Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Speaker Michael Busch Announces House Committee Assignments

ANNAPOLIS, MD – House Speaker Michael E. Busch today announced committee assignments for six standing committees in the House of Delegates, as well as appointments to new leadership positions. In the upcoming session, Appropriations will have 25 members, Environmental Matters will have 24, Health & Government Operations, Economic Matters and Ways & Means each will have 23, and Judiciary will have 22 members.

The committees are balanced to reflect the demographic, geographic and party makeup of the legislature.

The following Delegates and Delegates-elect were appointed today. Delegates not included on this list will maintain their current committee assignments. Type rest of the post here


Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais (District 15) Vice Chairman, Judiciary Committee
Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg (District 41) Vice Chairman, Ways and Means Committee
Delegate Brian J. Feldman (District 15), House Parliamentarian
Delegate Marvin E. Holmes, Jr. (District 23B) Chair, Democratic Caucus
Delegate Justin D. Ross (District 22), Vice Chair, Democratic Caucus and Chief Deputy Majority Whip
Delegate Anne R. Kaiser (District 14), Chief Deputy Majority Whip


Delegate-elect Michael Hough (District 3B)
Delegate-elect Kathy Szeliga (District 7)
Delegate-elect Mary Washington (District 43)
Delegate-elect Craig Zucker (District 14)


Delegate Benjamin Barnes (District 21)
Delegate-elect Steve Hershey (District 36)
Delegate Tom Hucker (District 20)
Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer (District 19)
Delegate Steven R. Schuh (District 31)
Delegate Kelly Schulz (District 4A)
Delegate Jay Walker (District 26)


Delegate James W. Gilchrist (Delegate 17)
Delegate-elect Patrick Hogan (Delegate 3A)
Delegate-elect Jay Jacobs (District 36)
Delegate-elect Herb McMillan (District 30)
Delegate-elect Charles Otto (District 38A)
Delegate-elect Shane Robinson (District 39)
Delegate-elect Cathy Vitale (District 33)
Delegate-elect C.T. Wilson (District 28)


Delegate-elect Bonnie Cullison (District 19)
Delegate William J. Frank (District 42)
Delegate-elect Ariana Kelly (District 16)
Delegate Peter F. Murphy (Districgt 28)
Delegate-elect Justin Ready (5A)


Delegate-elect Tiffany Alston (District 24)
Delegate-elect Sam Arora (District 19)
Delegate-elect Luke Clippinger (District 46)
Delegate-elect John Cluster (District 8)
Delegate-elect Michael McDermott (District 38B)
Delegate-elect Keiffer Mitchell (District 44)
Delegate-elect Neil Parrott (District 2B)
Delegate-elect Geraldine Valentino-Smith (District 23A)


Delegate-elect Kathy Afzali (District 4A)
Delegate Talmadge Branch (District 45)
Delegate-elect Mark Fisher (District 27B)
Delegate Glen Glass (District 34A)
Delegate-elect Eric Luedtke (District 14)
Delegate-elect Aruna Miller (District 15)
Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg (District 41)
Delegate Andrew A. Serafini (District 2A)
Delegate-elect Michael Summers (District 47)

Hat Tip to Aaron Kaufman who forwarded this to me


Statement from MCRCC Member Daniel Vovak on his Illness

Our thoughts are with Daniel and his family.

Dear friends, Republicans, and Marylanders:

For the last two weeks, I have had the rare privilege to be overwhelmingly loved by family and friends and to receive perfect care from the staff at Johns Hopkins/Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Shortly before Thanksgiving and through the weekend of the Maryland Republican Convention earlier this month, I experienced increased abdominal pain. I have since learned that I have an aggressive, but yet-to-be-specifically-diagnosed, Stage IV cancer.

Thankfully, my family and Alison have remained at my side, even as my dog, Newton, anxiously awaits my return. I anticipate not returning home for at least a month, though still before the 450 daffodils I planted (just three weeks ago) bloom in the spring. In the meanwhile, I ask that you pray for me and be more open with your loved ones, since I have learned there is no advantage to delaying kind words.

