Tag Archives: Mike Miller

Washington Challenges Conway, Part I

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43) has not made her intentions clear regarding running for reelection but that has not stopped Del. Mary Washington (D-43) from throwing down the gauntlet and declaring her intention to run for the seat.

After winning election to the Baltimore City Council in 1995, Conway was appointed to the Senate in 1997 when Sen. John Pica, Jr. retired. Since then, she has won the Democratic nomination—tantamount to election in this district—five times. While Conway has faced stronger challenges in recent years, she has continued to win convincingly.

Past Democratic Primary Results in District 43
2014: Conway, 64.5%, Councilman Bill Henry (D-4), 35.5%.
2010: Conway, 69.5%, Hector Torres, 30.5%
2006: Conway, 92.0%, Dave Vane, 8.0%
2002: Conway, 100.0%
1998: Conway, 100.0%.

In 2014, Conway dispatched Councilman Bill Henry with ease, winning by a margin of 29%. Henry’s expenditure of $45,687.36, while not insubstantial, was below the threshold needed to take on an entrenched incumbent. Challengers don’t need to outspend incumbents but they do need enough for key expenditures.

Conway spent $146,993.41 in 2014 and this does not include any independent expenditures made on her behalf, though it does include some expenses for the general election. Though she once again contemplating retirement, having packed up her Senate office, Conway remains financially prepared to wage a serious reelection battle with $108,567.58 in her campaign account according to her January report from this year.

Conway has an interesting relationship with Senate President Mike Miller. While they don’t get along personally, Conway has long been part of Miller’s leadership team as Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. After the primary in 2014, Conway transferred $35,000 from her campaign account to Miller’s Democratic Senatorial Committee Slate and another $5,000 to conservative Sen. Roy Dyson (D-29). In short, there has been little friction on legislative or political matters even if Miller and Conway will never be BFFs.

Tomorrow, we take a closer look at the challenger, Del. Mary Washington.

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Miller Causes a Huge Headache for Maryland Democrats

By Adam Pagnucco.

Democrats all over the country have lately been demanding that Confederate statues and other monuments celebrating slavery be taken down.  That extends to Maryland, where Baltimore Mayor Cathy Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed in the middle of the night.  But when Maryland Democrats demanded that an Annapolis statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney also be removed, they ran into opposition from arguably the state’s most powerful Democratic politician: Senate President Mike Miller.

Democrats’ objections to Taney are rooted in his authoring of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that descendants of Africans imported as slaves into the U.S. could not be American citizens.  In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan defended the Taney statue in Annapolis in the Washington Post.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is opposed to a change in the state song and likened the effort to calls for removing the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, from the grounds of the State House.

“It’s political correctness run amok,” Hogan said in an interview last week. “Where do we stop? Do we get rid of the George Washington statues out here and take down all the pictures from all the people from the Colonial era that were slave owners? Do we change the name of Washington County, Carroll County and Calvert County?

“You can’t change history, and we’re not going to be able to rewrite history,” Hogan said. “And I don’t think we ought to be changing any of that.”

After Democrats including House Speaker Mike Busch pushed back this week, Hogan changed his mind and agreed to remove the statue.  The Governor was one of three members of the four-member board with jurisdiction over the statue to vote for removal.  But one member of the board objected to the process of deciding the issue by email: Senate President Mike Miller.  In his letter, Miller argued that Taney opposed slavery and “freed his slaves early in his life,” joined an “anti-kidnapping society” to protect free blacks and remained loyal to the Union until his death.  Miller also cited support for the statue from former Baltimore City Delegate Pete Rawlings and a descendant of Dred Scott.  We reprint the letter below.

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s opinion, it’s a big headache for Maryland Democrats.  Much of their strategy to oppose Governor Hogan has been to criticize him for silence in the face of actions by President Donald Trump.  That strategy has affected the behavior of the Governor, who just said that Trump “made a terrible mistake” in his comments on the white supremacist invasion of Charlottesville.  But what of Miller?  If his comments on the Taney statue had come from Hogan, Maryland Democrats would be swarming all over him.  What happens when such sentiments come from one of the most powerful Democrats in the state?

