Saturday, February 9, 2013

JuiceBlender: Death Penalty Repeal Has Enough Votes, Prince George's Aims to Copyright Kids' Book Reports, Tea Party Sanity

PLUS: Chamber of Commerce Under Fire for Opposing Increase to $7.25/Hour Minimum Wage

Below Maryland Juice highlights updates on several hot-button legislative fights going on in Annapolis:

JUICE#1: MARYLAND DEATH PENALTY REPEAL HAS ENOUGH VOTES TO PASS // SENATORS JOHN ASTLE & RON YOUNG EXPLAIN THEMSELVES - Maryland Juice caught exciting updates on Maryland's death penalty repeal effort in The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun this week. The two papers reported that State Senators John Astle and Ron Young decided to back death penalty repeal, thereby giving the effort enough support to pass a floor vote in the State Senate (excerpts below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Proponents of repeal of the death penalty have picked up a potentially pivotal vote in the Senate with the decision of Sen. Ronald N. Young of Frederick County to support an end to executions in Maryland....

Young narrowly won election in 2010 in a district that previously sent a conservative Republican to the Senate.  But he said he wasn't concerned about political fallous from his vote.

"My district's not as conservative as some people think it is," he said. "If it's a moral issue. I vote the way I think is right...."

The Washington Post highlighted Sen. John Astle's reasons for supporting repeal of the death penalty, and they also included a full accounting of the twenty-five Senators who we can thank for finally making murder by state employees illegal in Maryland:
WASHINGTON POST: Two more Maryland senators have said they will support a bill to abolish capital punishment, giving the measure backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) more than enough expected votes to clear the chamber.

Sen. John C. Astle (D-Anne Arundel) said in an interview with The Post on Monday that he plans to vote in favor of repealing Maryland’s death penalty. And Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick) also plans to vote for repeal, The Baltimore Sun reported Monday....

Astle, who is planning to run for re-election next year, said he wasn’t sure how his stance on capital punishment would affect his prospects.

"I’m going to be 70 years old in two months," he said. "If I can’t say what I believe and vote the way I believe, then what good am I?"

Maryland Senate Supporters of Death Penalty Repeal (via Washington Post)
  1. John Astle (D-Anne Arundel)
  2. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s)
  3. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore)
  4. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s)
  5. James DeGrange Sr. (D-Anne Arundel)
  6. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore)
  7. Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery)
  8. Brian  Frosh (D-Montgomery)
  9. Lisa Gladden(D-Baltimore)
  10. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-Baltimore)
  11. Delores Kelley (D-Baltimore County)
  12. Nancy King (D-Montgomery)
  13. Richard Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery)
  14. Roger P. Manno (D-Montgomery)
  15. Nathaniel J. McFadden (D-Baltimore)
  16. Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery)
  17. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s)
  18. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s)
  19. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s)
  20. Catherine Pugh (D-Baltimore)
  21. Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George’s)
  22. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery)
  23. Edward Reilly (R-Anne Arundel)
  24. Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s)
  25. Ronald Young (D-Frederick)

WE'RE NOT THERE YET // ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING ON VALENTINE'S DAY - Even though the votes are lining up in the Maryland Senate, there's still a lot of game left in this fight. Maryland Citizens Against State Executions is asking supporters to flood the state legislature for public hearings on Valentine's Day, February 14th:
MD CASE: On February 14 two important hearings will happen on the bill to abolish Maryland's death penalty. We need to fill both rooms (simultaneously) to show the legislators how important it is that death penalty repeal happen THIS YEAR!

Governor Martin O'Malley is expected to lead off the testimony in both houses, so there will be lots of press, and lots of energy and excitement.

We hope you can be there to witness history in the making!

When: 1PM, Thursday Feb. 14  (arrive by 12:30 to get through security)

Where: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing room
2 East Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street,
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991


House Judiciary Committee hearing room
Room 100, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991

Parking: Parking is hard to come by in Annapolis; we advise using Gott's Court Parking Garage, 25 Calvert St., Annapolis, MD 21401. Cost will be around $11.00.

Have questions? Contact our office at 301-779-5230 or email us at  

JUICE#2: PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD TRYING TO CLAIM OWNERSHIP OF COPYRIGHTS FOR STUDENT ART AND BOOK REPORTS - The Washington Post recently raised red flags about an alarming proposal being debated at the Prince George's County Board of Education. Apparently the school system is seriously thinking about trying to claim they own the copyright to things including school children's art and book reports (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual.

The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

"There is something inherently wrong with that," David Cahn, an education activist who regularly attends county school board meetings, said before the board’s vote to consider the policy....