At this time (to preserve my strength), I request no phone calls, flowers, or visitors. Correspondence should be directed to Daniel Vovak through email at or to Daniel Vovak, Suburban Hospital. 8600 Old Georgetown Road. Room 3104. Bethesda, Maryland 20814. I will respond to correspondence when I am able, or as there are developments. May God bless us all!


Senator-Elect Roger Manno on Political Pulse

Topics included: the election and appointment to the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee; Maryland's fiscal picture; the new 19th District Delegation; pension reform; Glenmont Redevelopment, and the relationship between the County and State delegations. Times broadcast below the jump.

Thurs, 12/30 at 9:00 p.m.
Fri, 12/31 at 6:00 p.m.
Sat, 1/1 at 6:00 p.m.
Sun, 1/2 at 6:00 p.m.
Tues, 1/4 at 9:30 p.m.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"It's a Black Thing?"

Delegate Derrick Davis responds to Blair Lee's column:

So political corruption is now the exclusive domain of African-Americans? I’m going to assume an editor wrote that title because I know Mr. Lee is far too enlightened to hold such an opinion, let alone have it headline his weekly commentary. Yes, some African-Americans have committed egregious crimes against the very people they were elected to represent but why can’t the focus be on the individuals themselves and not their race? Too often African-Americans are accused by bloggers and opinion writers of “playing the race card” or injecting race where it does not belong. I certainly will concede that race has been, and will continue to be, used as an excuse or justification for criminal behavior. By the same token, it is headlines and commentaries such as Mr. Lee’s column (December 11th) that does fuel speculation about media bias as it relates to how African-Americans are portrayed versus our counterparts.

Let me say right now that I do not believe the arrest and indictment of the former Prince George’s County Executive and his wife, the current Councilwoman representing the 6th Councilmanic District, was in any way racially motivated. There have been far too many allegations and investigations over the past eight years for any fair-minded individual to believe otherwise. However, the alleged personal malfeasance of the former county executive and the violation of the public trust of the councilwoman are an indictment of their personal failings and not that of an entire race of people. As noted author Zora Neal Hurston famously said, “Not all my skin folk is my kin folk.”

Mr. Lee, when did you become such an expert on the thoughts and opinions of African-Americans? I have been black 43 years and I am far from an expert on the thoughts and opinions of my race as a whole. As many of us have said time and again, we are not monolithic in thought and/or action. Respectfully, it was totally irresponsible and uninformed of you to suggest that because the allegations against the former county executive didn’t include ripping off poor black kids but taking advantage of the political spoils system, “in the eyes of many blacks” that was acceptable behavior. You justify this outlandish statement by saying, “That’s why, for almost a month, there’s been a deafening silence out of PG County.”

You and other members of the media have complained about this so-called silence among elected officials in the county. First of all, many of us joined County Executive Rushern Baker at a press conference on November 15th, the first business day after the arrest, to let our citizens know that despite these despicable allegations we were united in effort to moving the county forward. Secondly, many of us have had direct contact with our constituents about the matter and what options were available. Thirdly, the county council took appropriate measures to limit the new councilwoman’s power and influence until these issues have been resolved. No Mr. Lee, there has not been deafening silence on this matter.

Allow me to let you and others in on something. Most residents and elected officials in the county are appalled and embarrassed by what has transpired. Most were irate that the former county executive did not resign immediately and the current councilwoman did not have the decency to step aside for the good of the district she professes to love. The reason the media did not get to cover numerous press conferences or read pithy press releases from various elected officials was likely because we were not going to provide others with any more entertainment than what these individuals already have. No, I am not downplaying the seriousness of the situation by referring to it as “entertainment”; rather, I understand the desire of some to see this tragic betrayal replayed constantly to denigrate the accomplishments of an entire race of people.