One Democrat who did not blanch from criticizing the Senate President was Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor.  Madaleno wrote on Facebook that Miller “is wrong.”

The rest of the Democrats now have a choice.  They can be intellectually honest and take on one of the leaders of their party.  Or they can ignore Miller and look like hypocrites.

As with Hogan on Trump, silence is not an option.

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2018 Maryland Senate Ratings, Part II

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Part I discussed ratings for safe and toss-up seats in the Maryland Senate. Today, 7S focuses on the six Lean and Likely Democratic districts.  All are currently held by incumbent Democrats.

Lean Democratic

District 3 (Frederick County). Sen. Ron Young had a real scare in 2014, winning just 50.8% of the vote after defeating incumbent Alex Mooney with 51.1% in 2010. Mooney has since fled to West Virginia where he is now a U.S. Representative.

This part of Frederick has been trending Democratic. Clinton carried D3 by 8. Hogan won by 15, a good margin but less impressive than in several districts held by Democrats in Anne Arundel and Baltimore. As this district has the best Democratic territory in Frederick, Young ought to be able to win a third term.

But Frederick has been hotly contested between the two parties of late and this former Frederick Mayor has sometimes been a controversial figure. My current expectations remain for the GOP to have another go at Young but fall short, though they will force Democrats to scramble to retain the seat.

Likely Democratic

See the map at the bottom of the post for the locations of the five Likely Democratic districts.

District 8 (Baltimore County). Sen. Kathy Klausmeier won an impressive victory in 2014. Though her district went for Hogan by 36 points, she not only won but took 61.2% of the vote. In 2016, Hogan’s impressive margin evaporated as Trump carried D8 by seven-tenths of one percent.

This is an interesting district because, though the incumbent has demonstrated popularity, it remains marginal turf. If Republicans want to make gains, they will have to look here, even if Klausmeier is clearly no easy mark. The district could become competitive with the right Republican candidate and favorable political winds.

District 11 (Baltimore County). Sen. Bobby Zirkin was unopposed for reelection last time around, so what is he doing on this list? Zirkin represents a cross-pressured district that supported Hogan by 14 points even as it then went for Clinton by 24 points.

Zirkin is an active legislator who champions several popular, easy-to-explain causes, such as stronger anti-domestic violence legislation. Nonetheless, if Maryland’s political climate turns against Democrats, this seat could be a surprise domino to fall. The district bears watching even if Zirkin should be in good shape.

District 12 (Howard and Baltimore Counties). Another cross-pressured district, D12 went for Hogan by 11 but Clinton by 17. Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Ed Kasemeyer won reelection with a convincing, albeit a tad lower than Klausmeier, margin of 58.6%.

Kasemeyer has an impressive electoral history (59% in 2014, 59% in 2010, 62% in 2006, 63% in 2002, 57% in 1998, 51% in 1994, 54% in 1986) that will make it difficult for Republicans to break through in increasingly Democratic Howard.

Howard has shown itself willing to vote for particular sorts of Republicans, including County Executive Allan Kittleman, who is liberal on social questions, and Gov. Larry Hogan, who relentlessly ignores them. Can the Republicans find one to challenge Kasemeyer or win the open seat should he choose to retire?

District 27 (Southern Maryland). Mike Miller entered the House of Delegates in 1971, the Senate in 1975 and became the Senate President in 1987, which makes him the longest serving legislative body leader in American history. Sen. Miller has led the Senate for so long that when I interviewed him over the telephone for my college senior thesis in the late 1980s, he was already Senate President.

The Senate President represents a politically diverse district that includes big chunks of Calvert and southeastern Prince George’s Counties as well as smaller bits of Charles and St. Mary’s. The Calvert portion of the district is much more Republican than the portions in Charles or Prince George’s.

