Lawmakers on Wednesday called for a full accounting of how a state-run jail could become overrun by a gang within its walls and how more than a dozen correctional officers were allegedly complicit in an operation that trafficked in marijuana, prescription pills and cellphones.
By Thursday, the committee that oversees public safety legislation set the hearing for next month. The General Assembly session adjourned April 9, but the Judiciary Committee is calling its members back to Annapolis to discuss the jail situation. As of Thursday afternoon, it was not clear who would be called to testify before the committee.
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary D. Maynard has said everything in his department is his responsibility. State officials said they asked for federal help in Baltimore when they realized the jail had a gang problem.
Allegations that a cabal of Black Guerrilla Family gang members effectively took over the Baltimore City Detention Center have prompted a rare out-of-session legislative hearing on the state's prison system.
The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a May 8 public inquiry into the matter, according to committee members and staff. The House Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for the prison system, has been invited to attend the 1 p.m. meeting.
A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday alleged the BGF gang, under the leadership of inmate Tavon White, established a lucrative smuggling operation that involved corrupt female corrections officers. The indictment alleges White orchestrated gang activity from behind bars and impregnated four of the officers. Federal prosecutors said White ruled through a combination of financial incentives and a network of sexual relationships with guards.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Maryland Republican Party interim chairman Diana Waterman fended off challenges and won election as head of the state GOP this past weekend, taking the reins as the party faces a shortened fundraising session for state lawmakers and challenges from newly redrawn election districts.
Waterman had been interim chair since February, when the previous chairman, former state Sen. Alex X. Mooney, announced his plans to resign.
Waterman, of Queen Anne's County, won a majority of votes on the second ballot at the party's spring convention, beating Collins Bailey, popular with the Tea Party and a member of the Charles County Central Committee, and Greg Kline, an Anne Arundel County attorney and blogger.
She takes over the party as Republicans face challenges from redistricting that have already resulted in the loss of one congressional seat. Party insiders say at least a dozen Republican legislative seats could be up for grabs in the General Assembly.
Waterman said her first goal is to mend the fractures within the party that have divided members along libertarian leaning and socially conservative lines.
"There are not enough Republicans out there that we can be in separate groups," she said.
After that, she said, fundraising for the party becomes "almost a full-time job." The party's next major fundraising event is a June 20 dinner featuring the 2012 Republican nominee for vice president, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Waterman said that despite the challenges from redistricting, the increased gas tax and new gun control laws, along with other initiatives approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature, created "windows of opportunity" for Republicans.
"They're going to make the races a little more interesting," she said.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Germantown, Maryland – Germantown Reproductive Health Services, (GRHS) where late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart gave a patient a fatal 33-week abortion, was licensed by the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality last July, but was never inspected prior to licensing nor was it inspected as of the time of the patient death on February 7, 2013.
“It is a wonder how the Office of Health Care Quality verified that Carhart’s high risk late-term abortion clinic met the qualifications for licensure if it never bothered to conduct an inspection,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. “It is unbelievable that the State of Maryland would be so reckless after all the trouble it has had with illegal late-term abortion businesses being operated by the likes of Steven Brigham and James Pendergraft. It’s clear that the office dropped the ball.”
It was Brigham’s case that prompted Maryland to require abortion clinic licensing.
Brigham, a troubled New Jersey abortionist, was caught operating a secret and illegal late-term abortion mill in Elkton, Maryland in September, 2010. He and his associate, Nicola I. Riley of Utah were later charged with murder after a police raid of the facility discovered the remains of 35 late-term aborted babies, many viable, in a freezer. Those charges were dismissed after an expert witness for the prosecution withdrew from the case.
Operation Rescue discovered in 2012 that the notorious Florida abortionist James S. Pendergraft IV was operating an illegal late-term abortion clinic in conjunction with Maryland abortionist Harold O. Alexander. Pendergraft had no medical license in Maryland and was on suspension at the time in Florida. Alexander’s medical license was suspended due in part to an Operation Rescue complaint.
New abortion clinic licensing requirements went into effect in Maryland on July 23, 2012. Documents obtained by Operation Rescue show GRHS submitted an application for licensure July 24, 2012, and received licensure that same day.
