Drinking New Beer Will Help Improve the Bay

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Mixing beer with the Chesapeake Bay may seem counterintuitive to cleaning it up, but Full Tilt Brewing co-owners and cousins Nick Fertig and Dan Baumiller created a new beer to help do just that.

The Bay IPA, new to the collection of craft beers from Baltimore’s Full Tilt, will donate about 10 percent of its profits to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Baumiller said.

While the company usually crafts its flavors to fit Baltimore themes like its Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout, Fertig and Baumiller said, they wanted to support a local organization and were inspired by the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates.

“We branched out a little from the Baltimore focus, but still stayed local with the Bay theme,” Fertig said. “We thought it’d be a great match.”

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization that collects money that it then redistributes to local communities toward cleanup and water quality improvement projects, said Molly Alton Mullins, director of communications for the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

“These two guys–they’re awesome. They love what they do: They both have full-time jobs and this is something they built because they wanted to do it,” Mullins said. “We couldn’t be happier to work with them.“

The label for the new citrus-flavored beer has the Full Tilt logo on top of the image from the license plate. In return for using the image, Full Tilt plans to supply Chesapeake Bay Trust with beer for its events and donate money throughout the year, Baumiller said.

“There’s no minimal donation–it depends on how much beer we make (or) sell,” Baumiller said. “The yearly donation from us is only likely to be a few thousand dollars…but the (Chesapeake Bay Trust) sees the greatest value in getting the word out.”

Baumiller said the Bay IPA is sold for the same $10 per six-pack price as other Full Tilt beers, reeling in less money for the company itself in order to donate and attach their name to the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s cause.

Jason Zink, owner of the Smaltimore bar in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, said that so far the beer has received a “great reaction” from patrons.

“It’s an easy sell to the customers because it’s a local beer made by people who live in the neighborhood, so it does real well,” Zink said.

Zink said he has not heard of other beers designed primarily for a nonprofit organization, and believes the Bay IPA will do well in its market as it gives back to the local community.

The Start of the Full Tilt Brewery

After Fertig spent six years serving in the U.S. Navy, Baumiller approached him with the idea of creating their own craft beer as a new hobby.

“We just started exploring and trying new things, new beers, and just found a love for craft beer,” Baumiller said. “You just get a curiosity of how is this done, how can I do this, and it kind of helps explain why you like one beer more than another by looking at the ingredients that go into it.”

“When we (first) did it, we just absolutely loved it. The smells you get from brewing a batch of beers is amazing–it’s like you’re in a bread factory or something,” Baumiller said.

In 2008 the two bought a $100 beer-making kit off eBay, and Baumiller said they still brew new test batches with the original home brewing kit out of his garage in Sykesville, Maryland. Full Tilt Brewing officially began in December 2012, and the Bay IPA marks their eighth beer.

Both 31 and Maryland natives, Baumiller said he and Fertig make a party out of the brewing process by having friends over to drink while they experiment with different flavors.

“Nick had a nickname donned on him by one of my friends as ‘Full Tilt Fertig’ due to his ‘pedal to the metal’ ways of doing things for the original genesis of the name,” Baumiller said. “But we just liked the sound of the name and it kind of embodied the way that we did things–we made strong and full flavored beers and went big with everything.”

Set for an official release date onboard the Spirit of Baltimore cruise on Feb. 21, Fertig said, cold temperatures and a frozen Baltimore Harbor delayed the formal release of the Bay IPA to March 21.

The beer is manufactured at the Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore. Baumiller and Fertig said that they are working on expanding their company into its own brewery location, as well as developing a new beer to be released Memorial Day weekend.

Baumiller works for the U.S. Department of Defense for acquisitions in Columbia, and Fertig works as a power plant operator for the Brandon Shores Generating Station outside Baltimore City, but, Baumiller said, they both plan to make brewing beer a full-time commitment.

“I think we want to be ready to devote ourselves fully, or totally into the brewery, but when that’s ready to happen–if we got the investment dollars tomorrow and were ready to break ground, we’d probably be pretty quick to making that our full-time job,” Baumiller said.

