As you likely know, this is the post where I pick out a few items worth a paragraph or three but not a full post. So here goes.
Polling is in the news these days – sometimes as a real reflection of the political scene, and sometimes just to make news and push a particular agenda. There are two recent polls which I believe reflect the latter.
I’m usually not too trusting of polls in which I can’t find a political or geographical breakdown, and a recent Washington Post poll fits this bill. Taken simply as a sample of 1,064 adults in Maryland, the Post poll gives Martin O’Malley a 55% approval vs. 36% disapproval – compare that to the 53-40 split in the recent Gonzales Poll, which I can easily ascertain subgroups and methodology in. Other disagreements: a 50-44 split in favor of gay marriage on the Post poll vs. a 49-47 split in favor on Gonzales and the “key issue” question: the economy was the top choice of 49% in Gonzales but only 32% on the Post poll.
Without seeing the methodology besides the sample size, my guess is that the local Washington D.C. area was oversampled by the Post. Obviously the economy is better there than in some other portions of the state, and since the area is more liberal than the rest of the state (hard to believe, but true) the other numbers seem to point in that direction as well.
As I stated last night, this report is slightly behind schedule – from here on out, the intention is to put this up Sunday evening if possible. In case you missed them, here are the week 1 and week 2 reports.
Things must be getting a little more hectic in the General Assembly as Mike abandoned his day-by-day descriptions in favor of a general overview of the week’s proceedings.
The first topic was a quick look at judicial electronic filing, updating the progress and determining how to pay for it. I’m guessing the trial attorneys and others involved in the legal system are going to balk at additional user fees just as those of us in rural areas have no desire to pay a higher “flush tax.” But in their case, I think the benefits would be more tangible.
Second in line is probably the most important thing the General Assembly is entrusted with each year – the passage of the Governor’s budget. It’s the only item the legislature can pass and enact into law without the Governor’s formal approval.
And Mike is definitely a critic of this year’s spending bill, noting the “significant proposals that would affect every family in Maryland if they are adopted”: changes to income tax deduction, a variety of fee increases, a rise in college tuition, and the expansion of sales tax to a multitude of services, including the internet. We call that the “app tax.”
Mike also noted on Wednesday the fifteen House Republican freshmen, a group of which he’s a member, held a press conference to reveal that a majority of Maryland residents were convinced (to turn a phrase) the taxes are too damn high. In fact, 96% believe they are Taxed Enough Already – so I guess 96% belong to the TEA Party. Now if they only voted that way we wouldn’t have these problems.
Another update McDermott added to the notes was the fact both Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello and his Somerset County counterpart Dan Powell came to Annapolis to share their thoughts on the subject of a bill Mike is sponsoring (HB112), which would eliminate the requirement for a public defender at certain court hearings.
Something which really should be carefully read in McDermott’s original notes are his accounts of the Eastern Shore Delegation meetings. Obviously we have a mixed group, with three moderate-to-liberal Democrats interspersed among the 12 members of the General Assembly who hail from this part of the state (Districts 36, 37, and 38.) Most of the others are conservative Republicans, although some tend to stray from the party line from time to time.
My sense – and in looking at the monoblogue Accountability Project I can bear this out – is that McDermott is the most conservative of the group. In fact, the four freshmen Delegates we have from the Shore (all Republicans) rank among the five highest (most conservative) out of the 12-member Eastern Shore Delegation, at least by my measure. Senator E.J. Pipkin breaks that group up; otherwise the freshmen are the ones who most agree with how I would vote.
But McDermott also states that there may be a couple Department of Natural Resources projects in the pipeline; an upgrade to the bathhouses on Assateague Island and a proposed boat ramp on 64th Street in Ocean City. Perhaps that would be money well spent, although I’d be curious to know if any property acquisition is needed for the 64th Street project.
Finally, Mike promises an update in next week’s field notes on the bills he’s sponsored (there are now four where he is lead sponsor, while he’s a co-sponsor of 38 others) and restates his promise not to introduce any bond bills this session. So far, the local Republicans in the House have made good on not introducing any bond bills; however, both Shore Republicans in the Senate seem to want to go their own way on this. (Needless to say, Democrats will introduce these debt creators with impunity, since it’s only our children’s money they’re spending.)
This was a somewhat shorter summary than we had the first two weeks, probably because the routine is now setting in and there’s a lot of ground to cover – so far there are nearly 700 bills in the hopper.
But there is one omission, a bill I haven’t seen yet in the House. Last year Delegate McDermott promised to move our bill on an elected school board early in the session, but to date there is no House version. In the Senate, though, Senators Mathias and Colburn introduced SB99, which is a clean up-or-down vote, on January 17. A hearing slated for January 25 was cancelled, which may mean trouble for our cause. (Remember, a similar bill passed the Senate last year only to be bogged down by Delegate Norm Conway in the House.) Perhaps the Delegate can inquire as to why this cancellation occurred and get this bill moving in the House.