“An abortion clinic license application simply cannot be properly processed in just a few hours,” said Newman. “There was obviously no real effort to ensure clinic safety of compliance. That is a betrayal of the public trust that depends on governmental oversight agencies to protect the public from substandard practices.”
Even though Code of Maryland Regulation 10.12.01.04 requires abortion clinics to submit to inspections, the clinic was not inspected before or after licensing and had not been inspected as of February 7 when Jennifer Morbelli, 29, died from complications to a third-trimester abortion that was done by Carhart at GRHS, an outpatient abortion facility that lacked affiliation or support of any hospital in Maryland.
After Morbelli’s death, the Office of Health Care Quality confirmed that it was investigating the clinic, but no results of that investigation have yet been released.
The GRHS license application indicates that it is accredited by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), a loose association of abortion clinics that have been found to be among the worst offenders of abortion laws and health and safety standards nationwide. The NAF routinely opposes clinic licensing and safety regulation laws.
“We hope Maryland was not counting on NAF accreditation as proof of compliance with Maryland laws since NAF clinics are notorious for being among the worst in the country,” said Newman.
Other NAF members have included:
• Two shoddy Delaware clinics associated with Philadelphia, Kermit Gosnell, that were forced to close by the state.
• A California abortion chain, Family Planning Associates, which is responsible for at least 11 patient deaths. At just one FPA facility in Bakersfield, there have been a reported three abortion-related medical emergencies in the past 5 months.
• A Kansas abortion clinic, Central Family Planning, which is under investigation for illegal dumping of human remains and private patient medical information.
• A Texas abortion chain, Whole Women’s Health, which was fined along with its disposal company $83,000 for illegal disposal of human remains.
• Arizona abortionist Brian Finkel, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for raping and otherwise sexually abusing over 100 of his abortion patients.
• A Wichita, Kansas, abortion clinic, Central Women’s Services, where filthy conditions, dangerous building code violations, and a roach infestation were discovered after Operation Rescue bought and close it in 2006.
“The list of abuses by NAF abortion businesses goes on and on. If anything NAF accreditation should be a red flag to authorities that prompts very close inspection and oversight,” said Newman. “If GRHS had been properly inspected, would it have prevented the tragic death of Jennifer Morbelli? We may never know the answer to that question.”
In related action, Operation Rescue filed a formal complaint with another oversight agency, the Maryland Board of Physicians, on February 20, 2013, and has asked for the immediate suspension of Carhart’s medical license until a full investigation and permanent disciplinary action can be completed.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
A source in Maryland Republican Party circles provided the Maryland Politics blog with the following memo being distributed by party leaders.
It seems curious that an organization that struggles to get media attention in a Democratic-dominated state would try to limit coverage in any way, but, hey, those bloggers are in some cases renegade Republicans who have the temerity to think the party could be run a bit better.
Anyway, here's the memo. We'll leave it to readers to speculate on the psychology behind the all-caps in each reference to the MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY’s Definition of Credentialed Media
In order to attend MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY’s meeting and events, or obtain free copies of publications as a journalist, you must be a credentialed member of the media.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY retains the right to grant media passes to print journalist (newspapers, magazine), broadcast journalism (radio or television), wire and news services for redistribution to other news organizations, or online new services (electronic dissemination rather than conventional print and broadcast distribution).
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY will recognize journalists who have obtained credentials from a capitol press corps, official press organization or the U.S. Congress.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY will not allow journalists to register as “media” for the purpose of writing a personal online blog, or for persons whose news outlet is funded by a corporation; trade association; think-tank; public relations or marketing company/firm; individual; political candidate/party; or activist/lobbying organization. These individuals may still attend MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY’s meetings, but must register as an association, lobbying group or individual and pay the corresponding registration fees.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY only accepts registrations during press room operating hours. Interns and fellows may not register as media, or accompany journalists, unless they can provide the required media credentials as stated above. Even if payment is made to attend MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY's meetings, the following terms and conditions still apply. You may contact the MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY with further questions or concerns.