Please tell me what can I say or do on behalf of all African-Americans in Prince George’s County (I mean PG County because I know how much it pains you to use our actual name) to assure you and others that there are many decent, hard-working people who reside in the county and that we do not all share the same personal failings of a few? What can I say or do to assure you that most people do not view these actions as “arrival” but in fact as “shame”? What can I do to assure you that there is public outrage even though you may not read press accounts about it? What can I do to assure you that while some people have chosen to leave the county for a variety of reasons, many people are still proud to call the state’s second largest jurisdiction home?

Finally, I’d like to address why the inaugural crowd’s greatest applause went to Marion Barry as you put it. Councilman Barry’s personal struggles during his later years in office have been well-chronicled. As heart-breaking as it has been to watch these struggles, many of us simply cannot forget what he meant to the civil rights movement in his earlier years. Many of us cannot forget his accomplishments in his early mayoral years, all those summer jobs he helped to provide for our young people and all those senior citizens he tirelessly served. Many of us do understand how so many people are supportive of you when you are on top but forget about you when you are not.

Maybe you are right, it is a black thing…and you wouldn’t understand.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hoyer Saved Repeal of DADT

The Hill has the story.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Valerie Ervin on Political Pulse

MoCo County Council President Valerie Ervin (and Council-Member from District 5) will be on the "Political Pulse" TV Show on:

Thurs, December 23rd at 9:00 p.m.

Fri-Sun, December 24th-26th at 6:00 p.m.

and Tues, December 28th at 9:30 p.m.

Topics that will be discussed include MoCo budget issues and her views on what the MoCo State Delegates and Senators should do on important issues that they will be facing in Annapolis during the 2011 Legislative Session (like the possible shift of some of the teachers pension expenditures to the counties and Maintenance of Effort education funding).


Monday, December 20, 2010

Mizeur Calls for Moratorium . . .

. . . on Natural Gas Extraction from Marcellus Shale. Apparently, some families near the site can now light their tap water on fire:

A flood of natural gas companies has swept into Appalachia, bringing the promise of both economic development and an American energy revolution. New technologies now allow them to extract gas from deposits long thought untappable.

And yet at least a few of these same companies have had to provide bottled water to whole neighborhoods. Why? Because in the shadow of new drilling operations, some families have discovered that their tap water is now flammable.
The problem is with the process, not the gas. It's a real fracking problem (and not in the Battlestar Galactica sense):
But while the risks are real, so is the promise. The Marcellus Shale is an underground rock formation that spans from western New York to Virginia by way of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and West Virginia. Geologists tell us that deposits within the Marcellus Shale and other similar rock formations around the country would make us the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

That could be a game changer. Natural gas produces only about half the carbon emissions of coal, and it is cheaper than oil. Businessman T. Boone Pickens and the environmental powerhouse Sierra Club agree that it could help us transition to a clean energy economy while improving our energy independence.

But it is the method of extraction — not the fuel — that has raised red flags. When combined with advances in deep drilling techniques, hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has enabled companies to extract these once untappable natural gas deposits. Wells are drilled into the shale first vertically, and then horizontally, at a depth between 5,000 and 20,000 feet. To release the gas, the rock is injected with a highly pressurized mixture containing at least 2 million gallons of water, 200,000 pounds of sand and 80,000 pounds of chemicals.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Investigators Raid Home of Ehrlich Robocaller

In case you missed the Baltimore Sun story. Attorney General Doug Gansler says enough is enough and has filed a civil lawsuit:

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has filed a civil lawsuit against Henson, alleging voter intimidation and vote suppression.

Gansler’s complaint alleges that Henson and an employee violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by because the phone message did not include any identifying information. Gansler is seeking $500 for each violation, which would add up to a fine of more than $56 million
It appears, however, that Republicans think that don't ask, don't tell isn't only for gays in the military:

Henson said Ehrlich “probably” did not know about the calls. Ehrlich’s campaign paid Henson $111,000 for “community outreach.”