Republicans would love to defeat this pillar of the Democratic Party. While he attracts complaints of being too conservative from the left, he fights very hard for members of his caucus, raising a lot of money and directing broader organizational efforts to retain a robust Democratic Senate majority.

This district is also far from totally hostile territory. While Clinton won it by 5 points in 2016, Hogan also carried it by 6 points in 2014. This divergence is a lot smaller than many Maryland legislative districts and is suggestive of tighter partisan loyalties, especially among its sizable African-American minority.

Republicans have not come close to defeating Miller. He won 63% in 2014, 75% in 2010, 70% in 2006, 72% in 2002, 69% in 1998, 68% in 1994, 84% in 1990, and 82% in 1986. (The State Board of Elections has not put the stone tablets with earlier election results online yet.) Despite receiving his lowest percentage since at least the 1980s in 2014, my guess is that Sen. Miller is not going to be beat. Still, the turf is marginal and remains Likely Democratic.

District 32 (Anne Arundel). Yet another cross-pressured district that bears a more than passing resemblance to its nearby counterparts in Baltimore and Howard Counties, this district went for Hogan by 17 but for Clinton by 12.

Moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange would seemingly be a good fit for this district. Except in these highly partisan times, some will argue that an outspoken liberal would do more to stir the troops. Like others listed here, he possesses real electoral experience, winning his seat by 59% in 2014, 60% in 2010, 61% in 2006, 59% in 2002, and 52% in 1998.

The remarkable consistency since his first reelection does not look like the record of someone about to lose his seat. Nevertheless, if Republicans are to make gains, they will look to Anne Arundel and to this district along with District 30.

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Assembly to Investigate Hogan Administration’s War on Christmas

Looks like the War on Christmas finally has its first casualties: ordinary workers who failed to receive the full pay that they earned due to incompetence by the Hogan Administration. Let’s hope cheating workers wasn’t the business sense that Hogan promised to bring to Annapolis.

The following is a press release from the Office of Senate President Mike Miller:

Joint Committee Announced to Investigate Shorted Employee Paychecks
State’s Failed Computer System has deprived employees of full paychecks before the Holiday season

Annapolis, MD – Today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-28, Charles County), and House Appropriations Chairman Delegate Maggie McIntosh announced the creation of a joint legislative panel to address the mishandling of State employee paychecks in Maryland.

In a hearing before the Finance Committee in mid-December, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services cited over 1,100 emails from employees about the alarming mishandling of the employee payroll.

While the Department admits to have received over 1000 complaints, they have not released information regarding the size and scope of the problems with the system despite employees who have come forward about paychecks with missing overtime pay, base pay, and a lack of promotional pay. State employees who have brought the matter to the attention of the General Assembly testified about an inability to make their mortgage, health, and other critical payments due to the administration’s irresponsible oversight.

“What has happened here under this Administration is unconscionable,” stated Chairman Middleton. “The Administration was warned that the system was not ready and for two months, employees have been receiving partial paychecks even as we are approaching the holiday season. Some have been forced into terrible situations with many employees getting high interest loans just to make it through something that is squarely the fault of the Governor and his Administration, who have been insensitive as to how important a paycheck is to these public servants.”

The workgroup is similar to a review conducted by the legislature in 2014 around the technology failure of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

“In an effort to save a few dollars, the Hogan administration ignored repeated warnings and put a payroll system in place that is cheating corrections officers and their families out of their pay during the holidays,” said Chairwoman McIntosh. “The administration’s response to this crisis has been to stonewall requests for information, insult the corrections officer’s union and deny the true size and scope of the problem. We are going to get to the bottom of this.”

Members of the workgroup will be announced next week.

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Hogan Threatens Legislative Leaders

Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted this out yesterday via his campaign organization, Change Maryland:

HoganTweetThreat

This is one of those wonderful threats that is clearly meant one way–if you don’t bend, I’ll make electoral trouble for you at home–but Hogan’s press people will try to spin as we’re hoping that they’re listening to their constituents.

