Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What We Are Watching in Annapolis

While the mainstream media titillates itself with the University of Maryland porn scandal, here’s what we have our eyes on in the rest of the General Assembly session.

Misclassification Bill

Despite heavy lobbying by anti-union hired guns Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone, the O’Malley administration introduced a bill to crack down on tax cheating by employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors. Other states have found that they are losing tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars in income taxes and unemployment revenues every year due to such scams. The bill was nearly crippled by two poison pill amendments adopted by the Senate. The bill is now in conference and if the Senate’s amendments survive, the odds of any actual crackdown on tax cheats will be very low.

Prince George’s Stadium

Marc Korman says the stadium is a bad deal for Maryland and he’s right. But it could be a good deal for Prince George’s County if only they could get the rest of the state to pay for it. After all, with Senator Ulysses Currie (D-25) chairing the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, you might figure the county could grab a bit of cash for it. Instead, the Prince George’s County Council voted against the stadium, pulling out the rug from delegation supporters and throwing the whole plan into limbo. It seems that the Prince George’s politicians can’t work together even to implement bad ideas, which may actually be a good thing.

Expungement Bill

Delegate Lou Simmons’ (D-17) odious abuser expungement bill is technically still alive in the House Judiciary Committee but we have not heard about it in awhile. We hope that it will not re-emerge from its lair.

Bill Frick’s Credit Card Bill

Delegate Bill Frick’s (D-16) bill to crack down on credit card abuse has passed the House 136-1 and is now before the Senate. We ask the Senators to read Marc Korman’s excellent post praising the bill.


Several months after the disastrous pipe break on River Road, the momentum for structural reform at WSSC has petered out. If nothing emerges from the General Assembly, the Montgomery and Prince George’s delegations will have to flee to Antarctica when the next pipe inevitably explodes.

Reregulation Bill

The bill to reregulate new power plants is the ultimate “do-little-but-hype-a-lot” bill. It will have virtually no impact on electric bills and distracts attention from real measures that could make a difference. The Senate passed it but some members of the House Economic Matters Committee dislike it. The General Assembly would do well to return to the issue with different legislation next year.

MCPS Disclosure

Delegate Al Carr’s (D-18) local bill requiring online vendor disclosure by the Montgomery County Public Schools passed the House on a 139-0 vote. This bill is badly needed and we hope the Senate supports it.

Will Anything Positive Happen on Transportation?

The Governor and the General Assembly are doing nothing to raise revenue for transportation even though the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) even though its money is disappearing before our eyes. A bill by Delegates Susan Krebs (R-9B) and Brian Feldman (D-15) limiting raids on the TTF was killed by the House Appropriations Committee. Senator Rob Garagiola’s (D-15) task force bill may or may not get a vote from the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Even if it does, time is running out on a House vote.

We’ll report back on how all of this turns out. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out Senator Andy Harris’s (R-7) latest anti-porn coverage.