Ehrlich told the Annapolis Capital last week that the calls were “done outside of my purview.” When news of the calls broke on Election Night, an Ehrlich spokesman called them “absolutely irresponsible.”


Thursday, December 16, 2010

For the Democrat Who Has Everything. . .

Can't figure out what to get for Christmas? Here's that special last-minute gift for the Democrat who has everything. I swear we're not making this up. . .

Adam Pagnucco tells me that he is holding out for the Chia Hans Riemer since green is his signature color. Even if the green pants are on hiatus, Hans still sported a green tie at the Committee for Montgomery Breakfast.


The Great Gaffesby

Make sure to catch the picture of Steele's family in the background of the interview. Priceless. And don't miss the Steele shout out to 20814.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is Less More? District 18 Campaign Finance

How much does it cost to win a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates?

In District 18, vote shares for the House appear inversely related to spending. However, we cannot know for sure because Vanessa Atterbeary has not filed her pre-general (due in October) or post-general (due in November)campaign finance reports.

Dana Beyer spent $185,577.13, or just over $34 per Democratic primary vote, on her campaign. Her campaign has very substantial outstanding loans which I imagine are owed primarily to the candidate.

Incumbent Ana Sol Gutierrez spent $41,937.16, or $5.32 per vote, and came in first. Jeff Waldstreicher expended $87,976.92 or $11.91 per vote, and came in second. Al Carr spent $99,919.23, or $14.79 per vote and came in third.

However, the three incumbents also benefited from expenditures by the District 18 Democratic Team which also included Sen. Rich Madaleno and spent $95,690.44, so comparisons between the incumbents and challengers are not so clear.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Steele Running for Reelection as RNC Chair

Muppets groan and MPW smiles along with the Daily Show for all the material we look forward to him continuing to provide.

Hat tip to Alan Banov for the link.


An Inconvenient Truth

MPW invites readers to submit guest posts. Here is a one from MCEA Executive Director Tom Israel:

The County pays less for health insurance for each MCPS employee than they do for each county government employee; yet the County Council appears intent on cutting funding for health insurance for MCPS employees.

Earlier this week the County Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight issued a report entitled “Achieving a Structurally Balanced Budget in Montgomery County: Options for Long-Term Fiscal Balance”. While the report was a data rich compilation of information about the county budget, it was woefully imbalanced. Of the report’s more than 200 pages, only seven pages were devoted to analyzing the county's revenue issues and only three pages are devoted to the county's burgeoning debt service expenses.

So what's the rest of the report about? Employee salaries and benefits. In contrast to the paucity of options concerning county revenues and county debt expenses, the report contains dozens of recommendations for cutting employee salaries, cutting employee health insurance, and cutting employee retirement plans.

Many members of the County Council seem obsessed that MCPS employees generally pay 10% of their health insurance premiums while county government employees generally pay 20%. But those numbers obscure a more important fact buried in the very same report.

The fact is that the Montgomery County Government pays more per participant for employees in the county government’s health plans than the school board pays per participant for MCPS employees.

The MCPS premium structure is a 90/10 split on the point-of-service plans as well as the dental, vision and Caremark drug plans. The split on the HMOs is 95/5. This was done intentionally in order to provide an incentive for participants to enroll in lower cost, more tightly managed health care plans.

The good news is that this voluntary incentive has worked. Approximately 60% of MCPS employees participate in one of the HMOs.

The Council’s own staff report confirms that the county pays less for health insurance for each MCPS employee than it does for each county government employee:

