Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MD Governor Proposes to Increase Taxes, Surprised Anyone?

from CBS Baltimore
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Maryland’s gas prices could soon be going sky high. The governor has recommended applying sales tax to gas, and it could pump up prices more than 20 cents a gallon.

Meghan McCorkell has more on this controversial plan.

On Monday, the governor announced a proposal to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline.

The state already levies a 23.5-cent gas tax, and the sales tax proposal would be on top of that to generate new revenue for transportation infrastructure needs. The O’Malley administration said the proposal would raise the price of gas by about 6 cents a gallon in the first year, 12 cents in the second year and about 18 cents in the third year.

It’s an idea at least one lawmaker calls a nightmare.

Maryland’s gas prices could soon be the fourth highest in the continental United States. Governor Martin O’Malley wants to extend the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline.

In a one-on-one interview with WJZ‘s Vic Carter, O’Malley says he knows this will be a struggle.

“Look, none of this is easy. And I know none of it’s going to be very popular. But there’s certain things that if we don’t do we end up paying in other ways,” O’Malley said.

The governor says the sale tax plan could raise $613 million that’s badly needed for a backlog of transportation projects.

The 6 percent on gas would be phased in over three years.

So for the $3.48 a gallon you pay now, by next year you’ll pay $3.54. That’s up two percent. In 2014, that will be $3.60. With the full 6 percent, it will be $3.66 a gallon by 2015.

The governor’s proposal would include a capping mechanism to limit the tax increase if gas prices spike again.

Political opponents say the governor’s plan hits too close to home.

“People have had enough. Working families are struggling. The governor is making living in Maryland a nightmare,” said Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Republican-District 36.

Drivers we spoke with agree, saying their budgets are already stretched too thin.

“When you add everything up, gas and everything else that has gone up, yeah it’s a contributing factor,” said Lee Madison, of Crofton. “No question.”

“Help us out, the poor guys out here working for a living,” one Maryland resident said.

The governor says this plan could put more people back to work on transportation projects across the state.

The governor plans to officially propose the hike sometime after his State of the State Address on Wednesday night.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Governor Demands Maryland Be Flaming Gay

from the Washington Examiner
“Conscience protection” is a key selling point for Gov. Martin O’Malley as he urges passage of the same sex marriage legislation he introduced in Annapolis this past week.

But it’s a fraud that would only serve to undermine religious liberty, pretenses notwithstanding.

O’Malley is taking his cues from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who last June used the guise of a conscience clause as political cover for wavering legislators in Albany, garnering him the votes needed to force passage of same sex marriage there.

According to the Baltimore Sun, O’Malley claims that the religious protections in his bill are “a little clearer” than in the Maryland bill that failed last year.

But Senate Bill 241 “The Civil Marriage Protection Act” is a mockery of religious freedom.

Consider the bill’s statement that each religious organization has “exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, policy teachings and beliefs regarding who may marry under that faith.”

Such statements should unnerve us precisely because they suggest that such control by the church of its own beliefs is exercised only at the pleasure of the state and the state in this instance deigns to give its special permission for the church to do so.

The biggest failure of the bill, however, is the absence of protection for the conscience of individuals. Anyone who in a wedding related business in the state of Maryland will be fair game for a discrimination lawsuit if he or she declines services because of deeply-held religious convictions.

This failing seems to reflect a major shift in the general understanding of conscience clauses. In the past they were intended to protect individuals from being coerced into performing acts that violated their moral convictions.

The selective service, for example, has long allowed conscripts the status of conscientious objector. And shortly after the Supreme Court legalized all abortion in 1973, Congress passed the Church Amendment intended to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers as well as religious hospitals.

But any clause that does not protect individuals -- particularly those most likely to be called upon to perform acts they find morally objectionable -- is meaningless.