After having fought greedy copyright trolls in Congress and also having them attack this blog, I can personally attest to the rampant abuse of the spirit of copyright law today. I seriously hope the Prince George's school board members reject this ridiculous proposal. What kind of a lesson are we trying to teach our kids? P.S. Some folks I know have started a website to petition against this effort:

JUICE#3: OMG, MARYLAND JUICE SUPPORTS LEGISLATION SPONSORED BY TEA PARTIERS // WHERE IS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ON CIVIL LIBERTIES? -  They say a stopped watch is still correct twice a day, and on certain civil liberties that saying may apply to the Tea Party. Maryland Juice recently stumbled upon legislation (HB558) being sponsored by Tea Party members that I actually support. Drunk-boating, anti-gay lawmaker Don Dwyer and a handful of Republican Delegates are sponsoring the "Maryland Liberty Preservation Act of 2013" which would prohibit state agencies and employees from aiding the United States in detaining people under the National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, the lawmakers appear to be attempting to protect Marylanders from being unconstitutionally detained without trail by the Feds:

ACLU CALLS INDEFINITE DETENTION OF CITIZENS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: As we have previously noted, Democrats in Congress have been continuing high profile Bush/Ashcroft-era assaults on civil liberties under the well-worn and vague justification of fighting terrorism. The group of Maryland Republicans are specifically protesting the U.S. government's claims that it can indefinitely detain citizens without trial, and they are trying to prohibit our state from participating. The ACLU thinks the U.S. government's actions are unconstitutional:
ACLUIn December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president - and all future presidents - to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war....

CONGRESS GUTS EFFORTS TO BAN INDEFINITE DETENTION OF U.S. CITIZENS WITHOUT TRIAL - The Huffington Post reported that last December, Senator Diane Feinstein tried to fix this assault on our constitutional rights, but the effort was gutted and watered-down in typical Congressional fashion (excerpt below):
HUFFINGTON POST: Congress stripped a provision Tuesday from a defense bill that aimed to shield Americans from the possibility of being imprisoned indefinitely without trial by the military. The provision was replaced with a passage that appears to give citizens little protection from indefinite detention.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was added by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), but there was no similar language in the version of the bill that passed the House, and it was dumped from the final bill released Tuesday after a conference committee from both chambers worked out a unified measure.

It declared that "An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention...."

The new provision appears to do little, because the Supreme Court has already declared that the writ of habeas corpus -- requiring that someone be presented to a judge -- applies to all people. The more difficult part of whether people deserve a trial remains unsettled, and the new provision does not appear to resolve it....

WHEREFORE ART THOU DEMOCRATIC CIVIL LIBERTARIANS? // REJECT JOHN BRENNAN AS CIA CHIEF - Meanwhile, Obama has also nominated a CIA chief (John Brennan) who believes that the U.S. government has the right to kill American citizens in drone strikes, with the flimsiest of evidence:
DANA MILBANK (VIA WASHINGTON POST): Brennan is the architect of the drone warfare program, an extraordinary assertion of the executive’s powers. In this new, hidden warfare, unelected officials, without the blessing of a court, or anything else, order killings of suspected terrorists - even American citizens, perhaps on U.S. soil.

It’s an expansion of presidential authority crying out for congressional oversight, and this week was the Senate’s big chance to explore in public the policy of targeted killing using unmanned aircraft. But the only drones in evidence Thursday afternoon at Brennan’s confirmation hearing were the lawmakers on the dais

Did the Democratic protection of civil liberties end with Sen. Russ Feingold's departure from the Senate? It seems increasingly true that the libertarian right is far more vocal about protecting individual liberties than my fellow Democrats. Things that make you go hmm.

JUICE#4: MARYLAND JUICE OFFERS $30 REWARD FOR A MIKE MILLER 3D STATUE - Bryan Sears at the Towson Patch reported yesterday that legislators in Annapolis had the opportunity to witness a demonstration of 3D printing technology by making small statues of State Senators. Sears also noted that Maryland Juice was interested in acquiring a Mike Miller statue (seriously, I am interested!):
PATCH: It's not a statue in front of the office building that bares his name but Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller did receive a bust of himself this week courtesy of the Regional Manufacturing Institute....

The technology is similar to what was used in a scene of Jurassic Park 3 where a copy of a velociraptor's larynx was recreated. The institute offered legislators in Annapolis the opportunity to have themselves scanned into a computer and get busts of themselves....

David Moon at Maryland Juice issued a $30 reward for anyone who could procure him a bust of the Senate president. No word on if he's landed one.....

REWARD IF FOUND: If you are one of the owners of a rare Mike Miller 3D statue, I am offering a $30 bounty:

JUICE#5: ADVOCATES FOR MINIMUM WAGE HIKE CHALLENGE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHIEF TO TRY LIVING ON $7.25/HOUR - The Baltimore Business Journal reports that advocates of a minimum wage are challenging the head of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to actually try living on the current $7.25/hour rate (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL: Raise Maryland, a group supporting an increase in Maryland’s minimum wage, wants Kathleen Snyder, CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, to spend a day living as a minimum-wage worker.

The Chamber opposes the concept of raising the hourly minimum wage in Maryland from the current $7.25 an hour, said Mathew Palmer, a lobbyist for the Chamber....

Raise Maryland said Snyder should spend a day riding public transportation to work, bringing her lunch to work and buying clothes and other necessities on layaway, as minimum-wage workers do, according to a statement from the organization....

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have higher minimum wages than Maryland, said Matthew Hanson, campaign coordinator for Raise Maryland.

Maryland Juice also noticed a photo on @RaiseMaryland's Twitter feed showing them protesting for a minimum wage hike outside of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce office:

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