Health Benefits – Monthly Employer Premiums



Health Plan



Premium Cost



Premium Cost

Health Plan


Carefirst High POS *

$ 685.53

$ 522.41

Carefirst Open POS

Carefirst Standard POS

$ 661.50

$ 512.60

UHC Select Plus POS


$ 654.48

$ 493.72

UHC Select HMO *

Kaiser HMO

$ 389.25

$ 434.48

Kaiser HMO



$ 407.27

Carefirst Blue Choice HMO

Employee + 1

Carefirst High POS *

$ 1236.87

$ 1044.62

Carefirst Open POS

Carefirst Standard POS

$ 1195.29

$ 1024.92

UHC Select Plus POS


$ 1249.11

$ 945.47

UHC Select HMO *

Kaiser HMO

$ 746.46

$ 866.73

Kaiser HMO



$ 782.86

Carefirst Blue Choice HMO


Carefirst High POS *

$ 1989.00

$ 1397.76

Carefirst Open POS

Carefirst Standard POS

$ 1919.07

$ 1371.05

UHC Select Plus POS


$ 1952.64

$ 1444.82

UHC Select HMO *

Kaiser HMO

$ 1166.40

$ 1256.58

Kaiser HMO



$ 1178.06

Carefirst Blue Choice HMO

NOTE: Bold = Plan with highest enrollment

Source: Montgomery County Council, Office of Legislative Oversight, “Achieving a Structurally Balanced Budget in Montgomery County: Options for Long-Term Fiscal Balance”, page 108, December 7, 2010.

That's right. Even despite the fact that the county only pays 80% of their costs versus an average of about 93% in the school system, the per capita employer costs for health insurance within MCPS are lower. The county typically pays $500 more per month per family for health insurance.

Why? That's the question the county government should be asking.

Part of the answer is because for 20+ years the MCPS unions have worked in partnership with the school district to promote cost containment (not cost shifting). We have created a number of incentives in the plan to encourage the use of the most cost effective health care options: incentives for generic drugs and mail order drugs, disincentives for emergency room use, incentives to enroll in lower cost, more tightly managed HMOs.

To increase the employee share of HMO premiums to a flat 20% would eliminate the incentive for enrolling in these lower cost, more tightly managed health care plans. Eliminating that incentive would likely increase overall plan costs.

Such a change would also have a disproportionate impact on employees in the HMOs. Quadrupling the cost of their share of insurance premiums would cost them an additional $2,343 a year. For a bus driver earning $25,000 a year – that’s almost a 10% cut in pay.

As the old saying goes - people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. MCPS - in partnership with the unions here - have done a much better job of controlling the overall cost of health care than the county government has. The County Council should be encouraged to find out why the county government's insurance is costing the county more than MCPS' insurance. That's the real question.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Martin O'Malley and Rich Madaleno on Marriage Equality

More information on the Governor's comments during and after his speech at Committee for Montgomery Legislative Breakfast can be found here.


Governor O'Malley Comes Out as Bi

In a speech before the annual Committee for Montgomery Legislative Breakfast, Gov. O'Mally bravely came out as bi.

"Bi-metropolitan" that is as his roots are in Montgomery even if he served as mayor of Baltimore. The Guv also got a laugh when he referred to the trip from Baltimore to Washington somehow being much shorter than the one from Washington to Baltimore.

County Executive Ike Leggett introduced the Guv by reminding him that, though Montgomery was a bank of votes for the entire Democratic ticket this year, we're not an ATM. Has he been speaking with Robin Ficker? Rob Garagiola touted the increased funding for Montgomery in the last session by the State as did the Guv. Council President Valerie Ervin demanded that the State keep funding teacher pensions.


Apportionment Numbers Due Next Week

The U.S. Census Bureau will release its decennial count of the population of each state and the resulting apportionment of U.S. House seats and Electoral College votes at 11am on Tuesday, December 21st. Maryland is not expected to gain or to lose seats this year.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

On Political Pulse

Jon Gerson, the Director of Community Outreach for the Montgomery County Education Association (also known at the County Teachers Union) will be on Political Pulse on:

Thurs, Dec 2nd at 9:00 p.m.
Fri-Sun, Dec 3rd - 5th at 6:00 p.m. and
Tues, Dec. 7th, at 9:30 p.m.

Topics that will be discussed include: the Apple Ballot, the Washington Post's criticism of the Teachers Union, the proposal to push some of the Teachers' pension costs from the State to the County, the tough budget picture for the County and maintaining the County's high quality of education.