Besides the Bay IPA and Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout, Full Tilt Brewing also brews Baltimore Pale Ale, Fleet Street Raspberry Wheat, Patterson Pumpkin, Camden Cream, Hop Harbor and the Fully Tilted Baltimore Pale Ale. The Bay IPA is a part of Full Tilt Brewing’s permanent collection.

by Katelyn Newman

O’Malley Acts More and More Like a Candidate

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Speaking at the Brookings Institute on Wednesday, a soft-spoken Martin O’Malley resembled the policy wonks that populate Capitol Hill think tanks.

He talked about computer models, cited percentages and referenced Moneyball.

It’s one of the reasons the former Maryland governor’s potential run for president has been seen as a long shot in a Democratic primary against the air of inevitability that has surrounded Hillary Clinton since she stepped down as Secretary of State two years ago.

But just one day earlier, while Clinton addressed a week of controversy surrounding her use of a private email address while at the State Department, O’Malley the politician drew standing ovations from a room filled with firefighters by calling for a renewed commitment to collective bargaining.

O’Malley, who left office in January, has repeatedly said he is seriously considering running for president and that he plans to make a decision sometime this spring. More and more his actions look like those of a candidate.

In the last couple of weeks, O’Malley has visited the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, spoken at the legislative conference for the International Association of Fire Fighters, given a policy speech at the Brookings Institute and appeared on a morning cable show.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 8.45.35 AMThese events have all included questioning about the appropriateness of Clinton’s private email account, but O’Malley has refused to criticize the assumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Still, the past week has allowed O’Malley to showcase himself while some consider what would happen if Clinton were not in the race.

“[Clinton] hasn’t been handling things all that well and I think a lot of Democrats are starting to think that Obama beating her in 2008 wasn’t a fluke, that she might once again run as poorly managed a campaign as she did then,” said Todd Eberly, a professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

O’Malley echoed that sentiment during his appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday morning.

“Our history as a party is one of always wanting to have robust discussions about the better choices that will give our kids a better future,” O’Malley said. “Most years there is the inevitable front-runner and that inevitable front-runner is inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable.”

When Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md, announced her retirement this month, many thought O’Malley would take the opportunity to cut his losses and run for the Senate.

Instead, the day after Mikulski’s announcement, O’Malley said he would not be seeking the Senate seat. That was the day after The New York Times published a story about Clinton’s private email account.

“I think O’Malley just looked at that and said ‘I’m just going to keep going.’ Because if she does flame out, it’s wide-open season and a whole bunch of people who are polling down near 0 percent are suddenly going to be on folks’ radar screen,” Eberly said.

O’Malley has been polling poorly in many early states, registering in the low single digits in most polls.

The weekend of March 20, O’Malley will visit Iowa where, in February, a Quinnipiac poll found that 0 percent of likely Iowa caucus participants would pick O’Malley as their first choice and only 3 percent picked him as their second choice.

Eighty-four percent of those polled said they hadn’t heard enough about O’Malley to have either a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him.

To gain traction in Iowa, O’Malley needs to become more than another bland nice guy, said Cary Covington, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa.

“He needs a signature issue,” Covington said. “A popular song always has a hook you can’t get out of your head. He needs that hook.”

One issue that could resonate with Iowans, and helpfully channels the popular Elizabeth Warren, is limiting the influence of Wall Street, Covington said.

O’Malley visited New Hampshire last weekend, where he spoke with a local television station and at some small gatherings. At these events, according to reports, O’Malley spoke about limiting the influence of big money in politics and restoring the Glass-Steagall Act that required banks to keep their commercial and investment activities separate. That act was repealed in 1999 under President Bill Clinton.

“For 70 years we have prevented banks from gambling with our money and wrecking our economy and running roughshod over the common good that we share as a people,” he said on “Morning Joe” on Thursday.

If O’Malley really wants to go after Hillary Clinton for the nomination — as opposed to just running for name recognition or to earn a cabinet position — he has to draw more contrasts with her, starting with the email controversy, Covington said.

