and hidden the critical ridership analysis? If the Purple Line is so great, why not reveal all?

Why the secrecy?

House of Delegates Ratings, Part IV: Likely GOP Seats

After a long hiatus, 7S is resuming its rating of legislative races for the 2018 election. Previous posts covered Safe Democratic, Safe Republican, and Lean Republican seats.

All four Likely Republican seats are outside shots for the Democrats. But if the anti-Trump whirlwind hits Maryland in 2018 and sweeps away Republicans, here is where it is likely to strike. Democrats need strong candidates here in order to be prepared to take advantage and to put the Republican on defense.

William Folden

Del. Folden won election in 2014 from District 3B, a singleton subdistrict of fiercely contested Frederick County D3. More Republican than 3A, Hogan carried 3B by 28 points in 2014 and Trump beat Clinton by 6 in 2016.

However, Folden’s 56% victory margin lagged far behind the more popular Hogan. While Hogan will undoubtedly carry this area again, the question remains of by how much. Frederick continues to trend Democratic, which doesn’t help Folden either.

Democrats were demoralized and did badly in the 2014 midterm election but the reverse situation could be Folden’s undoing. One can well imagine a scenario in which Trump continues to perform below expectations, weakening Republican support and turnout in contrast to angry Democrats.

Notice that the same swing needed for Clinton to have won the district in 2016 would also ejected Folden in 2014.

Joe Cluster and Christian Miele

Del. Joe Cluster was appointed in 2016 to fill the seat won by his father, John Cluster. Del. Christian Miele was newly elected to the House in 2014. Miele and John Cluster won that election in Baltimore County’s District 8 with the equivalent of around 58% of the vote.

Unusually, they share their three delegate district with a Democrat, Del. Eric Bromwell, who is also the son of a former legislator. Bromwell trailed his Republican seatmates with the equivalent of just 50.1%–about 5% ahead of the third Republican–in an area of Baltimore County that has been seen as moving Republican.

Bromwell’s shaky hold despite his long experience in the House combined with Hogan’s 36 point victory ought to indicate that the Republicans should be fine. But Trump lost the district by 1% to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and notice that the Republicans significantly underperformed compared to Hogan.

While Hogan is on the ballot, Trump is now President. Instead of riding an anti-Democratic wave, Cluster and Miele will have to contend with anti-Trump sentiment. Candidates in both parties always have to run hard here. Though well positioned, Cluster and Miele will likely have to run harder in 2018, as this is the sort of  territory in which Trump’s unpopularity upset the increasing comfort felt by Republicans.

Glen Glass

Like Cluster and Miele, second-term Harford Del. Glen Glass holds one of the rare multimember districts split between the two parties. In 2014, he won with 57%, ahead of the 53% won by newcomer Democratic Del. Mary Ann Lisanti and the 48% gained by his losing Republican ticket mate.

Harford County has been a growing Republican suburb but Democrats have nonetheless managed to retain a foothold in two-member District 34A. Before Lisanti, Mary Dulany James did well in delegate elections despite losing the senatorial election in larger D34 in 2014.

Like Baltimore County’s D8, D34A went for Hogan in 2014 but then narrowly for Clinton in 2016. But this subdistrict is less strongly Republican. Hogan won by 28 and Clinton won by 2. The anti-Democratic winds blowing in 2014 that undermined Del. James’ senate bid won’t be blowing in 2018.

Glass remains the favorite but, like D8, this is one of those districts that candidates from neither party can take for granted. If voters in Maryland’s outer suburbs turn on Republicans in a backlash against Trump, his reelection fight could be much tougher than anticipated, particularly if the Democrats find a good candidate.

 

Should You Take Public Campaign Financing? Part Two

  1. By Adam Pagnucco.

There are a number of factors that argue either for entering the county’s public financing system or staying out.  Let’s list the things that might cause candidates to get in first.

