Thursday, January 30, 2014

JUICE: Beyer vs. Sen. Madaleno, Delaney for Gov, Attack on Purple Line, Folding, Domestic Violence in 2014

Below Maryland Juice provides a round-up of news items of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: DANA BEYER ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN AGAINST D18 STATE SENATOR RICH MADALENO - This morning two-time D18 Delegate candidate Dana Beyer announced a campaign for State Senate through a column on The Huffington Post (excerpt below):
DANA BEYER (VIA HUFFINGTON  POST): Today I am announcing my next campaign for the betterment of my community in Montgomery County.

We are ready for progress. For too long, hardworking Marylanders have waited for economic fairness and equal opportunity. We have asked our elected officials to help bring better jobs to our neighborhoods, build stronger schools for our children, fix our roads and infrastructure and make quality health care an affordable reality.

We are ready to move forward, and that's why I'm declaring my candidacy for the Maryland Senate.

I am a retired surgeon, a mother of two and a progressive activist. I've spent my entire life fighting for social justice and equal opportunity in our community and around the globe. I'm proud of my track record of success on progressive issues, and now I'm seeking the opportunity to serve you in public office....
The Washington Blade's Michael Lavers also covered Beyer's announcement and carried interesting commentary from LGBT advocates in Maryland (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: ... Beyer, 61, announced her campaign slightly more than a week after Madaleno introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.... Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, which endorsed Madaleno’s re-election campaign late last year, told the Blade the Montgomery County Democrat’s “strong record of accomplishments go beyond the LGBT communities....” Beyer is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors.

Lisa Polyak, who stepped down as chair of the Equality Maryland board in 2012, also defended Madaleno. “Although Dana has been a tireless advocate for transgender equality locally and nationally, she doesn’t possess the seniority or relationships that can advance priorities of LGBT citizens of Maryland,” Polyak told the Blade.

Evans said having another LGBT candidate “challenging our endorsed candidate” will divert the “limited resources that we earmarked to help our friends in other races” who supported Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in 2012. She also described Beyer’s announcement that comes less than a week before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on the trans rights bill as “ironic.”

“Some might say the timing of her announcement only serves to distract and potentially diminish our chances of passing the bill,” said Evans. “Since this is our top legislative priority in 2014 and transgender Marylanders should not have to continue to wait for inclusion in the state anti-discrimination laws, Equality Maryland hopes it does not...." Beyer would become the first trans person elected to the Maryland Legislature if she wins in November.
Meanwhile, Sen. Madaleno sent the following email blast today discussing his legislative priorities for the current Annapolis session (excerpt below):
RICH MADALENO: Throughout my legislative career, I have focused on the needs of Maryland’s working families.  This year is no different.  Below are some of the important initiatives that I am helping to lead in the General Assembly.

MINIMUM WAGE ... As a co-sponsor and strong supporter of legislation recently introduced by Governor O’Malley that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 for Maryland employees, I am proud to stand with working families for whom this raise is long overdue....

EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT ...  In his State of the Union address, President Obama additionally announced his support of a key poverty fighting tool that I have been working to expand here in Maryland over the past several years: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)....

RETIREMENT SECURITY This year I am working with AARP, SEIU, and small business leaders to advance innovative legislation that would establish a state-based retirement savings plan for workers without access to employer-sponsored plans....

PAID SICK LEAVE ... As an extension of my “working families” agenda, this session I am proud to co-sponsor the Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act, allowing workers in Maryland to earned a limited number of paid sick days....
HEALTHY MARYLAND INITIATIVE ... Last but not least, this year I am a primary sponsor of important legislation that would raise millions of dollars to expand health care access to low-income families in Maryland by increasing tobacco taxes by $1 per cigarette pack.....