“He has to raise his profile and get sharp elbows,” Covington said. But he also has to avoid burning bridges.

On Wednesday at the Brookings Institute in Washington, where O’Malley was speaking about the CitiStat and StateStat initiatives he championed as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, O’Malley was asked again about email.

After answering a couple of questions about how he followed all applicable state laws as governor, including that emails do not have to be archived, he hadn’t mentioned Clinton once.

When asked directly about Clinton and Tuesday’s press conference to address the email controversy, O’Malley said he hadn’t watched. When pressed on why, he said, “Because I was working.”

Covington said that’s the right approach because O’Malley doesn’t want to come on too strong and get lumped in with the Republicans attacking Clinton, but should also point out that he always followed the rules.

Talking about his data-driven approaches to government on Wednesday, O’Malley called for those approaches to be applied to the federal government.

By Tim Curtis

Edwards Make Two in Maryland Democratic Senate Race

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Rep. Donna Edwards’ entrance into the Maryland Senate race signals the start of a potentially bruising primary season as Edwards and Rep. Chris Van Hollen begin the fight for endorsements and money.

Edwards, D-Fort Washington, officially entered the race Tuesday morning, announcing her candidacy in a YouTube video, and picked up an endorsement from former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, D, to help counter Van Hollen’s early momentum.

Several progressive groups, including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, had sought to draft Edwards into the race after Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced her retirement last week.

“She took on [former Rep.] Al Wynn in a primary and knocked him out, so she’s got a track record of being able to take on someone who’s a strong candidate and beat him,” said Todd Eberly, a professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, on Friday.

Edwards, 56, will have to go through another strong candidate in Van Hollen, D-Kensington, who announced his candidacy in an email to supporters last Wednesday.

Van Hollen, 56, has already received endorsements from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery County; and the entire Montgomery County Council, including County Executive Ike Leggett, D.

Van Hollen visited Annapolis on Tuesday and addressed the Maryland Senate.

“I think he certainly has an incentive to try to suggest that there’s a lot of support and momentum behind his candidacy,” said Michael Hamner, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. “And I think because there are other people within the party who could mount a strong challenge, he certainly has an incentive to try to reduce the chances that they’ll be successful and maybe also persuade some of them not to jump into the race.”

Van Hollen, with $1.7 million in cash-on-hand at the end of 2014, has a significant money advantage over Edwards to start the campaign. Edwards had just over $30,000 in her campaign account at the end of 2014.

But both candidates have strong abilities to raise funds — Van Hollen through the networks he’s built up since he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1990 and Edwards through the grass roots abilities of the progressive groups that support her campaign.

“Van Hollen has the name, has the respect of the Democratic Party within the state, as well as nationally–the chair of the congressional campaign committee, ranking member on the budget committee, long standing service in the Maryland legislature– and he’s got money,” Eberly said.

In running for the Senate seat, Edwards and Van Hollen will not be able to run for reelection to their House seats in 2016, creating instability in a Congressional delegation that has been one of the most stable in the nation.

Van Hollen was first elected in 2002 and Edwards won her seat in 2008.

Brown, D-Prince George’s, endorsed Edwards in a statement soon after her announcement and The Baltimore Sun reports that he is interested in running for her seat.

Del. Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery County, announced Monday that he would seek Van Hollen’s seat.

Other members of the delegation, including Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville; Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson; Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac; Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore; and Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville; are considering running for the Senate, which could create more openings.

The moves also will shake up Maryland’s leadership role in Congress. Van Hollen is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee and was considered a top candidate to replace Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Democratic leader whenever she decided to retire.

“I think in many respects, if you are part of the Democratic Party of Maryland, the idea of losing the party seniority within the Democratic party, just so they can take shot in a primary at a nomination only one of them can win, I mean that’s not something the Democrat party would be thrilled about,” Eberly said.

Other potential Democratic candidates include Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former NAACP President Ben Jealous and former Del. Heather Mizeur.

