Maryland makes big mistakes

With a vote in the House of Delegates, the state of Maryland removed the ultimate punishment and allowed criminals to live out the rest of their lives in prison, at taxpayer expense. Two House Republicans split from the pack in the 82-56 vote, joining one GOP Senator in listening to the siren song of those who would mistakenly believe our society becomes more civil with the punishment’s repeal, forgetting that knowingly committing a heinous, premeditated crime is supposed to come with the realization one would forfeit their right to life in doing so. Nothing like giving a hardened criminal animal free reign to kill a corrections officer – after all, what now does he have to lose?

Perhaps the one saving grace in all this was that the false flag amendment which would have made this an appropriations bill and not subject to referendum was stripped out, so it appears to me that this bill could be placed on the 2014 ballot with many of the same people who foolishly voted for it.

Meanwhile, in this age of austerity when hard-working families have to watch their pennies and learn to do with less, the House also passed Governor O’Malley’s bloated budget by a 101-36 vote. By those tallies, it’s obvious that at least three Republicans have turned their back on fiscal conservatism and must believe the state will continually be a spigot for goodies, courtesy of the taxpayer. I wouldn’t expect the O’Malley budget to fail as the bulk of Maryland continues to vote against its best interests and sends more big-spending liberal Democrats to Annapolis, but I would hope for at least a united front of Republicans – there should have been at most 98 votes for the bill, and I’ll be interested to hear the excuses when those Republicans are called out on the carpet. A vote for an O’Malley budget pretty much exhausts my 20 percent of slack I’m willing to grant.

Read more here.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley presses lawmakers for handgun licenses for residents

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will urge state lawmakers on Wednesday to pass legislation requiring residents to obtain a license before purchasing a handgun, but Second Amendment advocates hope to drown out his message.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, will testify before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in favor of his bill, which would also ban assault weapons, limit magazine capacities to 10 rounds and require prospective gun buyers to complete a safety course and pay a $100 application fee.

However, gun-rights advocates will descend upon Annapolis to rally against a bill that they say tramples on gun owners’ rights and won’t stop criminals who carry illegal guns.

“The overriding problem with the governor’s bill is that it does little to address the bad guys with the guns,” said Delegate Michael D. Smigiel Sr., Cecil Republican, who said rally organizers are expecting 1,000 to 3,000 people. “It deals with ways of curtailing law-abiding citizens from being able to exercise their full Second Amendment rights.”

Mr. O’Malley proposed his legislation last month in an effort to fight gun violence and prevent incidents similar to last year’s deadly shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.

While requiring a permit to carry a handgun in public is the norm throughout most of the U.S., only nine states currently require a license or permit to purchase a handgun, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Read more here.

Lack of Depth in Salisbury Maryland Mayoral Race

The first press shots across the bow by Salisbury mayoral challenger Joe Albero came in a slickly produced press release decrying incumbent Jim Ireton for…not showing up at a boxing event.

When I saw the headline “Albero Supports Youth Sports Program” my first thought was, okay, where is he going to get the money to pay for it? Instead, the thin gruel I was subjected to went like this:

Salisbury mayoral candidate Joe Albero attended Saturday’s “Warriors of the Ring” event at the Main Street Gym. The event was in support of Main Street Gym’s youth boxing program. Albero and his wife Jennifer, along with other local businesspersons such as John Robinson and Danny Burt, were sponsors of Saturday’s event.

Albero stated, “The work that Hal Chernoff has done with our local youth is phenomenal! Boxing is a great sport which instills the values of hard work and discipline. These are the same traits which will help these young people succeed as adults.”

Albero lamented the absence of his opponent, incumbent mayor Jim Ireton. “I’m sorry that Jim wasn’t able to be here tonight. We were both asked to participate in tonight’s event. Regrettably, Jim felt that campaigning was more important than showing support for this great program and our area youth.”

Both candidates had been invited to participate in Saturday’s event. Ireton declined, stating that he was too busy campaigning for re-election.

So Jim Ireton decided not to show up at a boxing match in favor of “campaigning,” yet his opponent makes a campaign issue out of it. I think I’d be more worried if Ireton didn’t show up at a mayoral forum.

Read more here.

What’s the matter with Maryland?

As the clock struck midnight on sine die, the adjournment of the Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session, the traditional shouts of joy, smiles, and ticker tape parade were noticeably absent from the State House. Instead, confusion, turmoil and dysfunction filled each office and corridor in and around Annapolis. The reason: failure to meet the only constitutional duty the Maryland legislature and governor have — to balance the state budget.

Petty political games, tax hikes and gambling held them up from performing the work of the people, the mainstream media said. But the real missing piece in Maryland’s legislative equation was the leader of our state, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

O’Malley is running for president. He is a second-term governor and chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. He is also willing to do anything, short of jumping into I-95 traffic, to garner national media attention. Between his appearances on “Morning Joe” and “Face the Nation,” O’Malley appears to have forgotten about hardworking taxpayers here in Maryland.

Since his re-election in 2010, O’Malley has mentally checked out of the state, using our annual legislative session not to govern Maryland, but as a soapbox for national causes. This year was no different. While most Marylanders still feel like they’re in the Great Recession and want serious economic reforms, O’Malley used the first few weeks of the session to push gay marriage — an obvious ploy to keep up with 2016 rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., who passed it last year. Days after the bill signing, he traveled to South Carolina, where he bashed Mitt Romney at a Democratic Party event in Myrtle Beach.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders from his own party began to openly grumble about his lack of participation back home. O’Malley’s carelessness was apparent when he continued to advocate for an extremely unpopular gas tax hike even after he was told by both House Speaker Michael Busch, D, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D, that it was dead on arrival.

O’Malley also failed to manage the priorities in both the state Senate and House. After it was clear legislative leaders weren’t willing to compromise on the budget, O’Malley was too disengaged to force them to the bargaining table.

The final result is embarrassing. The governor was too busy running for president to accomplish the one thing he was hired to do: balance the budget. This turn of events begs the question: If he can’t even manage a legislature in Annapolis, where members of his own party outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1, how could he possibly handle the intensely partisan United States Congress?

Read more here.