Reasons to Get In

  1. You Won’t Take Corporate or Developer Money

If you don’t want to take corporate or developer money, public financing can be a great way to replace those funds with taxpayer money.  Your author ran a series of simulations of what county candidates would have raised in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 cycles if public financing had been available.  The huge majority of candidates would have raised less money with public financing than what they actually raised through the traditional system, but there were two big exceptions.  Phil Andrews would have more than doubled his take in his 2006 council race and his 2014 Executive race if he had had access to public funds.  And Marc Elrich’s receipts would have increased by 55% in 2006, 71% in 2010 and 66% in 2014 with public money.  Both Andrews and Elrich refused developer money and Andrews turned away PAC money as well.  It’s not a coincidence that Andrews was the author of the public financing bill.

  1. You Have a Large Pre-Existing Base of Supporters

Under public financing, the key determinant of fundraising is not connections to business or labor or self-financing capacity.  It’s the number of in-county residents you can convince to contribute to your campaign.  That’s it.  For funds received from those folks, the government will pay 75% or more of your campaign receipts, at least until you hit the public match cap.  See the thresholds and caps below.

Most incumbents start with supporter bases and should be able to meet the match thresholds if running for reelection.  Over the last three cycles, only two incumbents – Mike Subin (2006) and Duchy Trachtenberg (2010) – would have failed to meet them.  It is probably not a coincidence that this system was designed and passed by incumbents!  State legislators running for county office have a good shot at qualifying for matches too.

Evan Glass is a good example of a non-incumbent who could qualify.  Glass had 396 in-county individual contributors in his 2014 District 5 race, enough to qualify if he were running at-large.  He raised $159,235 through August 2014, but would have raised $183,382 if public financing were available.  With one election under his belt (a VERY close loss) and continued involvement in the community since then, public financing is a real consideration in his case.

  1. You Can Afford Seed Money

If you don’t start with a large base, you will need a mechanism to raise small contributions.  Otherwise, you will get trapped by not having enough in-county contributions to qualify, which means you won’t have the money to set up a campaign infrastructure, which makes it harder to raise small contributions and so on.  The public financing system allows candidates (including spouses) to self-fund up to $12,000.  You should do that as soon as you can and use the money to set up a website, buy an email list and start running social media ads.  That will help you meet the match thresholds and keep your campaign going.  Or, if you don’t mind having the incumbents hate you, you can get a big email list for free!

  1. You Will Benefit from an IE

During the District 20 Senate appointment process, a group of unions and liberal groups announced that they were joining together “to achieve a progressive sweep” in local elections.  That means there is a real possibility of a labor-backed independent expenditure (IE) campaign to support left-wing candidates.  That could help ease the financial burden on those candidates unlikely to attract significant business support.  But counting on the IE is risky – there’s no guarantee that there will be one, that it will be effective and that it will support you.  After all, there could be lots of progressive candidates for an IE to choose from next year.

  1. You Are a Republican

One would think that Republican candidates would collect tons of business money, but that has not been true recently in Montgomery County.  Most business interests are non-ideological.  They want to pick winners who will support their agenda once elected and they don’t care very much about party labels.  (One of the untold stories in this county is the significant volume of political money contributed by Republican business people to Democratic candidates.)  But public financing gives Republican candidates another option – they can go to their fellow party members.  There are more than 120,000 registered Republicans in MoCo and nearly 60,000 of them voted in the 2014 general election.  Good luck getting elected here during the Trump era, but you can at least be financially competitive in the public system.  Finally, let’s remember that the most successful user of public financing in recent Maryland history was none other than Republican Larry Hogan, who is now Governor.

So are you convinced that you should enter public financing?  Well, not so fast.  In Part Three, we will examine reasons to stay out.

Possible CD6 Candidates Gather in Western Maryland

By Adam Pagnucco.

With District 6 Congressman John Delaney telling the Sun he is considering a race for Governor and Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) starting a Congressional campaign account, the chatter around CD6 is picking up.  And that chatter is going to reach a fever pitch at the end of the month.

That’s because the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a “summit” event in Flintstone on April 28 and 29.  The event (which requires registration) is described as “charting a progressive course in Western Maryland.”  And top billing in the email announcement goes to two familiar names: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Total Wine co-owner David Trone.

Kamenetz, of course, is running for Governor.  But what of Trone?  His website says he is considering a run for Montgomery County Executive.  But his attendance at the Western Maryland event (and the money he must have contributed to be listed as a “Presenting Sponsor”) suggests that he is keeping a CD6 option open.  Trone’s self-funding capacity allows him significant timetable flexibility.