In her announcement Tuesday, Edwards pointed out that she would be the first African-American senator from Maryland, a state with 30 percent black residents according to 2013 census data.

“In a state that is becoming increasingly diverse, on its way to becoming majority-minority, that a Senate seat opens up and whoever wins is likely to be the senator in that seat for as long as they want, is it going to be a well-off white guy from Montgomery County, or is it going to be someone more representative of the diversity within the state?” Eberly asked.

“And in the end I think as far as the party is concerned, all they care about is who they think is going to be the best candidate in the general election,” he said. “But they do need to be concerned about the message it sends.”

Hamner thinks Van Hollen could still gain traction with the African-American community with the right message.

“Where is he on the key issues and what sort of case could he make relative to her case on those issues? I think that they both will have to have a pretty broad appeal to win, not just the nomination, but to win the seat,” he said.

By Tim Curtis

Hogan Once Again Grills University System Over Construction

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For the second consecutive meeting, the Board of Public Works on Wednesday criticized the University System of Maryland for vague and confusing language in requests for additional construction funding totaling more than $29 million, but eventually voted to approve the projects.

Two weeks after delaying a vote on funding four university construction projects, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and the other members on the board Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, both Democrats, once again found themselves raising the same questions.

All three expressed frustration over the University System’s convoluted explanations for additional funding for new buildings — at Salisbury University, Bowie State University, Universities at Shady Grove and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The University System came to the Board on Feb. 18 asking for a total of more than $29 million above what was approved in the original contracts for the four projects. The Board decided to delay voting on these projects until Wednesday because, they said, they were unsatisfied with the explanations for the requests.

University System of Maryland Associate Vice Chancellor for Real Property and Procurement James Salt, who was not present at the Feb. 18 meeting, and Joseph Vivona, the vice chancellor for administration and finance for the University System of Maryland, explained Wednesday that the additional costs were part of the appropriation awarded in the contract by the state and that these sorts of provisions are not abnormal.

Salt also said that, in addition to market changes, contractor miscalculations, especially with a new sciences building Bowie State, were primary reasons behind the need for more money.

Hogan on Wednesday railed at University System officials for offering what he characterized as many different and confusing explanations — presented at both meetings — regarding these projects rather than just providing a clear request.

“We want to move forward with these important projects for the University System, but we don’t want to allow this kind of process to happen in the future,” Hogan said. “We’re not satisfied with the explanation. We’re not satisfied with the process.”

Franchot also criticized the University System for requesting millions in additional funds without being able to clearly explain why.

“A murky presentation two weeks ago has gotten even murkier,” Franchot said.

Recently re-elected, Kopp also commented that such aggravating discussions about construction contracts reflect poorly on the institutions.

“You blow the credibility of the university and its process if people can’t understand (the school’s plans),” Kopp said.

Hogan, along with the rest of the board, eventually approved the projects after gaining more of an understanding of the requests, while university administrators said the additional costs would not affect the state budget. However, Hogan warned the University System that they must change their ways for future contracts.

“We’re never going to allow this in the future,” Hogan said. “So, we’re going to have to come up with a new process.”

The four approved projects are:

–A New Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing at Bowie State University. The new request, for an additional $16 million, means a 23 percent increase from an initial $70 million estimate. The facility will feature classrooms, lounges and research and computer labs in support of the natural sciences, mathematics and nursing departments. This project will mean the Wiseman Center and Crawford Science Center are demolished.

–A parking garage at the Shady Grove campus. Its cost rose from $15 million to $17 million. The garage would include approximately 700 spaces.

–A new Academic Commons library at Salisbury would contain space for quiet studying, research and special events, among other uses. The final cost came in at $100 million compared to the original projection of $90 million.

–Lastly, a new Engineering, Aviation, Computer and Mathematical Sciences Building at the Eastern Shore campus features classrooms, technology labs and television and radio studios among other uses. The estimated cost went from $69 million to $71 million.

The board was not so generous to the Maryland Department of Information Technology. After the board on Feb. 18 delayed a $20 million contract to Motorola regarding radio equipment for Maryland first responders, the contract was ultimately denied Wednesday.