Terms and Conditions for Use of Media Credentials at MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY Meetings
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY media credentials must be visible at all times at the meeting or networking events. No materials may be distributed by members of the media directly to legislators, legislative staff or attendees of an MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY meeting. Materials, which include leaflets, handouts, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, t-shirts, marketing materials and petitions, are to be left in the designated MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY Press Room for our meeting attendees. Members of the media may not solicit, advocate, rally or collect signatures on behalf of a political cause, issue or individual at an MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY event in which they have registered as members of the media. All requests to record or videotape at any MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY meeting or function for the purpose of rebroadcasting must be made and approved through MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY Communications Division.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY will only allow authorized representatives of the entities noted above to be approved and the approval is not transferable. Approval is needed for each MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY meeting, event or publication. All MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY publications, including PDFs, are the copyrighted property of MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY and may not be reproduced, uploaded or distributed in any way in their entirety.
MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY has the right to remove individuals from a meeting or function who do not abide by the above terms and conditions.
Abortions have been suspended at a Delaware Planned Parenthood, after several 911 calls made from within the clinic prompted a new investigation by Health and Human Services.
Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich and Joyce Vasikonis, who both quit their jobs as nurses at the facility, spoke to Action News about the unsafe and unsanitary conditions they experienced while working in the facility.
“I couldn’t tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was,” Ms. Mitchell-Werbrich said.
“He didn’t wear gloves. He didn’t believe he needed to wear them,” she added about a particular doctor. “Planned Parenthood needs to close its doors, it’s needs to be cleaned up, the staff needs to be trained.”
Both of the women said they quit in order to protect their medical licenses.
Ms. Vasikonis told Action News she was appalled by the meat-market like abortion procedures.
“They were using instruments on patients that were not sterile,” she said. “They could be at risk of getting hepatitis, even AIDS.”
Abortion clinics are not subject to routine inspections in Delaware, Action News reports. Planned Parenthood is essentially in charge of inspecting itself.
“I am not going to lie to you, we don’t have the manpower to do routine inspections,” Mary Peterson from the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services said.
She told the station her investigators went into the facility in October of last year after a complaint, but didn’t find anything.
Since Jan. 4, five patients have been rushed to the emergency room, Action News reports. The station reports that abortions are currently being suspended at the facility until further notice.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Dr. Syed Wasimul Haque, the president of the United Maryland Muslim Council, condemned the "cowardly terrorist act" at the Boston Marathon Monday that has killed three and wounded more than 100.
"Our prayers go out for the fallen victims and to the city of Boston," Haque, a Frederick physician, said in a statement.
He and others in Maryland's Muslim community have condemned past acts of violence and terror against the United States.
"The Muslims have always stood shoulder to shoulder during perilous times that our nation has faced and will do so in the future as well against all terrorist attacks," Haque said. "These terrorist attacks do nothing but strengthen our resolve to fight back such cowardly act and unite us more as a nation."
The complete statement follows.
"The Muslims of Maryland condemn the terrorist act in Boston which took the lives of two Americans and injured many spectators during the Boston marathon event. The Muslims along with the rest of the nation are deeply saddened and distressed by this cowardly terrorist act which targeted innocent victims of this event which was supposed to forge friendship and brotherhood among participants from different nations and from within our country.
"The Muslims have always stood shoulder to shoulder during perilous times that our nation has faced and will do so in the future as well against all terrorist attacks. These terrorist attacks do nothing but strengthen our resolve to fight back such cowardly act and unite us more as a nation.
"Our prayers go out for the fallen victims and to the city of Boston. May the families of the victims have the forbearance and may the inflicted recover from their injuries quickly.
"We hope and pray that the criminal or criminals who committed this heinous act are caught soon and brought to justice and punished to the greatest extent according to the laws of our country."
Monday, April 15, 2013
If you want to see how firearm sales can be effectively banned, look no farther than the so-called "free state" of Maryland. Although Maryland's newly promulgated "assault gun" ban and licensing requirements will not go into effect until October, it is already nearly impossible to reasonably purchase a pistol or other "regulated" weapon in the state, and those who do face waiting periods of 50-60 days and increasing daily. After October 1, with additional training requirements (including range time), fingerprinting, and licensing, it's likely that waiting times will increase exponentially, and that would-be legal gun owners will face periods of additional months, or conceivably years, before they can receive a pistol or other regulated weapon (though nevermore a so-called "assault weapon.") Under this scenario, it's hard to see how many gun dealers will remain in business, or why online outfits would bother to sell here (some already don't).