Hostility towards any exercise of conscience informed by traditional morality – whether by individuals or religious institutions -- has become routine and frequent in today’s political climate. Consider, for example:
Conscience clauses are on a collision course with hate crimes law. Note that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Family Research Council as a “hate group” merely because of its opposition to same sex marriage.

Catholic Charities had to cease adoption services in Massachusetts in 2006 because same sex marriage laws there required them to them to violate conscience or lose tax exempt status.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood relentlessly challenge the legality of all conscience clauses, referring to them only as “refusal” clauses.

Last year the Obama Administration reversed a “right of conscience rule” for health care workers in federally funded facilities.
Such developments helped Cuomo move immediately after passage of his same sex marriage law to shut up New York government clerks who expressed moral objections to signing same sex marriage licenses.

Cuomo commanded every clerk to “enforce the law” or resign. The Nassau County DA threatened prosecution of any clerk who didn’t march in lockstep, even if another clerk in the office was willing to sign.

A gay activist and officer of the New York Association of City and Village Clerks chimed in that such people should “leave their religious beliefs in church on Sunday.”

This is what we’re likely to see in Maryland if this bill passes.

Conscience clauses now provide a legal veneer under which the state can increasingly restrict individuals’ expression of conscience to the confines – or, if you will – the closet of “church on Sunday.”

Maryland, beware.
h/t - JD Curtis

Monday, January 23, 2012

News of Tea Party's Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Need evidence? In 2008 446,000 South Carolinians turned out in the Republican primaries to nominate Senator John McCain as their eventual candidate. In 2012, 601,000 turned out to do likewise. That's a 35% increase in Republican primary turnout. South Carolinians seem much more motivated to vote in 2012 than in 2008. This after a measly 2.5% increase in Republican turnout in Iowa, and a 6% increase in "moderate" New Hampshire. What's the difference between these states? Do you drink "tea"? more

Friday, January 20, 2012

Is Maryland in a Recession?

Not if you work for the State!

from the Harford County Dagger
Here is a short list of alarming concerns in the governor’s budget for this year. Remember, in Maryland the governor has the power of the purse – it’s his budget.
–Raises taxes on individuals earning $100K and couples earning $175K ($100K is the new millionaire) while eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction

–Requiring the collection of sales tax on internet purchases.

–Increasing the tax on smokeless tobacco
This budget grows government and increases taxes at a time when we should be doing the opposite. Along with shifting more debt to the counties, the 2013 budget generates “new income” on the backs of the working families and small businesses. Most disturbing is that this budget is only a precursor of the massive tax increases to come.

The solution to Maryland’s budget woes… CUT SPENDING!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Will MD House Bluedogs Drink Tea?

from the Baltimore Sun
Centrist Democrats in the House of Delegates have decided to form a group to promote their point of view within the party and weigh in on key issues, a leading member of the group said Thursday.

Del. Mary Dulany-James, a Harford County Democrat, said the groups would probably be called the Blue Dog delegation or caucus -- named after a similarly oriented group of moderate Democrats in Congress.

James said the group could have a potential membership of about 20 members of the Democratic caucus, which has tended to be dominated by more liberal members from Baltimore city and Prince George's and Montgomery counties. Among the members she would identify as likely members are Dels. John Bohannon and John Wood of St. Mary's County; Galen Claggett of Frederick County and David Rudolph of Cecil County. All are from swing districts that could swing Republican in a bad year for Democrats.

The Blue Dog group, she said, would be made up of the type of members who tend to be swing votes on crucial issues. She said she hopes the group can be helpful to Speaker Michael E. Busch, whom she believes is sympathetic to their positions on many issues.

"We tend to be the kind of people who can broker a deal and can negotiate where everyone trusts us," she said. Among the issues the group may take a position on, she said, are proposed increases in the gas tax and transportation priorities.

Dulany-James, a four-term lawmaker and daughter of former Senate President William James, has been a survivor in increasingly Republican Harford. She also represents a section of Cecil County.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Glass to Challenge Impallaria

From the Harford County Dagger and office of Del. Glen Glass:
Thank you for giving me the honor and priviledge of being your State Delegate.