The contract, totaling $19 million on Wednesday, would have provided increased funding to the $485 million communication contract the state has with Motorola. The department failed to account for this funding in its initial operating costs in the original contract, which Hogan said was “not acceptable.”

“I’m not adding $20 million more today because we forgot,” Hogan said, telling the department to find sufficient money for this cost within its current contract.

Franchot supported Hogan in voting against this contract while Kopp voted in favor of it.

Lastly, the state sold $518 million in tax exempt bonds at the board’s biannual bond sale, earning a net premium of $74 million. In addition, the state sold $365 million in tax exempt refund bonds with a net premium of $55 million. Tax exempt bonds are typically issued by local and state governments and are not subject to federal interest payments. The sale saved the state $22 million in debt service costs.

Kopp said the results serve the citizens of Maryland well knowing the state is a place to invest their money.

“The State’s taxpayers benefit from saving millions of dollars because of our strong AAA bond ratings and resultant lower interest rates,” Kopp said. “Overall, Maryland’s citizens benefit from the investment in Maryland’s schools, colleges, hospitals, prisons and cultural projects that are supported with bond proceeds.”

Maryland retained its AAA bond rating in February and is one of only 10 states that hold such a rating, Kopp said.

By Brian Marron
Capital News Service

Chris Van Hollen First to Throw Hat in for Mikulski’s Seat

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen told supporters in an email Wednesday that he would be running to fill retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat in 2016.

Van Hollen, D-Kensington, is the first candidate to enter the race and is considered an early favorite with a sizeable money advantage.

“I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great state of Maryland,” Van Hollen wrote in the email. “I am very much looking forward to the upcoming campaign and a healthy exchange of ideas.”

Van Hollen wrote that a more formal announcement would come later.

Van Hollen has nearly $1.7 million in cash on hand according to the Center for Responsive Politics, over $600,000 more than any other members of the Maryland congressional delegation.

Other delegation members have expressed some interest in running for the seat, including Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville; John Delaney, D-Potomac; and John Sarbanes, D-Towson.

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, is also considering running and progressive groups, like Democracy for America, are trying to draft her into the race.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend have said they are considering running. Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Rep. Elijah Cummings, former delegate and gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez are considered potential Democratic candidates.

Potential Republican candidates include Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. Bongino ran as the Republican nominee against Sen. Ben Cardin in 2012 and lost.

By entering the race, Van Hollen gives up his 8th District House seat after 2016 because he cannot run for two offices at the same time.

The Democratic primary to replace Van Hollen could also be crowded. State Sen. Jamie Raskin has already expressed interest in running and a number of Montgomery County Council members are considered to be potential candidates.

“Congressman Van Hollen has been an extraordinarily diligent congressman and a strong progressive leader for our district,” Raskin said. “I am actively exploring [running for Van Hollen’s seat].”

He noted victories he’s helped win in the Senate, such as marriage equality and the repeal of the death penalty and said he could bring the qualities that helped secure those victories, to the House of Representatives.

Van Hollen has served in the House since 2002 and is the ranking Democratic member of the House Budget committee. He was previously a member of the House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate.

“I knew Chris Van Hollen as a dedicated member of the House of Delegates and Maryland Senate,” said Maryland Senate President Mike Miller. “People who know him in Congress have selected him to leadership positions. …And in my opinion he would be an outstanding senator.”

State Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, said he expects Van Hollen will meet with legislators in Annapolis on Friday.

“He’s a former state legislator, former state senator, and he is widely admired here in Annapolis,” Feldman said. “I have no doubt he will be a top-tier candidate for that seat.”

“I think it’s fantastic. I think he would be an outstanding senator and I support him 110 percent,” said state Sen. Richard Madaleno, Jr., D-Montgomery. “If you look at his record, he’s accomplished so much whether he’s been in the majority or the minority.”