Going into a Maryland gun shop today is like going into an East German department store in the 1970s or '80s. You'll find little but empty shelves, or shelves filled with weapons already labeled "sold" but whose owners can't yet pick their guns up. Even without Maryland's draconian new gun law, weapons sales in the state are already heavily regulated. Maryland's ambitious leftist Democratic governor, Martin O'Malley, and a pliant Democratic-dominated legislature passed the harsh new measures despite the fact that Beretta operates its U.S. plant in Maryland and threatened to move and take hundreds of jobs with it if Maryland passed the new legislation. That made no difference to the Democrats.
Under already existing law, purchases of pistols or "assault weapons" are limited to one per month and require a background check by the Maryland State Police (MSP) and a seven-day waiting period. This system has already stymied gun sales in the state. With unprecedented purchases due to fear over potential (and now actual) heightened restrictions, the MSP is swamped with paperwork. Many gun enthusiasts suspect, like workers attempting to divine the will of the politburo, that the MSP is under secret orders from O'Malley to drag its feet processing new applications. I doubt that any such a conspiracy exists, or that the MSP is deliberately slowing the process. Rather, it is just choosing not to make heroic efforts to clear the backlog, while letting the law and natural bureaucratic inertia do the rest.
Beginning October 1, things promise to get immeasurably worse. The new Maryland law, like other recently promulgated efforts at firearms regulation, purports to respect the rights of gun owners, but its provisions quite insidiously eat away at the very heart of the 2nd Amendment. Most obviously is the "assault gun" ban, which makes most currently regulated long guns illegal.
Like other limiting state statutes, the Maryland law is filled with nonsense and misunderstandings. The statue obsesses over meaningless cosmetics, like pistol grips and flash suppressors, and thoroughly misunderstands firearm history. Some weapons, such as the M-1 carbine, are designated as "assault rifles" even though they were introduced many years before such a concept even existed. And while the M-1 carbine is currently regulated (and banned under the new law), its bigger, much more powerful cousin, the M-1 Garand, is specifically excluded from regulation. Yet it was the Garand, not the carbine, that was the principle battle rifle of American combat troops in World War II, famously described by General George Patton as "the greatest battle implement ever devised." The carbine, which fires a relatively weak pistol cartridge, was issued to rear area troops, while the Garand, which shoots the devastating .30-.06 round, equipped the infantry.
The rationale for such distinctions, insofar as any is evident, seems to be that the carbine uses an external box magazine, while the Garand does not. The current nemesis of gun regulators is the high-capacity magazine, and because the carbine can (although usually doesn't) take such a magazine, it is viewed as the more dangerous weapon.
But what really might kill gun ownership in Maryland is the new training, fingerprinting, and licensing requirements for owners of regulated firearms. With the MSP already denying rightful gun owners their weapons for up to two months (or more), the newer regulations promise to bring the system to a grinding halt. Would-be pistol owners now will have to not only take an eight hour classroom training course, but actually hit the range to be certified and licensed. And since Maryland has relatively few shooting ranges, the likelihood of this process moving along in anything like an efficient and effective manner is nil.
At some popular public ranges, you already have to take a ticket and wait though twenty or more people to get a bit of shooting time. After October 1, you'll have to camp out. And that doesn't even figure in the added complications of fingerprinting and paying for and issuing licenses.
Under this scenario it is hard to see how many gun shops will stay in business. While sales of unregulated firearms -- essentially bolt- and lever-action hunting rifles, or shotguns -- will remain relatively unscathed under the new regime, there is not so much hunting going on in the state that many businesses outside rural areas will remain profitable. As for online sales, some companies -- such as the popular outfit cheaperthandirt -- already choose not to sell to Maryland, even under its old regulations. Under the new statute, I expect many more to follow suit.