But that’s not all.  The solicitation states that Delegate Frick and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) will also be attending.  Manno is a labor favorite and is known to be interested in the CD6 seat.

Congratulations to the Western Maryland Democratic PAC for setting up such a juicy event.  Get your tickets here, folks!

Should You Take Public Campaign Financing? Part One

By Adam Pagnucco.

Here’s a question that has come up over and over again with various candidates and potential candidates: should they take public campaign financing if running for county office?  Your author’s typical practice is to demand provision of food and/or liquor in exchange for answering this question.  But in the spirit of recent holidays, we are just going to give away our take right here.  Feel free to send liquor anyway!

First, let’s explore the basic characteristics of the county’s public financing system.  Candidates who wish to participate may opt in, but it is not required.  Candidates in the system must establish new public financing accounts with the State Board of Elections and any money in their old accounts cannot be used for current election expenses.  Contributions may only be accepted from individuals at a maximum of $150 per donor.  Corporate and PAC contributions are forbidden.  Self-financing is limited to $12,000 from the candidate and/or a spouse.  The county will match contributions made by in-county residents on a sliding scale with maximum amounts of $600 per donor for Executive candidates and $450 per donor for council candidates.  But to qualify for matching funds, candidates will have to meet certain thresholds in terms of number of in-county contributors as well as amounts contributed.  These thresholds are shown in the table below.

Now here’s the Big Question: do voters care about who uses public financing?  No one knows because 2018 will be the first cycle in which it will be available.  But while public financing is new, discussion of campaign financing is ancient.  Developer contributions to County Executive and County Council candidates were a huge issue in the 1990s and 2000s.  Citizen groups like Montgomery County Citizens’ PAC for the Future (CITPAC) and Neighbors for a Better Montgomery (NeighborsPAC) tracked and published them.  These groups, which have no successors today, formed a political base for anti-growth candidates who vowed to limit or entirely refuse developer contributions.  The result?  Most of the candidates who won the 1998, 2002 and 2006 elections took developer contributions freely, including Doug Duncan, Ike Leggett, Steve Silverman, Mike Subin, George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and Mike Knapp.  Phil Andrews and Marc Elrich were the primary exceptions, though Elrich lost four straight times before finally winning in 2006.  If most voters viewed developer money as something that would determine their votes, candidates supported by CITPAC and NeighborsPAC like William O’Neil, Vince Renzi, Ann Somerset, Hugh Bailey, Cary Lamari, Sharon Dooley, Cynthia Rubenstein and Chuck Young would have been elected.  It’s unclear whether the politics around public financing will play out any differently.

And so the appropriate criteria for whether to enter public financing relate to the self-interest of the candidate.  In which system will you be better off?  That depends on your own circumstances and the nature of your race.  We’ll start addressing that in Part Two.

A Mug Half Full

By Adam Pagnucco.

A General Assembly compromise passed on Sine Die will allow Diageo’s new brewery in Baltimore County to move forward.  But the amended Bill 1283 is a mug half full, with the state’s craft brewers inevitably seeking more in the future.

A brief refresher.  Diageo, owner of the world-famous Guinness brand, announced plans to open its first U.S. brewery in more than sixty years in Baltimore County a few months ago.  Diageo did not ask for a state subsidy, but it did ask for permission to sell 5,000 barrels per year from the brewery’s taproom, up from the state’s current 500 barrel limit (by far the lowest in the country).  A bill passed by the House of Delegates raised the barrel limit to 2,000 (with another 1,000 allowed if bought from a wholesaler), but it also cut back hours of operations and prohibited off-site contract brewing, a major hit on the industry.  After an outcry from brewers, the Senate amended the bill to allow a limited amount of contract brewing and to grandfather the hours of existing breweries and those in the approval process (including Diageo).  The House passed the amended bill on Sine Die.

The deal allows Diageo to come to Maryland, and that’s a good thing.  But it also contains two counter-productive elements.