By Tim Curtis

Bill Requires 25 Percent of State’s Energy to be From Renewable Sources by 2020

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Businessmen, religious leaders and environmentalists pushed for the expansion of clean energy in Maryland at the Senate Finance Committee Tuesda

The bill, sponsored by state Senator Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, would increase the use of renewable energy to power the state. Known as the 2015 Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act, it would require 25 percent of Maryland’s energy to come from renewable sources, such as solar or wind power, by 2020.

The bill amends the state’s renewable energy commitment outlined in former Gov. Robert “Bob” Ehrlich’s 2004 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, which mandate 20 percent renewable energy use throughout the state by 2022.

Feldman said the new rules would be in line with a 2012 law mandating a 25 percent statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while spurring job creation and helping improve the economy.

“We have a lot of economic upside potential with renewable energy in the state,” including a financial boost from more investment in solar and wind energy, Feldman said. “People are concerned about our economy, and this is a place where we can be a national leader.”

The state currently draws 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources, mandated by Ehrlich’s law. Other states, including California and Minnesota, have higher renewable energy portfolio standards than the current Maryland law requires, Feldman said, and this bill would keep Maryland in line with the rest of the country.

Main objections to the bill during the hearing concerned the cost to low-income Marylanders of mandating clean energy sources.

If passed, monthly energy bills across the state of Maryland would see a $0.52 increase (in 2014 dollars) by 2020, according to a study conducted by Sustainable Energy Advantage LLC, an independent renewable energy consulting and advisory firm.

“(W)e need clean energy, (but) we need to not have people at the bottom of the food chain who can barely pay their bills — and who the rest of us have to assist…they just can’t afford it,” said state Senator Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County.

Tom Dennison, spokesman for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, said Tuesday that while he respected Feldman’s bill, it does not address all of the costs involved.

“Whether it’s 52 cents per month or whatever, this is on top of the existing subsidy on renewable energy,” Dennison said. He said he was concerned that the bill would pose too many additional costs for either his company or its customers.

Supporters of the bill said opponents refuse to take into account all the economic, environmental and health costs associated with continued use of fossil fuels, and how the benefits provided through increased clean energy use outweigh the increasing costs of energy bills.

“I think you need to have a bigger picture view of the costs, because the costs of fossil fuels are more than what we assume from our bill,” said Tom Landers, policy director for the Climate Change Action Network in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

“We are heartsick about how our energy use is hurting our neighbors, here at home and around the world,” said the Rev. Wolfgang Herz-Lane, Lutheran bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod. Herz-Lane joined 230 other religious leaders in signing a letter showing support for the bill “to restore the health of creation.”

Delegate William Frick, D-Montgomery, is sponsoring an identical bill in the House of Delegates. He said in the House Economic Matters committee meeting on Friday that now is the right time politically to take this action, as 69 percent of Marylanders support doubling the renewable portfolio standard.

By Katelyn Newman

Capital News Service

 

Retiring Mikulski Creates Political “Land Rush” in the State

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As Maryland’s senior Senator Barbara Mikulski prepares to finish up her last term in the U.S. Senate, politicians across the state are gearing up to run for her seat in what has been called a political “land rush.”

Sitting Maryland representatives in the U.S. Congress would have to give up their seats to run to replace Mikulski, a Democrat, who announced Monday she would not run in 2016 after 38 years in Congress.

Both Reps. John Delaney, D-Potomac, and Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger, D-Cockeysville, have confirmed they are planning on exploring a campaign, while Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville, and Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, both said they were giving the run “serious consideration.”

As Congressional seats become vacant, they tend to be filled from the ranks of the General Assembly. Those seats would, in turn, need to be filled.

“This is going to affect the entire political food chain in Maryland,” political commentator Blair Lee IV said. “Every 20 or 30 years, it’s like musical chairs — some are sitting down and some are standing up when the music stops playing.”

“There’s going to be a lot of new faces and new jobs,” Lee said. “2016 in Maryland is going to be historic, not a boring election year.”

Lee said if he had to put money on a candidate, he would put it on Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington.

For the last 30 years, both U.S. senators have come from Baltimore, which, Lee said, has created a power shift that will favor candidates beyond that area.

