Wednesday, November 20, 2013

JUICE: Mizeur Calls for Marijuana Legalization, Gansler Disses Brown on Obamacare, Duncan vs. Leggett at Our Reader Party

Below Maryland Juice provides a few news items that may be of interest to politicos, including a summary of what happened during the sometimes feisty Q&A at our "Million Views Party" Monday night:

JUICE #1: GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE HEATHER MIZEUR CALLS FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION // PLUS: GANSLER & BROWN RESPOND - This week Delegate Heather Mizeur unveiled a plan to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maryland. The Washington Post received an advanced copy of the plan and published responses from the rival gubernatorial campaigns of Doug Gansler and Anthony Brown (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Heather R. Mizeur on Tuesday will propose legalizing marijuana and using the tax revenue it generates to fund pre-kindergarten education, according to an advance copy of her plan.... She estimates that taxing the drug could yield up to $157.5 million in new revenue for the state each year....

Mizeur’s two better-known Democratic opponents reacted cautiously to word of her plan.

“The attorney general recognizes that public sentiment is slowly shifting toward limited, prescribed medicinal use of marijuana and, in some states, even toward decriminalization of marijuana,” said Gansler campaign spokesman Bob Wheelock. “There does not appear to be a groundswell toward full scale legalization here in Maryland, nor does the attorney general feel that unrestrained legalization would be appropriate.”

Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, said Brown “welcomes a continued discussion and analysis on how decriminalizing negligible amounts of marijuana would impact the ability of our law enforcement agencies to focus on more violent crimes and criminals....”
SUMMARY OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES' VIEWS THUS FAR ON MARIJUANA - Based on the candidates' commentary in The Washington Post, it appears that while Mizeur supports full-on pot legalization, Gansler opposes the proposal and is silent on decriminalization (aka the proposal to simply change the penalty for possession from jail time to a fine). Meanwhile, Anthony Brown's campaign appears to be silent on legalization but may be keeping the door open to supporting decriminalization.  You can read Mizeur's press release announcing her proposal below:

Mizeur Proposes Marijuana Legalization in Maryland

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – This morning, Heather Mizeur, Democratic candidate for governor, released her plan to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Maryland.

“A majority of Marylanders and Americans support the legalization of marijuana because of its impact on public safety and its ability to generate badly needed revenue for critical state priorities,” said Mizeur. “Legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana similar to the way we regulate alcohol will provide our state with increased revenue, enhance public safety, and improve environmental and economic outcomes.”

Under Mizeur’s proposal, taxation of marijuana would generate $157.5 million annually to be spent on early childhood education.

“Legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana will provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education. Our plan will help ensure that prekindergarten is available to all children in our state.”

“Finally, a Maryland gubernatorial candidate who understands the linkage between drug policy, crime and human rights,” said Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland State Police Officer who served for 33 years in law enforcement. We now have a chance to focus our limited police resources on violent crime and to end mass incarceration.”

To read Mizeur’s entire plan to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, visit


JUICE #2: DOUG GANSLER DISSES ANTHONY BROWN ON OBAMACARE, SAYING THE LT. GOVERNOR IS "DROPPING THE BALL" - Maryland Juice received the following press release from the gubernatorial campaign of Doug Gansler stating that Lt. Governor Anthony Brown is "dropping the ball" on Obamacare enrollment in Maryland:

DROPPING THE BALL: Lt. Governor Anthony Brown Mismanages Maryland Health Exchange Rollout, Calls Insurance Company Cancellations "Renewal Notices”

Silver Spring, MARYLAND - Lieutenant Governor Brown said Sunday that the 73,000 Marylanders who have had their health insurance cancelled by insurance companies should know “It’s not really a cancellation,” and that “they are renewal notices.” This blatant, factual inaccuracy is part of an emerging pattern: Brown mismanaged the rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange and has yet to be clear about his failure to oversee the program or what he is doing to fix it.

“Attorney General Gansler and I strongly support Obamacare. Some states managed this process well and are succeeding. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Governor Brown, given the job of managing the rollout, mismanaged it, and has given Obamacare critics ammunition to attack it.,” said Delegate Jolene Ivey, Gansler’s Lt. Governor running mate. “Hopefully the Governor has taken this over,” she added.

Bob Wheelock, Gansler’s Communications Director added, “Today Lt. Gov. Brown is appearing with local athletes to highlight efforts to get people to enroll.  We support that.  But he dropped the ball when it came to actually getting the rollout right and I think the voters of Maryland would prefer he fix it instead of posing for photo opportunities.”

Wheelock also noted that in a recent WBAL interview, Brown admitted to knowing that pre-rollout testing of Maryland’s health care exchange had technical challenges. “Why didn’t Brown stand up and do something to protect Obamacare, fixing the problem here in Maryland before it happened?” Wheelock asked. Brown’s statement on WBAL also contradicts what he said previously when he claimed not to know of any problems with the system until the opening day of the rollout.

“He has constantly ducked responsibility and has refused to be straight about the problems and what he’s doing to fix them,” added Ivey.

Wheelock added that unlike Brown, who is making excuses for insurance companies, Democratic candidate for Governor Doug Gansler is taking them on.  His office yesterday called on eight Maryland health insurance companies to comply with the letter of the law under the Affordable Care Act and spelled out the information that every Maryland consumer should receive if their insurance carrier opts to cancel their policy.

