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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Political News (Tuesday)

(Posted 7 Feb 2006)
  • citizenship: choice and duty.
    • Peter Levine; A blog for civic renewal, 6 Feb 2006 (Research Scholar, Public Policy, Univ. of MD).
    . . . Today, people don't feel assigned to duties in communities. Instead, they are supposed to make judicious choices among politicians and policies in order to get desired outcomes. But it is often easier to move one's jurisdiction than to affect its policies. ("Exit" is easier than "voice.") People congregate in the most privileged geographical communities that they can afford, rather than trying to improve the more diverse communities from which they came. . . . we could get considerably better results if we increased opportunities to participate.
  • Students lobby for libraries.
    • Examiner, 7 Feb 2006 (by Anna Bailey, Examiner Staff Writer).
    Prince George's County high school students are fed up with outdated materials in their school libraries and have taken their cause straight to the deep pockets of the State House.

    Students in High Point High School's sixth-period government class presented legislation Monday that they helped draft and will lobby for in Annapolis that would allocate $45 million of state money towards improving school libraries statewide.
    [. . .]
    In Prince George's, 17 percent of school libraries meet the state's collection size standards - one of the worst percentages in the state, according to Maryland's Department of Education. Montgomery County fares better at 47 percent.
    [. . .]
    Sen. Gwendolyn Britt, D-Prince George's, is the bill's lead sponsor in the Senate, and she said some negotiations and concessions may have to be made to push money through. General Assembly leaders have indicated in the weeks since Gov. Robert Ehrlich released his budget that the state's treasury wouldn't have much wiggle room for special projects.

    The students' legislation also encourages counties to increase library funding and receive matching money from the state, said County Council Chairman Thomas Dernoga, D-Laurel. Dernoga worked closely with the students and has made library enhancements one of his main goals as chairman.
    [Full story].
  • Legislature tacking to right.
    • Times, 7 Feb 2006 (by S. A. Miller, The Washington Times).
    Maryland's General Assembly grew slightly more conservative and considerably more polarized last year, according to a report released yesterday by a nonpartisan government watchdog.

    Most lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled legislature had liberal voting records, but those with centrist records moved to the right last year, widening the chasm between liberals and conservatives, according to the Maryland Accountability Project (MAP).
    [. . .]
    The most liberal member of the legislature was Delegate Joanne C. Benson, Prince George's Democrat, who had an 8 percent rating, according to the report.

    Delegate Barbara Frush, Prince George's Democrat, had the second-most liberal voting record, with a 9 percent ranking.
    [. . .]
    Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat, scored 32 percent, while House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, scored 24 percent.
    [. . .]
    The scorecard for all state lawmakers is available at MAP's Web site, www.marylandaccountabilityproject.org.
  • Busch A Thorn In Side Of GOP; Md. House Speaker Is Master Tactician.
    • Post, 7 Feb 2006 (by Matthew Mosk, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    . . . "He has maintained firm control of the House at a time when debates are very partisan, and yet he's still been able to move the party's agenda forward," said Del. Pauline H. Menes (D-Prince George's), who joined the House in 1967 and is its longest-serving member. "He's mastered the job in a way I can't recall ever seeing."
    [. . .]
    Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) has held his leadership role longer than any Senate president in the country. He has used committee appointments, patronage and campaign dollars to build loyalty and maintain control. . . .
  • Taxes, fees found to be key to state's $2 billion surplus; Budget cuts accounted for 18% of fiscal reversal, analysis shows.
    • Sun, 7 Feb 2006 (by Andrew A. Green, Sun Reporter).
    . . ." [Ehrlich] has not lived up to this perception or notion of being a fiscal conservative," said Sen. Ulysses Currie, a Prince George's County Democrat who chairs the Budget and Taxation Committee. "The big part of the picture is that the economy turned around. ... That has as much if not more to do with where we are now than what the governor has done." . . .
  • Bill would require police to tape interviews.
    • Annapolis Capital, 6 Feb 2006 (by Eric Hartley, Staff Writer).
    . . . The effort to require taping of interviews has the blessing of Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman. Mr. Vallario, a defense attorney, couldn't be reached for comment.

    Prince George's County police started videotaping suspect interviews in 2002 after the department was harshly criticized for interrogation tactics in homicide cases. Defense attorneys said Prince George's detectives took several false confessions.

    Police and prosecutors there said the system has worked well. And it's hard to argue with videotape.

    "It's been great in court, too, from a prosecutor's perspective," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.
  • Bills would cut state tax on military pensions; Two lawmakers optimistic measure will pass this session .
    • Sun, 6 Feb 2006 (by Tom Stuckey, The Associated Press).
    Maryland veterans of the nation's armed forces who are pressing for a state income tax exemption for military pensions got some encouraging words at a hearing today before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

    "I believe this session ... we are going to pass a bill," said Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George's, the committee chairman. . . .

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