JUICE #2: FREDERICK NEWS-POST WEIGHS IN FAVORABLY ON POTENTIAL GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN BY REP. JOHN DELANEY - The editorial board of The Frederick News-Post today issued a piece ruminating on a potential gubernatorial run by Congressman John Delaney. Though the piece isn't quite an endorsement, it seems to come close (excerpt below):
FREDERICK NEWS-POST: ... Delaney, Maryland’s 6th District congressman, was playing his cards close to the vest. While he strongly suggested that he would seek a return to Congress next year, speculation is mounting that he may jump into Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. The congressman’s refusal to categorically rule out a bid for the Governor’s Mansion adds to the speculation.....

If Delaney does decide to join that race, he could be a formidable contender. Each of the three principal candidates — Attorney General Douglas Gansler, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur — has some issues that could work in Delaney’s favor....

We’re not here to plug Delaney as a candidate or to urge him to enter this race. However, we do believe that he would be a good addition to the lineup and give Maryland Democrats more choice in the June primary. He might also have wider overall appeal than Brown, Gansler or Mizeur due to his entrepreneurial and business experience....

JUICE #3: PATCH.COM LAYS OFF HUNDREDS OF JOURNALISTS  //  WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR LOCAL POLITICAL COVERAGE? - has been operating numerous micro-news sites in Maryland, but Breitbart reported yesterday that the publication eliminated hundreds of journalists without warning (excerpt below):
BREITBART: laid off hundreds of employees Wednesday morning, without apparent warning, meaning that most of the network's local websites will cease to produce news, local or otherwise. The decision was made by Hale Global, the "turnaround" company that bought from AOL earlier this month.... It failed to live up to its early commercial promise, however, and its formal end may be near....
While I am disappointed to see another local news outlet going under, I have been encouraged to see ramped up activity and coverage from non-traditional media sites like Bethesda Magazine, Bethesda Now, Maryland Reporter, Center Maryland, The Quinton Report, Red Maryland and others. But one problem facing local political and policy coverage is that many of us (including Maryland Juice) do not have adequate revenue streams to do anything but sporadic or volunteer-driven reporting. Meanwhile, mainstream media publications that I read frequently (like The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and The Capital Gazette) are increasingly adding pay-walls and subscriber-only access for their coverage. I'm not sure what this all means for the future of local political news....

JUICE #4: CHERRI BRANSON APPOINTED TO VALERIE ERVIN'S MOCO COUNCIL SEAT // PLUS: BOE MEMBER CHRIS BARCLAY & OTHERS GEARING UP FOR PRIMARY - As we predicted, MoCo attorney Cherri Branson was selected to fill Valerie Ervin's vacant seat on the County Council. Maryland Juice received the following press release from the Council announcing the decision (excerpt below):

Montgomery County Council Appoints Cherri Branson as New Councilmember for District 5
ROCKVILLE, Md., January 28, 2014 — The Montgomery County Council today appointed Cherri Branson by acclamation as the new Councilmember for District 5.  Ms. Branson will succeed former Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who resigned from the Council on Jan. 3 to become executive director of the Center for Working Families. Ms. Branson will complete the unexpired term, which ends on December 1, 2014.

“Cherri Branson has outstanding civic and professional experience, and the Council looks forward to her service,” said Council President Craig Rice. “We were fortunate to have many excellent applicants, and our decision was a difficult one. We deeply appreciate their willingness to serve the community.”

A graduate of Vassar College (B.A.), Indiana University School of Law (J.D.), and Emory University School of Law (LL.M.), Ms. Branson has held key staff positions in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1989. She is now Chief Counsel for Oversight on the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  She has been president of the African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County. The Council appointed her as a member of the County’s Commission on Redistricting in 2011. She has also served as a member of the Charter Review Commission.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Montgomery County Council,” said Ms. Branson. “I am familiar with many of the key issues facing the County and the Council, and I will work quickly to learn more. I pledge to effectively represent the residents of District 5—and all the people of Montgomery County....”
Given that Cherri Branson has agreed not to run for the District 5 Council seat in the June Democratic Primary, Bethesda Magazine's Lou Peck provided an update on the status of the looming primary battle (excerpt below):
BETHESDA MAGAZINE: As the County Council Tuesday unanimously appointed congressional aide Cherri Branson as a “caretaker” to serve out the remaining 10 months of the term of former Councilmember Valerie Ervin, the maneuvering to win election to the seat for a full four-year term beginning next December intensified.

