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The distinct odor of marijuana

gavel2The Maryland legislature has now decriminalized the possession of less than 10 ounces of marijuana. However, use of the odor of marijuana is still used by the police in making arrests, as was explored by a divided panel from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court in a case called Rasherd Lewis v. State of Maryland.

The majority opinion indicates that Lewis was convicted of wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, after his motion to suppress the handgun from evidence on 4th amendment unreasonable search and seizure grounds was denied by the trial judge.

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Rockville lists priorities for 2019 legislature

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdROCKVILLE — Still six months before the Maryland legislative session begins, the Rockville Mayor and City Council are already getting their priorities for the 2019 session straight.

Among the top issues for the City discussed at Monday night’s meeting were local control over small-cell antennas, changing Maryland to an open-primary state, and funding for infrastructure projects.

The discussion was the first step for the City to get its priorities in line before the 2019 legislative session. Rockville is a member of the Maryland Municipal League, which lobbies in Annapolis on behalf of cities and towns, and is the organization that will represent the City’s priorities in the 2019 legislative session.

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New faces for Montgomery County legislative delegation as two incumbents lose their seats

  • Published in Local

The Montgomery County delegation in the Maryland General Assembly will have at least 10 new legislators heading to Annapolis for the 2019 legislative session.

Of the 32 Democrats who represent the County in the state’s legislative body, two incumbents, Del. Marice Morales (District 19) and Del. Shane Robinson (District 39), lost their party’s nomination in Tuesday’s primary election after being successfully overtaken by challengers.

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Maryland passes bump stock ban

gavel2 1 Among the gun control issues raised by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas was a move to ban “bump stocks” which increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons. 

The Maryland Legislature, among several gun measures, enacted and the governor signed Senate Bill 707 to address guns containing a “Rapid Fire Trigger Activator.”

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Annapolis legislators say session productive so far

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagWith votes taking place on the House and Senate floors in the final weeks of the 2018 Maryland legislative session in Annapolis, two members of Montgomery County’s delegation are satisfied with their accomplishments so far.

“I think we managed to do a lot of legislation that directly benefits our constituents, everything from … firearms to the environment to economic development,” said Del. Kirill Reznik (D-District 39) who represents parts of Germantown and Montgomery Village.

Sen. Susan Lee (D-District 16), who represents Bethesda and Potomac, echoed Reznik’s comments saying “I think we got a lot done so far.”

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Advocacy groups make final push as session winds down

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagAs the 2018 Maryland legislative session enters its final days, state advocacy groups are making a final push for the passage of legislation.

“While there are a few bills still alive that we’re still supporting, unfortunately most of the major environmental legislation this year was either voted down or amended down into a non-sensitive form,” said Elaine Lutz, staff attorney for the Maryland office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an organization which advocates for the health of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waterways.

Lutz said the CBF’s primary focus during this session was strengthening the Forest Conservation Act, which she said designates certain areas in the state as priority forests and calls for them to be preserved, but provides few specific criteria or guidelines towards accomplishing that goal.

“We are seeing the loss of some of our best contiguous forests,” Lutz said. “The legislation we introduced this year would have provided specific, transparent criteria for preserving the forests and reforestation requirements, but after opposition from some of the counties and the development community, the senate amended it into a more task force-oriented bill to find out where the forests are being lost and require certain recommendations to be made.”

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We all should be "Mad as Hell" again

bs md house budget 20180322What's that you say?”
“Come again?”
“I can't hearrrrr youuuuu!”
That is, in essence, what our state legislators have said to taxpayers in the state of Maryland. Basically, their message is: I can't hear you, and even if I did, I don't really care!
As previously mentioned in this column, the recently-released federal tax plan hits the taxpayers of high-taxed states such as Maryland particularly hard. It is estimated that, as a result of the federal tax plan, Maryland taxpayers will see an increase of approximately $400 million in state taxes owed for the 2018 tax year.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Well, the state legislature has apparently decided to spend it and not return it to the taxpayers who, if nothing is done, will see an associated increase in their state tax bill come April 15, 2019.
Using the 2014 Personal Statistics of Income from the Comptroller's table for itemized deductions, the average increase in state and local returns for Marylanders with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less would average about $1000 in additional state tax per return.

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State song may soon be demoted to historical status

  • Published in State

Maryland Flag“Maryland, My Maryland,” the Civil War battle hymn that refers to “Northern scum” soon may no longer be the state song.

But rather than replace “the embarrassing, outdated and racist song,” as Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) called it, the State Senate opted last week to demote the song to historical status.

“It will be designated as historical. We are putting it aside,” said Kagan, who stressed that her preference for the new designation is “historical, not historic. ‘Historical’ means that’s what we used to believe.”

The lyrics, which are from a poem written in the early days of the Civil War by James Ryder Randall, “are offensive and outdated,” she said, explaining why she has been trying to repeal and replace the song since 2016.

Before the song is officially downgraded, the House of Delegates must agree. An official vote in the House has not yet been scheduled.

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Maryland legislative update

  • Published in State

With less than a month left to go in this year’s legislative session, both chambers of the Maryland legislature are still working their way through several key pieces of legislation as their final deadline draws near.

Here is an update thus far on a select number of a few state bills:

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Maryland crafts legislation targeting presidential tax return

  • Published in State

A Maryland bill that would require all future presidential candidates to release their tax returns passsed the Maryland Senate last week, taking aim at President Trump. 

The Presidential Candidate Tax Transparency Act – which passed the state Senate last week 28-17 – would make Maryland the first state to require future presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a condition of appearing on the ballot, so as to let voters evaluate any potential conflicts of interest.

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