Those reading this in Southern or Western states and thinking, "Well, that's Maryland; it will never happen here" might do well to think again. Maryland is really a Southern state, and its rural areas on the eastern shore and the western panhandle support a culture not all that different from that in the South or West. But it is the dense concentrations of liberal folk in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and in and around Baltimore, who are driving politics and policy in Maryland. It is less a matter of party affiliation than location that influences opinion.
Other states are not so different. And nationally, the opinions of people in the densely populated urban areas on the coasts generally mirror those in Maryland's urban areas, thus ultimately threatening to limit the rights of gun owners, even in the South and West, through federal legislation.
Gun rights activists are often mocked for fighting against even the most seemingly innocuous and reasonable regulation as direct assaults on the 2nd Amendment. But what's happening in Maryland shows that such concerns are not at all unreasonable.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Former state Senator Art Helton’s campaign truck was parked at the site of the proposed Bel Air Wal-Mart Wednesday afternoon, sporting a “No Bel-Air Walmart” sign along with messages geared to winning him back a Senate seat in 2014.
The site along MD 924 near Plumtree Rd. is owned by Evergreen Business Trust, although it’s slated for sale if Wal-Mart can get their plan approved by Harford County government. Wal-Mart’s plan has also been a sore point with hundreds of nearby residents who say the mega-store doesn’t belong in the area.
Did Helton’s display mean that the familiar Democratic candidate and commercial re-developer had purchased the land to protect Bel Air from Wal-Mart? Or was the notable site chosen simply to launch Helton’s latest campaign for a far off election?
Responding to questions from The Dagger, Sen. Helton wrote:“I have launched a campaign for Senate 2014.I’ve been actively campaigning since early Dec. I have a campaign committee since 2009. I was on the protest line with the volunteers Sat. at WALMART in Abingdon.I have pledged my support of their efforts to stop WALMART from impacting their communities. New legislative district as a result of census redistricting. FYI. The Harford part of the district left from 2010 election is an area in which I was the winner, Gone is all of Cecil that was in the district in 2010.Much friendlier district for me. Thank you for the inquiry. Art”
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Gov. Martin O'Malley will head to Denmark Wednesday night to be a on panel about "progressive governance," one of the governor's favorite topics.I can hardly wait for his inspired new New Testament.
O'Malley will be appearing Friday in Copenhagen alongside Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the Dutch and United Kingdom labour parties, leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party Labour Party and the founder of the Policy Network, which is organizing the event.
O'Malley this week has several times referred to himself as a "performance-driven progressive," and in a speech last month to South Carolina Democrat positioned himself as pragmatist.
Maryland Republicans have accused the governor of pursuing a liberal agenda in order to build a resume for a potential presidential run in 2016. This year, the governor proposed and the General Assembly passed repeal of the death penalty, tough new gun laws and subsidies for off-shore wind.
O'Malley has publicly demurred when asked about his presidential ambitions.
Also appearing at the Copenhagan event is former O'Malley aide and current director of the Democratic Governors Association, Colm O’Comartun.
The Denmark trip is one of two international journeys the governor has planned for April. Later this month, O'Malley will travel to Israel and other mid-east countries on a trip rescheduled from the fall.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The trial details are nothing short of sensational: A doctor accused of killing seven newborns and a young woman at a filthy Philadelphia clinic strewn with body parts and described as a “slaughterhouse.”Business as Usual in the Largely Unregulated Abortion Racket
It’s big news in Philadelphia, but nationally, not so much. The lack of coverage is a problem for a growing chorus of conservative and media critics, who allege that the scant national media attention can be attributed not to the courtroom drama but the politics of abortion.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell was an abortionist, meaning that any coverage of the trial risks painting the pro-choice movement in an unflattering light. In a statement issued last week, 20 conservative leaders called for an end to what they described as a “media blackout” and “censoring” of the trial for political reasons.
“The horrific excesses of the abortion industry exemplified by Gosnell and Planned Parenthood are major, national news stories any way you look at them. But the pro-abortion liberal media are determined to hide them from the public,” said the April 4 statement led by the conservative Media Research Center and signed by former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, columnist Kellyanne Conway and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
“The media have a solemn duty to the American people to report the news, not just news that helps the positions they support. It’s unprofessional, it’s disgusting, and it’s inhuman,” the statement said.