He also emphasized gender and race as important factors, saying that Edwards, as an African-American woman, checks off a lot of boxes that make her a potentially winning candidate.

“How long can you tell African-Americans it’s not their turn yet?” Lee said.

Edwards’s office on Tuesday declined comment on whether she would run for the Senate seat.

But for Barry Rascovar, a political commentator and former journalist for the Washington Post, it will be the incumbents and recognizable names who will have the best shot at filling Mikulski’s big shoes.

“I think those are the ones that are going to be polling the best,” Rascovar said. “There will be other names in the race, but I don’t think they’ll be the favorites.”

Many Maryland congressional members may be considering running at this moment, but once one of them announces they’re officially running, the others will probably back off, Rascovar said.

Rascovar’s initial favorite for the position was former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, who announced Tuesday morning that he would not seek Mikulski’s spot in the Senate. O’Malley is exploring a run for U.S. President.

With O’Malley out, Rascovar named Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, as the favorite to run. Van Hollen did not return messages left at his office for comment on his plans, and neither did Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, and Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville.

Mileah Kromer, a professor of political science at Goucher College, said this senatorial race could show just how Democratic Maryland is — a state that boasts a two-to-one Democratic majority over Republicans — despite the recent win by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

“It’ll be interesting to see if Hogan does a good job and wins public approval, if that can help carry a Republican into the Senate,” Kromer said.

But since 2016 will be a presidential year, Lee said, he expects Marylanders to vote as a strong blue state, since presidential elections tend to turn out the African-American communities and the youth vote, which are both largely Democratic.

Rascovar said that the “land rush” is an unlikely possibility.

“These people have worked hard to win their congressional seats, and they’re not going to give it up lightly,” he said. “It’s probably a long shot that we’re going to have a stampede of congressional incumbents giving up their seats to get a shot at the Senate.”

But deciding to run for Senate is more complicated than a single-focused “land rush,” Kromer said, because these politicians’ radars span beyond one office.

“It’s not just a Senate race, but also a governor’s race,” Kromer said. “So it’s a land rush not all at once, but over the next four years.”

By AnjaliShastry and Grace Toohey

Annapolis: Trio of Measures on Data-Gathering Presented at House Economic Matters Hearing

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A trio of snooping-related bills dominated the agenda at a Maryland House Economic Matters Committee hearing Wednesday.

Delegate Will Smith, D-Montgomery, is sponsoring a bill that would require businesses to display a sign that clearly states that it is using consumers’ wireless Internet or cell phone signals to track their shopping habits.

Much like Internet browser activity can trigger related advertisements, stores are tracking consumer behavior to help figure out what customers want, Smith said.

Smith made it clear that the bill does not prohibit the use of this technology; it just requires that businesses tell consumers that they are being monitored.

Not abiding by this bill would violate the Maryland Consumer Protection Act as a deceptive or unfair trade practice. Offenders would be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense, and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses, and, since a violation would be considered a misdemeanor, up to one year in prison.

According to Smith, the only way consumers can opt out of such technology would be to turn off their cell phones, which the signs would indicate.

Other legislation presented Wednesday also relates to consumer rights.

A bill presented by Delegate Rick Impallaria, R-Harford and Baltimore Counties, would prohibit a telephone call between a business and a consumer from being recorded, unless the employee notifies the customer that the call may be recorded, gives an option to accept or decline a recorded call, and clearly obtains consent. Maryland law requires two-party consent for recorded conversations, yet the common current opt out for customers unwilling to have their calls recorded is to hang up and use other methods to fix their issue, according to Impallaria.

“People should have the ability to opt out of a recorded conversation,” Impallaria said. “It should be the other party’s decision whether they want to hang up and say, ‘We don’t want your business anymore.’”

Sean Looney, vice president of state government affairs with Comcast in Maryland, protested the bill, saying recorded phone calls help the company ensure their employees are properly serving customers and it helps assure customers that if there is a mistake with their bill, audio evidence exists that can prove it.