Somehow, I doubt they’re intimidated.

It’s also an argument that only goes so far. Democrats won so many seats in the General Assembly that Gov. Hogan cannot sustain a veto without Democratic support. Legislators have mandates too.

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Miller Announces Committee Assignments

From the Press Release:

Senate President Miller Announces New Committee Assignments

Annapolis, MD – Today, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., announced new committee assignments effective upon the swearing in of the newly elected Senate.

“These committee assignments reflect the diversity and unique background and knowledge of each of our Senators and Senators-Elect. I am pleased to announce these appointments and know that these Senators will be very successful in these roles,” said Senate President Miller. “We have incredible talent and knowledge in the Maryland Senate and I am certain all of these appointments will serve our State well.”

The following Senators and Senators-Elect have been appointed to the following committees.

Budget & Taxation Committee

·         Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-12, Howard & Baltimore Counties) – Chair
·         Senator Richard S. Madaleno (D-18, Montgomery County) – Vice-Chair
·         Senator Ulysses Currie (D-25, Prince George’s County)
·         Senator James “Ed” DeGrange (D-32, Anne Arundel County)
·         Senator-Elect Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-37, Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties)
·         Senator George Edwards (R-1, Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties)
·         Senator Bill Ferguson (D-46, Baltimore City)
·         Senator Joseph Getty (R-5, Carroll County)
·         Senator-Elect Guy J. Guzzone (D-13, Howard County)
·         Senator Nancy J. King (D-39, Montgomery County)
·         Senator Roger Manno (D-19, Montgomery County)
·         Senator Nathaniel McFadden (D-45, Baltimore City)
·         Senator Douglas J. J. Peters (D-23, Prince George’s County)

Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs Committee

·         Senator Joan Carter Conway (D-43, Baltimore City) – Chair
·         Senator Paul G. Pinsky (D-22, Prince George’s County) – Vice-Chair
·         Senator-Elect Gail Bates (R-9, Howard & Carroll Counties)
·         Senator-Elect Cheryl C. Kagan (D-17, Montgomery County)
·         Senator Karen S. Montgomery (D-14, Montgomery County)
·         Senator-Elect Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D-44, Baltimore County & Baltimore City)
·         Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-21, Prince George’s & Anne Arundel Counties)
·         Senator-Elect Johnny Ray Salling (R-6, Baltimore County)
·         Senator Bryan Simonaire (R-31, Anne Arundel County)
·         Senator-Elect Steve Waugh (R-29, St. Mary’s & Calvert Counties)
·         Senator Ronald N. Young (D-3, Frederick County)

Finance Committee

·         Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-28, Charles County) – Chair
·         Senator John C. Astle (D-30, Anne Arundel County) – Vice-Chair
·         Senator Joanne C. Benson (D-24, Prince George’s County)
·         Senator Brian J. Feldman (D-15, Montgomery County)
·         Senator Stephen S. Hershey, Jr. (R-36, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, and Caroline Counties)
·         Senator J.B. Jennings (R-7, Baltimore & Harford Counties)
·         Senator Delores Kelley (D-10, Baltimore County)
·         Senator Kathy Klausmeier (D-8, Baltimore County)
·         Senator James N. Mathias (D-38, Somerset, Wicomico, & Worcester Counties)
·         Senator Catherine Pugh (D-40, Baltimore City)
·         Senator Edward R. Reilly (R-33, Anne Arundel County)