MRC also reports that there has been no network coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, NPR or PBS, and just one brief mention on CNN.
“It’s unbelievable that Dr. Gosnell’s trial for his actions inside his ‘house of horrors’ haven’t drawn one network story,” said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell in a March 26 column decrying the lack of coverage.
Forbes columnist Mike Ozanian said that the controversy surrounding Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice, who was shown on video abusing players and using vulgar language during practice, had received far more national attention than the Gosnell trial.
“What troubles me is why Rice and Rutgers deserve more attention from the media than the trial of doctor Kermit Gosnell,” he said. “How much of this story have you seen on the evening news? I bet not nearly as much as you have seen about Rice.”
Not every murder trial receives prominent national coverage, but the Gosnell case would seem to contain all the ingredients of must-see television: a formerly respected community leader accused of unspeakable acts; the death of a young immigrant woman; a parade of former employees offering graphic testimony on the gruesome deaths of more than 100 just-born infants; and even the implication by the doctor’s lawyers that the charges have been motivated by racism. Dr. Gosnell is black and his clinic was in a mostly minority neighborhood.
Assistants said the babies were effectively decapitated after the doctor snipped their spines with scissors One assistant said a newly delivered baby was “big enough to walk around with me or walk around to the bus stop.” Another employee said she heard a baby “screaming” after it was born alive after a botched abortion attempt.
“The mainstream media has been studiously avoiding the trial of abortion butcher Kermit Gosnell, despite the kind of stomach-churning testimony that would normally attract headline coverage,” John Hayward said in a column Monday in Human Events.
Critics also say there is a glaring double standard involved in the treatment of the Gosnell trial. Stories that place the pro-life movement in a negative light are much more likely to receive coverage, such as an NBC News report in November about a woman who died in Ireland after being refused an abortion in a Catholic hospital, said Mr. Bozell. Pro-lifers also note full coverage on the several occasions when abortionists have been killed.
The trial is being covered by The Associated Press, and AP wire stories have appeared on network websites. The proceedings also are receiving heavy coverage on pro-life and religious websites such as LifeNews, as well as newspapers and television in the Philadelphia and Delaware markets.
The Media Reseach Center has received no reaction from the networks about the statement, said Dan Gainor, vice-president for business and culture.
“Journalists hate to have anybody question anything they do, no matter how egregious,” said Mr. Gainor.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said extensive national coverage is essential in order to prevent more situations like the one at the Women’s Medical Society of Philadelphia.
“They need to do their jobs of reporting the news and not rely on the pro-life movement to do their jobs for them,” she said.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Maryland is poised to become the only state on the East Coast to issue driver's licenses to immigrants here illegally under a bill passed by state lawmakers Friday.
The legislation, which Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to sign, would revive a two-tier licensing system that was set to expire in 2015. It would grant new licenses to more than 100,000 people, legislative analysts said.
"We've changed the conversation on how we deal with residents in Maryland, and that includes everyone, including immigrants," said Sen. Victor Ramirez, a Prince George's County Democrat who introduced the bill. "We're going to take a practical approach and not drive people underground and not treat them like criminals." (which they are)
Motorists who pass a driving test and can prove two years' residency — even if they cannot prove lawful status in the country — would be able to apply for the second-tier license. Those licenses would have all the driving privileges of other Maryland licenses but could not be used as federal identification.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration backs the proposal because licensed drivers cause fewer accidents and can buy insurance, officials said.
O'Malley's spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the governor will sign the bill. The House passed the bill Friday and the Senate endorsed it last month.
Only four other states — Utah, Illinois, Washington and New Mexico — have laws granting driving privileges to immigrants in the country illegally. Maryland Republicans predicted the state would become a "haven," attracting illegal immigrants because it is the only state in the region to grant licenses.
"They're not here to contribute, as far as I'm concerned," Del. Herb McMillan, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said during the floor debate. "If we encourage people to come here illegally, we encourage them to take jobs from Americans."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and Hispanic rights group have praised the plan for providing equal treatment to immigrants and described a driver's license as fundamental to living in a community.