Christopher Barclay, a member of the county’s Board of Education since 2006, said this week he is running in the June primary for the Democratic nod for the council seat in District 5.... Meanwhile, another well-known officeholder from that area, two-term state Delegate Tom Hucker, is said by sources to be leaning strongly toward giving up his current position to run for the council....

But, in advance of the Feb. 25 filing deadline, at least five candidates are expected to seek the “long-term” District 5 seat, with Barclay and Hucker joined by Evan Glass, chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board; Terrill North, vice president of Impact Silver Spring, a group formed to provide support services to the community; and Jeff Thames, who heads an organization that seeks to provide opportunities to former prisoners. Thames formally filed for the seat last week....
As the Democratic Primary field develops, Cherri Branson is getting settled into her temporary Council appointment. She sent the following email blast out yesterday (excerpt below):
CHERRI BRANSON: I am honored and humbled that the County Council has selected me to serve you as the new District 5 Councilmember.  I am committed to delivering the high level of service that the residents of District 5 expect and deserve. I thank the councilmembers for the tremendous confidence that each of them has placed in me.

I am familiar with many of the key issues facing the County and the Council, and I will work quickly to learn even more. I pledge to effectively represent the residents of District 5 - and all the people of Montgomery County.

I also want to recognize former Councilmember Valerie Ervin for her years of dedicated service to Montgomery County. I plan to continue the work she started on the County Council seven years ago, but I will do it in my own way.

There are many exciting issues as we move into 2014 including a full capital improvements budget for the next six years, the fiscal year 2015 operating budget, and the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan....

JUICE #5: TOWN OF CHEVY CHASE HIRES BROTHER OF KEY REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN TO FIGHT PURPLE LINE - Maryland Juice previously noted that The Town of Chevy Chase was debating whether to spend hundreds of thousands of local tax dollars to fight the Purple Line. The Washington Post's Katherine Shaver has a follow-up to the story, noting that the Town has hired the brother of a key Republican Congressman to battle a top transportation priority for Montgomery & Prince George's Counties (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: One of the lawyers hired by the Town of Chevy Chase to evaluate potential legal challenges to the Purple Line light-rail project is the brother of a key congressional committee chairman, leading some transit advocates to question whether the town is trying to buy political influence.

Robert L. Shuster, an attorney with the firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, is the brother of Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The town hired the law firm in December on a monthly basis, so far paying a total of $40,000 for two months. The town council is scheduled to vote next month on whether to award an 18-month legal contract for $360,000....

Ben Ross, a longtime Purple Line advocate and former president of Action Committee For Transit, said “The whole thing stinks....” Tracey Johnston, another Purple Line advocate, said of the Shuster name, “If nothing else, someone answers your phone call. In Washington, that’s your first goal....”

The Maryland Transit Administration’s plans to build a 16-mile Purple Line between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is at a critical point as the state tries to find a way to cover the $2.2-billion construction costs.... Even more important is the state’s bid for $900 million in highly competitive federal construction grants, which state officials have said are necessary to cover about half the costs. Maryland transit planners have said they expect to hear in February whether the Federal Transit Administration will recommend the Purple Line for that money....

JUICE #6: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES TAKE PROMINENCE IN ANNAPOLIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION WITH ELECTION YEAR OPPORTUNITIES - In the current Annapolis legislative session, it is difficult to miss the growing momentum for increased protection for victims of domestic violence. The Associated Press reported this week on a trio of bills that Governor O'Malley is pushing to address the issue (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS (VIA CAPITAL GAZETTE): ... Brandy King, of Sykesville, told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that the current law does not enable her to get a final protective order against her ex-husband, who was convicted of second-degree assault in 2004 for physically abusing her.

One of the measures before legislators would change the law by adding second-degree assault to the list of crimes for which a person can obtain a final protective order. It also would require that an abuser only be sentenced to at least five years in prison, as opposed to serving at least five years before the victim can obtain a permanent final protective order....