For customers who choose not to have their call recorded, options include only traditional mail and email, which lead to longer wait times for customers and more work for Comcast employees, according to Looney.

“This bill just creates more problems than it solves,” Looney said.

Other legislation presented to the committee Wednesday:

–Delegate Susan McComas, R-Harford, presented a bill extending the term of a license from two years to three years for agencies to provide private detective services. Current two-year fees are $400 for a firm and $200 for an individual; three-year licenses would cost the same, saving private investigators about 33 percent annually.

–Junk and scrap metal dealers would not be allowed to purchase shopping carts, flatbed carts or other similar devices marked by a business without its approval. They would also be banned from purchasing copper or other metal piping stolen from a house, according to a bill presented by Delegate Jill Carter, D-Baltimore. Carter said the bill acts as a deterrent for thieves and holds the buyers of scrap metal accountable.

 

By Brian Marron

Governor Announces Initiatives To Combat Heroin and Opioid Crisis

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced four initiatives to combat the state’s heroin epidemic Tuesday afternoon, including the formation of an inter-agency council and a task force, the distribution of overdose-prevention drugs and the allocation of fund for addict rehabilitation.

During his news conference in the Governor’s Reception Room of the State House, a visibly emotional Hogan emphasized treatment and prevention for heroin and opioid addicts, and recounted a cousin’s death from an overdose.

“Addiction is a disease and we will not be able to just arrest our way out of this crisis,” Hogan said.

In 2013, there were 464 heroin-related overdose deaths in Maryland, Hogan said, which was 77 more than the number of homicide deaths in the state that year. The problem is growing, he said, as the preliminary number of heroin deaths in 2014 is on track to be 20 percent more than in 2013.

Hogan then signed two executive orders creating an inter-agency council and a task force, both to be chaired by Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, that will bring together experts in substance abuse, law enforcement, public health officials, education experts and first responders.

“Having the right people on the advisory committees, to be able to teach people how taking a treatment approach versus a criminal justice approach is really important,” said Lynn Albizo, director of public affairs for The Maryland Addictions Directors Council, which is an association of health professionals who advocate for quality addictions services. The Council’s Executive Director, Tracey Myers-Preston, is part of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force.

His third initiative will be to distribute Evzio, a drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration that is used to prevent fatal heroin overdoses, throughout the state. Pharmaceutical company Kaleo donated the 5,000 units of Evzio to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Rutherford said, and it can be administered by anyone through a training program.

Daniel Watkins, Anne Arundel Medical Center’s nursing coordinator for drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Pathways, said that about 50 percent of their patients are heroin users. Though, he said, the Evzio donation will save lives, they will last “probably not too long.”

Hogan also announced his plan to allocate half a million dollars from a federal grant to expand reentry programs for people leaving prison, in hopes of reducing recidivism. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention will allot the funds to correctional facilities across the state.

The extent of the heroin epidemic became evident to Hogan and Rutherford on the campaign trail while listening to Marylanders’ concerns, the governor said.

“Everywhere we went we were saddened how just under the surface of every community, heroin was ruining lives,” Hogan said.

From 2010 to 2013 the number of heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 95 percent, Albizo said, and she hopes the attention on the issue will continue to grow.

Acting Superintendent of Maryland State Police Colonel William Pallozzi said he is on board with the governor’s multi-faceted approach to solving this issue.

“Law enforcement has been in the business of arresting most of these people for years,” Pallozzi said. “We need to do more than that, it’s evolving.”

Continuing to change the stigma and treatment options for addicts is first on Daniel Brannon’s agenda. The president and CEO of Right Turn IMPACT, a provider of recovery services in Baltimore, Brannon said he had been an active addict for more than 33 years.

He began using drugs at age 10, and has been in and out of prison five times, he said. He has been sober since 2006, and said he has committed his life to helping addicts break their habits and maintain a lifestyle of sobriety.

“I’m living proof that addicts do get clean, we do recover,” Brannon said at the news conference. “We as a community need to do everything we can to help save lives.”

Capital News Service