It is my duty to fight for you and I will continue to do so. As a new Delegate, I have made many difficult decisions thus far and this next one was not easy for me. I believe that the Harford County Delegation Leader should have most of their District in that County which allows them to be in touch with those citizens. For that reason, I have decided to challenge Del. Rick Impallaria for Chairman of the Harford County Delegation.

I respect Rick for his hard work in Annapolis and for his fight for second amendment freedom and for lower taxes. But as you know, he mostly represents Baltimore County and could best serve the majority of his constituents by running for Baltimore County Delegation Leader.

Maryland is a great state and Harford County is a beautiful place to live with hard-working, responsible and very involved citizens. I would be proud to represent you as the Harford County Delegation Leader.

Happy New Year and best wishes to you all. I’m looking forward to this upcoming General Assembly and welcome you to come and visit me anytime in Annapolis, my door is always open!
Your Delegate and servant,
Glen Glass

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When the Dream Threatens to Become a Nightmare

from the Harford County Dagger
From the office of Del. Pat McDonough:

Delegate Pat McDonough has officially formed a campaign committee that will lead the effort to defeat Senate Bill 167, known as the “Dream Act.” The referendum issue was placed on the ballot based on a successful petition drive that collected more than 130,000 signatures in a few months.

Although the petition is currently being challenged in the courts, Delegate McDonough maintains that the litigation is frivolous and will be defeated.

The campaign will be a non-partisan state-wide effort. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents will be asked to participate. A fund-raising program is already under way.

Supporters of the “Dream Act,” such as Casa de Maryland, the SEIU union, and other advocates for illegal aliens have already begun organizing and raising funds. Delegate McDonough stated, “The citizens of Maryland, in a bi-partisan fashion, have already indicated their strong opposition to the idea that taxpayers should provide benefits to fund college tuition discounts for illegal aliens. The historic success of the petition drive demonstrated the passion and outrage by the citizens of Maryland regarding their hard-earned money being used to underwrite breaking the law. They also are angry about the unfairness of their young people losing access to a college education by being displaced by illegal aliens. There will be large amounts of money poured into Maryland from out-of-state sources attempting to mislead the people and promote the ‘Dream Act.’ The people’s petition defeated the politicians in Annapolis and now the people must rise again and defeat the lies,” concluded Delegate McDonough.

Stalking Horse's, and Other Election Strategies

Jeremiah: Wind's right, but he'll just run soon as we step out of these trees.
Bear Claw: Trick to it. Walk out on this side of your horse.
Jeremiah: What if he sees our feet?
Bear Claw: Elk don't know how many feet a horse has!

...apparently, neither do voters.

Nancy Jacobs to Run for U.S. Congress in MD's 2nd District

from the Baltimore Sun
State Sen. Nancy Jacobs said Tuesday she will announce her candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District this week, making her the latest state lawmaker to jump into a House race for the 2012 election.

Jacobs, who stepped down as Republican Senate leader in Annapolis this past fall to explore running for higher office, said she decided she could be most effective in Congress. The 2nd District is currently held by Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat and former Baltimore County executive.

“A lot of people that I’ve been speaking with feel that once Dutch left Baltimore County and went to Washington he became Washington,” said Jacobs, who is 60. “I think they have the confidence in me that I would never turn into Washington because, quite frankly, I’ve never turned into Annapolis.”

Jacobs became the Senate’s first female GOP leader last year. In the Senate, she focused on criminal justice legislation, including measures to address gang violence and impose higher minimum penalties for sexual offenses against children.

“The biggest pieces of my legislation – the things I’ve worked the hardest on -- are bipartisan issues,” she said.

Republican Larry Smith, a former aide to Rep. Andy Harris, has already announced that he will seek the GOP nomination. Whoever wins the April primary will face five-term Ruppersberger in a district that became slightly more friendly to Democrats in last year’s redistricting. Ruppersberger won with 64 percent of the vote in 2010.