Judicial Proceedings Committee

·         Senator Bobby Zirkin (D-11, Baltimore County) – Chair
·         Senator Lisa Gladden (D-41, Baltimore City) – Vice-Chair
·         Senator Jim Brochin (D-42, Baltimore County)
·         Senator-Elect Bob Cassilly (R-34, Harford County)
·         Senator-Elect Michael J. Hough (R-4, Frederick & Carroll Counties)
·         Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-26, Prince George’s County)
·         Senator-Elect Wayne Norman (R-35, Harford & Cecil Counties)
·         Senator Victor R. Ramirez (D-47, Prince George’s County)
·         Senator Jamin “Jamie” Raskin (D-20, Montgomery County)
·         Senator Christopher Shank (R-2, Washington County)
·         Senator-Elect Susan C. Lee (D-16, Montgomery County)

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Updated Senate Majority Leader Short List

I’ve gotten a lot of interesting feedback on my post about who  might be the next Majority Leader of the State State. Several things have been made clear to me by our very impassioned readers:

The first is that Paul Pinsky is not on Mike Miller’s short list, long list or any other list for this position. Considering what a progressive, reform minded individual he is, I doubt this bothers him very much.

The second is that Rich Madaleno and Catherine Pugh are the clear front runners in the estimation of pretty much everybody. The smart money appears to be on Pugh, but the broad conventional wisdom leans towards Madaleno.

Both would be history making in their own way. As far as I can tell, Catherine Pugh would be the first female Majority Leader, and the first African American to serve in this role since Clarence Blount. Madaleno would be the first LGBT Individual to serve in the role.

Third,  If he is passed over the Chairmanship of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Jamie Raskin may find himself pressing for the Majority Leader post.

Fourth, Roger Manno, Nancy King and Bobby Zirkin may each have an outside shot but they probably aren’t near the top of this list.

Fifth, several legislators facing reelections with varying degrees of competitiveness may have a bank shot at the Majority Leader post – specifically Ron Young, Lisa Gladden and Doug Peters . . . if they survive campaign season.

So, I’ve updated my list and split it into a “long” and “short” version.

Short

  • Rich Madaleno (Montgomery County)
  • Catherine Pugh (Baltimore City)

Long 

  • Roger Manno (Montgomery County)
  • Nancy King (Montgomery County)
  • Lisa Gladden (Baltimore City)
  • Ron Young (Frederick County)
  • Doug Peters (Prince George’s County)
  • Bobby Zirkin (Baltimore County)
  • Jamie Raskin (Montgomery County)

However, the most important factor in choosing the Majority Leader may well be who helps their colleagues with their campaigns. While not as high minded as the ability to eloquently defend the Democrats on the floor of the Senate, colleagues and the leadership really appreciate it. The reality is that campaigns cost money.

This handicaps Rich Madaleno who has historically shown little interest in fundraising. He also has a competitive primary where he needs to focus his resources until June 24th.

Lisa Gladden and Doug Peters both have historically been good fundraisers, but both have drawn opponents of substance in the primary to keep them busy. However, if they are victorious, they could certainly start laying the statewide ground work necessary to set themselves up as contenders to be Majority Leader.

Raskin doesn’t like to give campaign dollars that he raises to other campaigns and causes, though he is often generous with his own funds. That scruple undermines his ability to aid colleagues.

Ron Young will need to focus exclusively on his swingy Western Maryland District until November.

Zirkin, Manno and Pugh have the luxury to not have to fight in their home districts. Instead of catching up on Game of Thrones they should replicate the formidable efforts of Rob Garagiola during the 2010 election cycle. Rob spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting for leadership priorities around the state and was rewarded.

Am I still nuts? Missing a name? Let me know by dropping me a line directly at johnga.ems@gmail.com.

UPDATE: Pugh wouldn’t be the first female Majority Leader. That distinction is held by Rosalie Abrams. And the last African-American Majority Leader was McFadden in 2003-07. h/t Brian Bailey.

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Who is the Next Senate Majority Leader?

Trying to figure out who is the next person to obtain a particular leadership position in any legislature is often a pointless exercise in Kremlinology. However, pointless exercises in Kremlinology are great fun. So here we go.