Maryland first created the second-class licenses in 2009, when the federal Real ID law mandated that state-issued identification cards meet several security standards, including verification that applicants were in the country legally.
Before then, immigration status was not considered when Maryland issued driver's license. About 95,000 already-licensed drivers who could not prove legal status were given the second-class licenses in 2009, which are marked "Not for Federal Purposes" and cannot be used to board a plane or enter a federal building.
Those licenses expire in 2015 and no more were granted. Once the bill passed Friday is signed into law, driver's licenses could be issued beginning next year.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
I am sad to inform you that after 7 hours of debate and hundreds of amendments, SB 281, the gun control bill, passed the House of Delegates 78 to 61.
This bill takes away fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This bill punishes law abiding citizens and will not do anything to punish criminals who are committing crimes.
Thank you so much for your support.
Your Delegate and Servant
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.I spell oblivious, "O-b-a-m-a."
President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.
Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to do more to make sure more Americans can enjoy the benefits of the housing recovery, but critics say encouraging banks to lend as broadly as the administration hopes will sow the seeds of another housing disaster and endanger taxpayer dollars.
“If that were to come to pass, that would open the floodgates to highly excessive risk and would send us right back on the same path we were just trying to recover from,” said Ed Pinto, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former top executive at mortgage giant Fannie Mae.
Administration officials say they are looking only to allay unnecessary hesitation among banks and encourage safe lending to borrowers who have the financial wherewithal to pay.
“There’s always a tension that you have to take seriously between providing clarity and rules of the road and not giving any opportunity to restart the kind of irresponsible lending that we saw in the mid-2000s,” said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The administration’s efforts come in the midst of a housing market that has been surging for the past year but that has been delivering most of the benefits to established homeowners with high credit scores or to investors who have been behind a significant number of new purchases.
“If you were going to tell people in low-income and moderate-income communities and communities of color there was a housing recovery, they would look at you as if you had two heads,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit housing organization. “It is very difficult for people of low and moderate incomes to refinance or buy homes.”
Before the crisis, about 40 percent of home buyers were first-time purchasers. That’s down to 30 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.
From 2007 through 2012, new-home purchases fell 30 percent for people with credit scores above 780 (out of 800), according to Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke. But they declined 90 percent for people with scores between 680 and 620 — historically a respectable range for a credit score.
“If the only people who can get a loan have near-perfect credit and are putting down 25 percent, you’re leaving out of the market an entire population of creditworthy folks, which constrains demand and slows the recovery,” said Jim Parrott, who until January was the senior adviser on housing for the White House’s National Economic Council.
One reason, according to policymakers, is that as young people move out of their parents’ homes and start their own households, they will be forced to rent rather than buy, meaning less construction and housing activity. Given housing’s role in building up a family’s wealth, that could have long-lasting consequences.
“I think the ability of newly formed households, which are more likely to have lower incomes or weaker credit scores, to access the mortgage market will make a big difference in the shape of the recovery,” Duke said last month. “Economic improvement will cause household formation to increase, but if credit is hard to get, these will be rental rather than owner-occupied households.”
Deciding which borrowers get loans might seem like something that should be left up to the private market. But since the financial crisis in 2008, the government has shaped most of the housing market, insuring between 80 percent and 90 percent of all new loans, according to the industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance. It has done so primarily through the Federal Housing Administration, which is part of the executive branch, and taxpayer-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, run by an independent regulator.
The FHA historically has been dedicated to making homeownership affordable for people of moderate means. Under FHA terms, a borrower can get a home loan with a credit score as low as 500 or a down payment as small as 3.5 percent. If borrowers with FHA loans default on their payments, taxpayers are on the line — a guarantee that should provide confidence to banks to lend. (Please Note that a Credit Score of 500 is SUB Sub-Prime)
But banks are largely rejecting the lower end of the scale, and the average credit score on FHA loans has stood at about 700. After years of intensifying investigations into wrongdoing in mortgage lending, banks are concerned that they will be held responsible if borrowers cannot pay. Under some circumstances, the FHA can retract its insurance or take other legal action to penalize banks when loans default.