In that letter, Attorney General Gansler noted that "Our office will not stand for the abuses and fear-mongering that has been documented in other states."

Notably, today Anthony Brown's campaign issued a press release indicating that the Lt. Governor would be promoting health care in Prince George's County (excerpt below):

Lt. Governor Brown to Promote Health Care and Education in Prince George's County

Brown to Participate in Health Care Outreach Announcement and Tour Local Elementary School

CAPITOL HEIGHTS & UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (November 19, 2013) – TODAY, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown will participate in two events in Prince George’s County, where he’ll continue his efforts to expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Marylanders. He will also tour a local elementary school as part of American Education Week, as he continues his efforts to provide every child in Maryland with a world-class education.

JUICE #3: SPARKS FLY BETWEEN MOCO EXEC IKE LEGGETT, DOUG DUNCAN & COUNCILMEMBER GEORGE LEVENTHAL AT MARYLAND JUICE'S READER PARTY - On Monday night Maryland Juice hosted a "million views" party for readers in Rockville, Maryland. Dozens of Free State politicos and candidates joined us for some informal conversations about state and local issues, and attendees had the opportunity to ask questions of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and rival candidate Doug Duncan (former Montgomery County Executive). Congressman John Delaney also dropped by and answered questions from readers. A special thanks again to Delaney and Progressive Maryland for sponsoring food at the event!

The Washington Post's Bill Turque attended our celebration and published a good summary of the remarks from the rival County Executive candidates Doug Duncan and incumbent Ike Leggett, which includes candidates' commentary on the Silver Spring Transit Center delays, marijuana decriminalization, and a proposal for a minimum wage hike in Montgomery County. Turque's write-up of the Maryland Juice party also includes coverage of an unexpected exchange of words involving Doug Duncan and Councilmembers George Leventhal and Roger Berliner that occurred during our Q&A (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: “Who’s accountable for this fiasco?” asked [Doug] Duncan, decrying the construction flaws and delays that have placed the [Silver Spring Transit Center] project more than two years behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars over budget.... “We need to hold someone accountable for this....”

Leggett, who appeared first, was not asked about the transit center. But he ended his stint by quizzing himself....  “I accept responsibility,” he said, contending that the delay was a product not of lax oversight....  I had a full-scale investigation into what some deemed to be a minor problem,” Leggett said. It was a not-so-subtle slap at general contractor Foulger-Pratt....

Questions from the audience drew a few nuggets. Talking about incarceration rates among young African Americans, Leggett said the state should long ago have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. He also said that while the state needed to step up and finance new construction to address public school overcrowding, MCPS leadership could have done more on its own to mitigate the impact of unprecedented enrollment growth....

Duncan said the county needed to be more assertive in securing money from Annapolis and “quit being the county that takes the leftovers....” He cautioned against the county going on its own to raise the minimum wage because it was “not an economic island....” Duncan said he wanted to change a sluggish political culture of “paralysis by analysis” that had taken hold in the Leggett years....

One bit of drama toward the end of Duncan’s Q-and-A was triggered by a pointed query from Council member George Leventhal (D-At-Large). Leventhal ... noted reports that Duncan was seeking a new slate of candidates to oust all council opponents. Leventhal asked how that was going.

“George has misquoted me,” Duncan replied, saying that he never said he wanted to oust all incumbents.... “I do think we need new faces on the council,” Duncan added. “This county council is known for their bickering, their fighting. We need a change.

But Duncan then recognized Council member Roger Berliner (D-District 1) as someone he would be happy to see continue. But when asked about Leventhal, Duncan said he had no comment..... “I thought we were on good terms,” Leventhal said, adding: “He doesn’t take criticism well.”
Several officials and candidates for office dropped by the event and/or made brief remarks, including: MoCo Councilmember Roger Berliner, MoCo Councilmember George Leventhal, newly appointed D15 Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, Liz Matory (D18 Delegate candidate), Shelly Hettleman (D11 Delegate candidate), Charlotte Crutchfield (D19 Delegate candidate), Clarence Lam (D12 Delegate candidate), Marc Korman (D16 Delegate candidate), Cheryl Kagan (D17 Senate candidate), Almina Khorakiwala (D16 MCDCC member), Hamza Khan (D15 MCDCC candidate) and more. Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick, The Washington Post's Bill Turque, and a rep from Congressman Chris Van Hollen's office also joined us for the shenanigans.

Below we provide more commentary and photos from the event:

Commentary from Congressman John Delaney
  • Delaney laid out a series of policy priorities including seeking to incentivize infrastructure investment in America and to mitigate risks in various areas
  • Delaney predicted that if U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi were to leave tomorrow, Rep. Steny Hoyer would likely be chosen as her replacement -- but if the leadership contest were held in a year, he declined to comment on what might happen
  • Delaney noted a tough political climate for immigration reform and stated that a desire to get something passed leads him to support the U.S. Senate bill on the topic: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good"
  • Delaney provided a nuanced response on whether to change social security policies, noting that raising the retirement age would negatively impact poor people

Below you can see some live Tweets from readers at the event, along with some photos that were posted to social media:

MoCo politico Kevin Gillogly posted the following photo of new candidates for Delegate in 2014 who did a quick round of Q&A:

Liz Matory (D18), Shelly Hettleman (D11), Charlotte Crutchfield (D19), Clarence Lam (D12), David Fraser-Hidalgo (D15)

Prolific MoCo political photographer Ed Kimmel also has an album of shots from the event up on Facebook:

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