After the 2010 elections, Senate Majority Leader Ed Kasemeyer was appointed Chairman of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee. Senate President Mike Miller appointed Montgomery County Senator Rob Garagiola as his replacement. After the 2013 session, Senator Garagiola retired from the legislature. In his place, retiring Howard County Senator Jim Robey served as a placeholder Majority Leader for the 2014 Session.

Following the 2014 Elections, the position will be vacant and Mike Miller will need to appoint a new Majority Leader for the fourth time in four-ish years. I asked a panel of reporters at a forum on the 2014 session who they thought had the best shot at becoming Majority Leader. None had any idea who might be on the short list.

After consulting with my vast network of spies, the following would appear to be the short list –

  • Bobby Zirkin (Baltimore County)
  • Rich Madelano (Montgomery County)
  • Roger Manno (Montgomery County)
  • Nancy King (Montgomery County)
  • Paul Pinsky (Prince George’s County)

From 2011-2013, Montgomery County held to two leadership positions in the Senate (JPR Chair and Majority Leader). Montgomery County currently holds one (JPR Chair), but that is precarious as Frosh is running for Attorney General. For Maryland’s largest jurisdiction to hold no leadership positions in the upper chamber would be untenable, especially since all of Montgomery’s eight Senate seats are held by Democrats.

Most people I have talked to view Jamie Raskin as the heavy favorite for the JPR Chairmanship. However, if Raskin is not appointed–and considering how far to the left of Mike Miller he is, this does not seem unrealistic to me–it would seem to necessitate the appointment of Manno, Madaleno or King as Majority Leader.

However, Raskin’s main opponent for the JPR Chairmanship seems to be Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County. If Raskin is appointed Chair, Zirkin could be appointed Majority Leader as a consolation prize. Conversely, if he is passed over for Chair, Raskin could find himself in contention to be Majority Leader

I personally think Manno (who would be entering his second term in the senate) probably lacks the requisite seniority to be Majority Leader. However, stranger things have happened.

Currently, Prince George’s County lacks a Committee Chairman, although Senate President Mike Miller represents a large chunk of the jurisdiction. This makes Pinsky somewhat more attractive.

Who am I missing? Who do you think has the edge? What’s your analysis? Email johnga.ems@gmail.com to let me know.

 

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Alternative to Inheritance Tax Cuts

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Much ado has been made of the necessity of cutting inheritance taxes in Maryland in order to avoid driving away wealthy people from Maryland looking to leave their assets unencumbered by state taxes. Sounds like a reasonable theory. And it’s a priority of Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch.

Except that there is only anecdotal rather than systematic evidence that these specific taxes actually drive people away. The more thorough analyses indicate little impact. In any case, it’s not clear that even if it were so, that the changes will accomplish the goal, as other states have no inheritance taxes at all.

Since revenue estimates keep declining, it’s not at all clear that tax cuts are advisable at all at this time. If we’re not careful, the State may end up having difficulty paying its bills. Alternatively, the General Assembly would need to identify spending cuts to match the tax cuts. After all, tax cuts are another form of expenditure.

If the State desires to cut taxes, there is a better way. Instead of cutting a tax that does designed to accomplish the illusory problem of preventing wealthy taxpayers from fleeing the State, let’s simply raise the minimum amount on which state income taxes are paid.

This alternative has many virtues. First, it puts more money directly in the pocket of ordinary people who need the money and whose incomes have stagnated for some years. Second, people with less money are more likely to spend it and stimulate the economy.

As it turns out, lots of poor, working, and middle-class people can generate jobs just fine with their spending power. Contrary to propaganda that only the rich are job creators, basic economic theory says that everyone generates jobs through their consumption and savings (i.e. investment).

Finally, this sort of tax cut benefits everyone who pays taxes. The wealthy get a sum too–the same amount as most who pay taxes. It nonetheless remains a smaller amount of their income. A fairer way to reduce the burden on all of the people who are bear it rather than a select few who don’t need a break. More crucially, there is no solid evidence that doing so will aid our State’s economy.

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