“The financial risk of just one mistake has just become so high that lenders are playing it very, very safe, and many qualified borrowers are paying the price,” said David Stevens, Obama’s former FHA commissioner and now the chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The FHA, in coordination with the White House, is working to develop new policies to make clear to banks that they will not lose their guarantees or face other legal action if loans that conform to the program’s standards later default. Officials hope the FHA’s actions will then spur Fannie and Freddie to do the same.
The effort requires sign-on by the Justice Department and the inspector general of Department of Housing and Urban Development, agencies that investigate wrongdoing in mortgage lending.
“We need to align as much as possible with IG and the DOJ moving forward,” FHA Commissioner Carol Galante said. The HUD inspector general and Justice Department declined to comment.
The effort to provide more certainty to banks is just one of several policies the administration is undertaking. The FHA is also urging lenders to take what officials call “compensating factors” into account and use more subjective judgment when deciding whether to make a loan — such as looking at a borrower’s overall savings.
“My view is that there are lots of creditworthy borrowers that are below 720 or 700 — all the way down the credit-score spectrum,” Galante said. “It’s important you look at the totality of that borrower’s ability to pay.”
Note: On Credit Scores
330 - 619: Poor credit. In banker jargon a person with a score in this range is considered a "Credit Leper."
620 - 659: Sub-prime financing will be available to you.
660 - 720: Prime financing will be available to you.
721 – 750: Prime - x% may be available to you. That is, you may be able to get interest rates on loans that are even lower than the prime rate.
751+: Excellent credit. May enable you to get even lower prime -x% interest rates depending on the credit type you're utilizing.
ANNAPOLIS — Democratic lawmakers in the Maryland House of Delegates defeated Republican efforts to weaken a gun-control measure Tuesday night, moving the bill backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley closer to passage with its major provisions intact.
The House rejected more than a dozen changes sought by Republican lawmakers. One of them would have stripped out a major part of the bill that would require people to submit their fingerprints to get a license to buy a handgun. Supporters say the fingerprinting provision will make people reluctant to buy a gun legally to give to someone who is not allowed to own one. Opponents said it was wrong to fingerprint people for exercising their Second Amendment rights. The proposed change failed on a 51-79 vote.
The House also rejected a proposed change that would have eliminated parole or probation for people convicted of committing a crime with a gun, forcing them to serve their entire sentences.
The House voted the amendment down on a 53-83 vote.
Supporters of the change say there should be some provision addressed at criminals who commit crimes because the bill focused too much on those who follow the law.
“Let’s send a message: Get those people off our streets, keep them off our streets, and stop trying to put the burden on the law-abiding citizens,” said Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil.
Opponents of the change contended that parole and probation are necessary incentives to get inmates to behave while incarcerated and to keep prison costs down. They also said probation is a strong motivation for recently released inmates to not commit other crimes.
“It’s very important that there be some form of time hanging over their head,” said Del. Joseph Vallario, D-Prince George’s.
Meanwhile, O’Malley has included $4.6 million in his supplemental budget proposal to implement the bill to create a “Gun Center” to help state police enforce the new provisions of the law.
Late last week, two House panels made some changes to the measure already passed by the Senate more than a month ago. Still, the main parts of the bill were kept. They include a requirement for handgun owners to submit fingerprints to state police to get a license and limiting magazines to 10 bullets. An assault weapons ban also is in the bill.
The House panels added changes. One would require someone to report a gun that is lost or stolen within 72 hours. Like the fingerprinting provision, the reporting requirement is aimed at preventing people from getting guns for people who are not allowed to have them.
The early evening debate brought a crowd of people to observe the proceedings. Residents who oppose the legislation have regularly turned out for rallies, debates and votes throughout the session, which is scheduled to end at midnight Monday.
A vote is expected in the next couple of days. Differences between the House and Senate — both controlled by strong Democratic majorities — will need to be worked out to send the measure to O’Malley before the end of the session.
O’Malley, a Democrat, proposed the measure in the aftermath of December’s massacre at a Newtown, Conn., school, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide. The bill would make $25 million available for schools to invest in security measures such as locks, cameras and buzzer entrance systems.