The Concession to Wholesalers

Brewery taprooms are now allowed to sell 2,000 barrels directly to customers each year.  (The next-lowest state, North Carolina, allows 25,000 barrels.)  Breweries can sell another 1,000 barrels, but to do so, they have to go  through a wholesaler.  That means loading the beer on a wholesaler’s truck, sending the truck to a warehouse where the beer is offloaded, then bringing it back to the brewery to unload it again.  FOLKS, YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS UP.  The graphic below from the Comptroller’s Office illustrates how absurd this is.

Grandfathering of Hours

Existing breweries and those holding on-site consumpion permits and licenses as of April 1, 2017 are allowed to stay open as late as their local jurisdictions permit them, usually between midnight and 2 AM.  All new breweries must close by 10 PM, slamming the door shut on further growth.

The State of Maryland is effectively telling the craft beer industry the following: We don’t like you.  We will tolerate those of you who are already here, but we don’t want any more of you.

Contrast this with Virginia.  The Commonwealth’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is a joyous deal-maker, back-slapper and salesman who loves bringing employers to his state – especially craft breweries.  McAuliffe promotes the industry every chance he gets, including the creation of Stone Brewing’s special beer in honor of Virginia, Give Me Stout or Give Me Death.  His term has seen almost 100 new breweries open in the state.  Perhaps his greatest achievement was a successful four-year campaign to entice Oregon’s Deschutes to open near Roanoke.

Virginia’s Beer Drinker in Chief.  Photo credit: Richmond’s Style Weekly.

Here is McAuliffe bragging about Virginia’s booming beer industry to Hampton Roads’ WAVY TV just last week.

Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke to the National Craft Breweries Association in Washington D.C. Tuesday evening to give his best sales pitch to attract new beer businesses to Virginia.

“We got Stone to move here, and we got Deschutes to move here, we’ve got Ballast Point to move here, Green Flash, I mean, no one has had the success we’ve had the last two years recruiting major known craft breweries,” McAuliffe told 8News Reporter Jonathan Costen, pointing out that the booming beer industry has brought hundreds of jobs to the area. “We have 190-craft breweries in Virginia today. It’s a billion dollar industry for us, so I believe it really helps our tourism.

“Folks come, they love to come to our craft breweries, but in addition to that, these craft breweries are all buying locally produced products, it is great for our farmers. We can’t produce enough hops here, so I tell people go out and start a hop farm here in Virginia,” McAuliffe added.

McAuliffe’s message is the polar opposite of Maryland’s.

One elected official who understands the economic and cultural potential of craft beer is Comptroller Peter Franchot, who aggressively defended the industry during the debate over Bill 1283.  The Comptroller is now convening a task force to study the state’s beer laws from top to bottom with the goal of producing model legislation next year.  An interesting question is whether Governor Larry Hogan will come on board.  The Governor has allied with Franchot on more than one of his ideas in the past, including school air conditioning and starting school after Labor Day.  Craft brewing is a natural issue for Hogan, given its potential for job creation and the Democrats’ near-fumbling of the issue this year.

Just two guys enjoying some great Maryland craft beer.  Photo Credit: Peter Franchot.

Maryland’s iron cartel of manufacturers, wholesalers, licensees and supportive politicians has kept in place a stable, profitable system for a long time.  The just-concluded brewery bill is only the most recent manifestation of their control of Annapolis.  So opening up the beer industry is an uphill battle.  But if Franchot, the craft industry, its customers and maybe Hogan can make this a signature issue in an election year…?  Well, pull up a stool, grab a mug and get ready for the show!

Disclosure: Your author has done campaign-related work for Peter Franchot in the past.  His positions on issues like this one, including Montgomery County’s liquor monopoly, have earned my support.

Barkley Blasts Annapolis

By Adam Pagnucco.

Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39) has just given the most astounding interview by a member of General Assembly leadership ever seen by your author.  In it, he broke the most important rule of Annapolis decorum there is: never throw your superiors under the bus.

Barkley is the Chair of the House Economic Matters Committee’s Alcoholic Beverages Subcommittee.   In theory, that makes him the proximate point person on alcohol bills in the House.  Some think of the alcohol industry as one industry, but in fact it is several, with the manufacturers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and several individual companies hiring their own lobbyists and making tons of political contributions.  That makes for complicated politics which, among many other things, has produced the much-criticized bill punishing craft breweries.  That bill has already caused one potential brewery owner to bail on the state.

