Maryland legislative update

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:


Maryland crafts legislation targeting presidential tax return

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.


Kagan says video shows evidence of inappropriate touching

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (left) and lobbyist Gil Genn.  FILE PHOTOSCheryl Kagan (left) and Gil Genn (right). FILE PHOTOSNewly-released security camera footage of an interaction between State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17th District) and lobbyist Gil Genn is leading to different explanations from both parties roughly two weeks after Kagan accused Genn of touching her inappropriately.

The footage from a March 1 event at Castlebay Irish Pub in Annapolis shows shows Genn, a former state delegate and Kagan greeting one another with Genn putting his hand on Kagan’s back and whispering something to her before sliding his hand off her back, after which both spend the rest of the video in conversation. The footage does not make it clear how exactly Kagan reacted to Genn’s touch, as both continued talking in the crowded Annapolis bar.

Kagan – who in a March 2 statement accused Genn of touching her inappropriately by placing his hand on her back and then “[sliding] it down” – claimed the video validates her accusations.

“I was really uncomfortable,” Kagan said in a press conference Tuesday. “I wanted the incident to end. I wanted the interaction to end. He kept talking.”

However, Genn’s lawyer said the video exonerates Genn of any inappropriate behavior.


Gun advocates and control supporters rally in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS — Even a casual observer who visited the House of Delegates’ offices Tuesday could easy deduce the issue of the day by taking notice of the sartorial sameness displayed in the long lines of activists waiting to testify – gun control.

The corridor outside the House Judiciary Committee’s chamber, was packed full of redshirted advocates, gun lobbyists and other Marylanders seeking to add their voice to the debate, whether it was for or against more gun legislation. While last month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida provided new momentum to a longstanding push for more gun control laws, those in attendance at Tuesday’s public hearing came not to take part in the ongoing national debate on guns, but rather to weigh in gun issues closer to home in Maryland.


Kagan accuses lobbyist of inappropriate touching

Cheryl Kagan (left) and Gil Genn (right).  COURTESY PHOTOSCheryl Kagan (left) and Gil Genn (right). COURTESY PHOTOS  State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) alleges that a lobbyist inappropriately touched her during a legislative event on March 1.

“Last night, former legislator and current Annapolis lobbyist, Gil Genn, put his hand on my back and then slid it down…This was not the first time he had touched me inappropriately,” Kagan said in a March 2 statement she released through her state senate office.

Kagan alleges the incident occurred during Legislative Karaoke Night at Castlebay Irish Pub in Annapolis on March 1. Kagan said she thought it was appropriate to call out Genn by name because it is important to call out men who still do not respect women’s boundaries. She said she would “remain silent no more.”

Genn, a former Montgomery County delegate who represented District 16 and is now a lobbyist, denies Kagan’s claim that he touched her in an inappropriate way. Genn released his own statement on March 5 denying Kagan’s account of the incident.


Gubernatorial candidates talk issues in Takoma Park

39622882705 9d7f4463a1 kGubernatorial candidates gather in Takoma Park COURTESY PHOTO BY EDWARD M. KIMMEL TAKOMA PARK — Six of the eight Democrats hoping to replace incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) made their case to voters Sunday evening at Piney Branch Elementary School, during a candidate forum hosted by Progressive Neighbors.

The candidates in attendance – former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, State Senator Rich Madaleno, attorney Jim Shea and former Obama administration officials Alec Ross and Krishanti Vignarajah – took questions from a moderator, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, as well as County residents, with subjects ranging from immigration, racial equity, housing and economic development to their ability to defeat incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and perennial candidate Ralph Jaffe did not attend.

While there was little disagreement on policy matters among the candidates, there was an overarching theme for the event, which Madaleno summed up during his opening statement when he declared: “We are trying to bring back smart Democratic governance to the state of Maryland.”


Gun control legislation to be reconsidered

Maryland FlagThe mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people last week has brought new attention to state bills on gun control and school security as legislators and citizens alike look for answers after a recent wave of horrific mass shootings. 

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where a former student walked into the school and killed 17 people with an AR-15 style assault rifle, is the latest mass shooting in the past year which has prompted law makers in the state to introduce a series of gun control measures. 

“Until our national government, Congress and the president make some reforms that affect all states, we can have the strongest laws on the book, people still can get guns legally because there are states with other laws,” said Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-15).


Gubernatorial candidates Madaleno, Ross pick running mates

Maryland FlagTwo of the Democrats who are vying for the chance to unseat Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in this year’s general election announced Lieutenant Governor picks this week in hopes of balancing ties to Montgomery County with the rest of the state in order to present an appealing choice to voters across Maryland.


Controversial state song may finally change

Flag of MarylandMaryland’s controversial state song – “Maryland, My Maryland” – could soon go the way of eight-track tapes and cassettes if a number of state legislators get their way.

The Civil War-era battle hymn, which makes reference to “Northern scum,” takes its lyrics from a poem written in the early days of the conflict by James Ryder Randall, and with verses like “Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland! Thy beaming sword shall never rust,” gained popularity with Confederate troops before being adopted as the official state song.

One proposal for changing the song is SB0790, sponsored by State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D) of District 17. Kagan has been pushing to change the state song since 2016, and introduced her bill to “repeal and replace” the current song, which she called “embarrassing and dated and racist,” last week.


Independent Neal Simon to challenge Cardin in U.S. Senate race

Potomac businessman Neal Simon, an independent, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate race Tuesday, challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D).  PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIANIndependent candidate Neal Simon announces his bid for the U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D).          PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  A Potomac businessman fed up with partisan politics and a divided country entered the U.S. Senate race this week, backed by a national independent grassroots organization determined to break up the gridlock in Washington by robbing both political parties of their majority.

Bronfman Rothschild CEO and Principal Neal Simon announced his candidacy, after a short exploratory period, in a boutique hotel Tuesday in downtown Rockville, surrounded by about 50 of his friends, family and supporters.

“I’m here today because I believe we should have elected officials who put the best interests of their country ahead of the best interests of their political party,” Simon said. “We are forced to watch as our parties selfishly chip away at our sense of community to drag us deeper into debt without addressing our society’s key economic and social problems.

“Our leaders have stopped working together, stopped listening to each other and they’ve stopped listening to the concerns of working people,” Simon said. “We have a country where Congress works on behalf of special interests while failing to invest in the future of our children.

“This has to change, but it won’t change, it will never change, if we keep electing the same people from the same two parties year after year, over and over again,” Simon said to applause.