Another measure would make it easier for victims to obtain a final peace order or final protective order by reducing the standard of evidence needed to get one.... Maryland is the only state in the nation that uses the higher standard of proof for final protective orders. A third measure would enable courts to impose an additional five years in prison on someone who commits domestic violence in front of a child.
As The Washington Post noted in an editorial supporting the bills, the domestic violence efforts are (thankfully) being heavily aided by election-year politics (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Maryland has long had the dubious distinction of being the only state that imposes a rigid burden of proof for victims of domestic abuse to receive a civil protection order. Past efforts to change the outdated law never got very far in a hidebound legislature, and advocates became so discouraged that they didn’t even raise the matter in recent years....

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and a candidate for attorney general, is sponsoring legislation that would establish a more reasonable burden of proof for victims seeking protection orders.... Mr. Frosh expressed confidence that the reform will pass in the Senate, but the real obstacles lie in the House of Delegates, notably its Judiciary Committee. It killed similar legislation when it was last proposed in 2010. Not even the wrenching testimony of a woman whose three children were drowned after she couldn’t obtain a protective order against her estranged husband could convince the committee of the need for change. The callous, if not hostile, treatment of Amy Castillo brought justifiable criticism to the committee and its chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s), but it remains to be seen whether lawmakers have learned from their mistakes.

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery), who led the effort to kill the bill four years ago, told us he might be open to the change and has some ideas for “compromise” that he plans to discuss with Mr. Frosh. Perhaps not coincidentally, Mr. Simmons is seeking election to the Senate and is locked in a primary battle with former delegate Cheryl Kagan in which women and domestic violence issues are sure to be a focus....
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BECOMES HOT ELECTION-YEAR ISSUE: Indeed, Delegate Luiz Simmons is now co-sponsoring all three domestic violence bills, alongside House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller. Additionally, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown (a candidate for Governor) is also getting behind the efforts. Brown issued the following press release this week (excerpt below):


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 28, 2014) - Today the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held hearings on three Administration bills (SB333, SB334 and SB337) designed to improve protections for victims of domestic violence.

“Over the last seven years, we’ve worked together to reduce domestic assaults by 20%, but it’s not enough until we can say that all Marylanders are safe from domestic violence,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. “By working together to pass legislation that makes it easier for victims to obtain final peace and protective orders, we will create a safer environment for all Marylanders. Additionally, by increasing penalties for abusers who commit acts of domestic violence in the presence of kids, we'll send a strong message that the safety of our children is always our top priority."

Since 2007, Lt. Governor Brown, who leads the Administration’s efforts to reduce domestic violence, has worked with lawmakers, stakeholders, law enforcement, and domestic violence and sexual assault advocates to enact legislation which contributed to a 20% decrease in domestic violence assaults and a 32% decrease in the number of women and children that have died from domestic violence over the last seven years. The Administration's 2014 domestic violence package builds upon this effort to eliminate domestic violence in our communities....


JUICE #7: ANTHONY BROWN TO MISS TONIGHT'S GUBERNATORIAL DEBATE TO BE WITH AILING FATHER - Maryland's Democratic gubernatorial candidates are scheduled to debate tonight at Montgomery County's Leisure World retirement community:
Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Leisure World's Ballroom in Clubhouse 1
3700 Rossmoor Blvd, Silver Spring, MD
The event tonight will proceed with Del. Heather Mizeur and Attorney General Doug Gansler, but unfortunately, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown has been called out of town to be with his ailing father. The Baltimore Sun reported on the development:
BALTIMORE SUN: Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown canceled plans to testify in favor of the O’Malley administration’s domestic violence bills Tuesday in order to be with his ailing father in New York. The lieutenant governor’s office said Dr. Roy Brown, 89, has been moved from a hospital to hospice care. 
Brown, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, is expected to remain with him in New York, a spokesman said.... Brown's running mate Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is not likely to stand in as a surrogate at this week's debate at Leisure World in Silver Spring, according to Brown's campaign.

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