Jacobs will formally enter the race on Thursday.

Other state lawmakers running for Congress include Democrat State Sen. Rob Garagiola, who is looking to unseat Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in Maryland's 6th District and Del. Anthony O'Donnell, the Republican leader in the House of Delegates, who will take on Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Maryland's Largely Unregulated Abortion Malpractice Factory

from the Daily Mail
Two doctors accused of performing late-term abortions in Maryland have been arrested and charged with murder after police found a freezer full of 20-35 week fetuses.

The investigation of the doctors started over a year ago when they allegedly botched an abortion on an 18-year-old girl, leaving her with a ruptured uterus.

Though licensed in other states and never licensed in Maryland, Dr. Steven Brigham, 55, and Dr. Nicola Irene Riley, 46, ran a clinic in Elkton just near the Delaware border.

Investigators with the Elkton Police Department say they asked police in New Jersey and Utah to arrest the doctors after a Cecil County grand jury handed up indictments against Brigham and Riley earlier Wednesday, capping a 16-month-long investigation.

Police say they began their investigation on in August 2010 after the duo supposedly dropped the patient off whose abortion they botched, leaving her at a nearby hospital.

Authorities say an 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove the woman to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name.

One report says that Riley and Brigham were going to put the girl in a wheelchair and roll her to a nearby hospital when the procedure failed, but the girl's mother and boyfriend objected.

During the ensuing investigation, police found a freezer at the Elton clinic with 35 late-term fetuses inside.

Some of these fetuses are believed to have been aborted at 35 weeks, which is nearly the standard length of a full-term pregnancy.

When the New Jersey-based Brigham’s medical license was first taken away in 2010, he was called ‘a clear and imminent danger to the public health and safety’ as he ‘has consistently and repetitively engaged in manipulative and deceptive behavior . . . to eviscerate the protections afforded New Jersey patients’.

This murder charges in this case comes to light just weeks after a Philadelphia was closed and its workers arrested after performing abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy. Kermit Gosnell, 70, who owned the clinic, pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of seven babies and a patient who died of a painkiller overdose while waiting for an abortion.

At this clinic in west Philadelphia, likened by lawyers to a ‘house of horrors’ as babies born alive were killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors.

According to a grand jury report released almost a year ago, Kermit’s wife Pearl Gosnell was a cosmetologist who helped her husband perform 'extremely late-term' abortions on Sundays and other days the clinic was closed. Authorities said neither was qualified to perform the procedures.

Though Maryland is one of the most-lax states when it comes to abortion law, the discovery of 20-35 week fetuses is particularly gruesome.

Brigham started the late-term abortions in New Jersey, where he wasn't permitted to perform them past 14 weeks, and finished them a day later in Maryland, where the law is more permissive, authorities said.

In addition to crossing moral boundries, the doctors in this case played hop-scotch with state lines as a way to get around the varying state abortion laws.

One example cited in court was how the duo would inject a drug in a pregnant woman’s stomach in one of Brigham’s clinics in New Jersey to render the fetus unviable- killing the fetus. Then, they would drive, with the unconscious patient in tow, to one of his clinics in Maryland where they could perform the abortion.

In Maryland, it is illegal to inject a drug that would render the fetus unviable, but in New Jersey it is illegal to perform an abortion- no matter the status of the fetus- if it has passed a certain number of weeks into the pregnancy.

Unlike New Jersey, which sets the abortion viability bar at 14 weeks into term, Maryland does not have a set number of weeks. Instead, the state simply says that a fetus is considered viable if a medical expert says it could survive on its own.

One point of comparison, though, comes from the state’s Planned Parenthood practice, which does not allow abortions in its Maryland clinics after the 19th week of the pregnancy.

As a result, Brigham faces five counts of first degree murder, five counts of second degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Riley has a lesser charge of one count of first degree murder, second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.