The anti-brewery bill passed the House on a 139-0 vote.  One source tells us, “When a bad bill passes on a vote like that, someone f____d up.”  In an incredible interview with Maryland beer blog Naptown Pint, Barkley placed the blame on his superiors, specifically Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis and Speaker of the House Mike Busch.  The whole interview is a massive scoop and a must-read, but the key passages are this:

“We didn’t know what was in the bill until the day it came in front of our committee for the vote,” Barkley answered. But was that due to the rush of the process, or was it an intentional screen being put up around the bill’s contents?

“I don’t think they were trying to give out too many details,” he commented…

“I honestly thought we were moving in the right direction with Nick Manis [MCA], Steve Wise [MSLBA legal counsel] and [Jack] Milani [MSLBA, Monaghan’s Pub in Baltimore]. We thought we were making progress, and we had the guys talking to us.”

Barkley then paused for a moment.

“All of a sudden, they quit talking to us,” he continued. “And then the [Economic Matters Committee] Chairman [Dereck E. Davis] said, ‘This is what we’re doing.’”…

I asked him his thoughts on some of the statements by House members who voted in favor of HB 1283 that they now know it was a bad bill or that they were misled on the contents ahead of the committee vote that pushed HB 1283 over to the Senate.

“I would say absolutely they were misled. [The House] thought we worked out a compromise and this was it. We hadn’t,” he stated.

“Up until this point, I ran the subcommittee and I kept my chairman [Davis] informed. But this one left my hands. I’ve never had this kind of intervention before, until this year. I thought [Manis, Wise and Milani] were meeting with us. But I think we were getting too close to stuff they didn’t want. So I think they met with the Speaker and got things changed.”

Here is a sub-committee chair describing a major bill as a backroom, secret deal involving lobbyists, a powerful committee chair and the Speaker in cahoots to deceive the full House membership.  Your author has never seen a state legislator entrusted with leadership responsibility go on the record in this way before.  It is an almost certain firing offense.

Barkley has always been something of a maverick.  Once a Vice-President of the county teachers union, he has not always been their best friend in Annapolis.  In 2009, he was famously kicked off the Appropriations Committee and lost a subcommittee chair for defying leadership on the millionaire tax.  In 2012, Barkley was one of a handful of MoCo Delegates to vote against the immensely damaging teacher pension shift, a top priority of Governor Martin O’Malley and the presiding officers.  After losing the first vote, he introduced a floor amendment to the budget which would have cut the shift in half, which also failed.  Considering this record, it’s surprising that Barkley acquired the alcohol subcommittee chair at all.

Barkley’s candor is likely aided by his apparent decision to leave Annapolis and run for County Council.  We don’t know what the future holds, but we will say this: given Barkley’s iconoclastic ways, he would make an interesting County Council Member.

GOP Fails to Stop Dem Push for Internet Privacy Protection

Vote to Allow Late Introduction of Internet Privacy Bill

Yesterday, Adam Pagnucco reported how Republicans in the House of Delegates voted narrowly to prevent the late introduction of a bill by Del. Bill Frick (D-16) designed to protect companies from selling your internet records to anybody, including scammers. Frick introduced this bill in the wake of action by the Republicans in the U.S. Congress to do away with these protections.

Good news today from the Maryland Senate.

On a party line vote, or at least what looks like one based on my eyeballing of the above vote, Senate Democrats pushed successfully to allow the late introduction to the bill and to send it immediately to the Senate Finance Committee for review.

The bill was introduced by Sen. James Rosapepe (D-21) and cosponsored by Sens. Lee, Astle, Benson, Conway, Currie, Feldman, Ferguson, Guzzone, Kagan, Kasemeyer, Kelley, King, Madaleno, Manno, Mathias, McFadden, Middleton, Muse, Nathan-Pulliam, Oaks, Peters, Pinsky, Ramirez, Robinson, Smith, Young, and Zucker.

This list of cosponsors includes the entire Montgomery delegation. Indeed, it includes all Senate Democrats, except, Sens. Brochin, Ferguson, Klausmeier, Miller, and Zirkin. All five voted to move forward with the bill.

Maryland Politics Watch

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