A Taxing Issue

I don’t ask my colleagues to vote for my bills before I’ve written them.

Neither should the Governor.

“Our goal will be to leave that money in the pockets of hard-working Marylanders,” Governor Hogan said in an opening statement yesterday at a Board of Public Works meeting. “I am confident that our partners in the General Assembly who have expressed concern over the impact of this tax reform bill will support us unanimously in protecting Marylanders who could be negatively affected. Protecting taxpayers should be a bipartisan issue.”

The process by which the Republican majority just passed the tax bill reinforces my point.

Public hearings and debate raise issues that should be addressed.

Then we can decide what tax policy is in the best interests of hard-working Marylanders.

New Generations of Tech Interns and Voters

I’ll be working with Governor Hogan on behalf of one of his work force development initiatives next year.

The governor announced this week that he will “fund the Maryland Technology Internship Program [MTIP] for the first time in state history, which provides matching funds to companies for internship stipends.”

I introduced the bill that created MTIP in 2014. It authorizes a state payment for college students interning with a high tech company.

This fall, I met with the Governor’s staff to lobby for funding for the program as part of the incentive package presented to Amazon on behalf of Port Covington as a site for the company’s new headquarters.

This won’t be the first time that I’ve worked with a Republican administration on legislation. I introduced the William Donald Schaefer Scholarship, which provides a one-year college scholarship in return for a one-year commitment to a public service job.

Governor Ehrlich funded the program from the outset. Future State Senator Bill Ferguson was one of the recipients.

– – –

“We’ve lost the South for a generation.”

President Johnson said that after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

LBJ knew how to count votes, but in this instance he was wrong.

The Solid South for the Democrats did become Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and the transformation of the South into a solid bloc of Republican states.

But it took 53 years, from July 2, 1964, until this past Tuesday, more than a generation, for a Democrat to win the Senate election in Alabama.

It also took the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for African-Americans to be able to register to vote in the South.

The Real Voter Fraud

Voters in Alabama got this robocall last week from “Bernie Bernstein”:

I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old, willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report.

This anti-Semitic travesty would violate Maryland law.

It is a crime to “influence or attempt to influence a voter’s voting decision through the use of force, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, reward, or offer of reward.”

Shortly before the 2002 general election in Maryland, a flyer was distributed in neighborhoods of color urging people to vote on the Thursday after Election Day and implying that you couldn’t vote if you owed rent, child support, or parking tickets.

I responded by sponsoring the bill that made it illegal to “influence or attempt to influence a voter’s decision whether to go to the polls to cast a vote through the use of force, fraud, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, reward, or offer of reward.” (emphasis added)

This is the fraud that is degrading our election process. Not the fake fraud that is the basis for Republican efforts to limit access to the ballot.

The Election Returns

If the Supreme Court follows the election returns, as one of my Political Science professors taught me, the Congress even more so.

A dozen GOP members of the House are retiring; they will be more likely to follow the path of Senators Corker and Flake and break with President Trump. Others will join their departing ranks.

As Robert Mueller draws closer to the President, these Republicans will move further away.

The Trump Administration announced on Tuesday what it called ‘a new day for Medicaid,’” the New York Times reported yesterday, “telling state health officials that the federal government would be more receptive to work requirements and other conservative policy ideas to reshape the main government health program for low-income people.”

In Maryland, we adopted a requirement that welfare applicants and recipients be screened for drug use. I worked on this with a health expert and a Republican colleague.

I have contacted a lobbyist on social welfare issues to discuss our strategy for Medicaid’s “new day.”

Contacting and Thanking Voters – On line and at their front door

Russians bought at least one Facebook ad that targeted voters in Baltimore during last year’s Presidential election. The ad made reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday.


Under Maryland law, each campaign finance entity responsible for publishing or distributing campaign material through the Internet must keep a sample copy on an electronic medium that can be produced as a facsimile.

Is this ad covered by the existing law? Can we enforce this law against a foreign group? Can we regulate Facebook or does that authority belong to the federal government?

I’ve asked Attorney General Frosh for legal advice.


Mailings, automatic phone calls, and personal contact have little effect on a voter’s decision in the general election.

That’s the conclusion of a study done by two political science professors that a good friend shared with me.


Two days ago, I knocked on the door of an 89-year old man who lives next to the Forest Park Golf Course.

I introduced myself, and he responded, “I know who you are.”

I asked, “How do you know me?”

“I read the newspaper, and I get your newsletter every April.,” he said.

I doubt that my constituent has read the professors’ study.

It’s more likely that he knows what Tip O’Neill said.

“People like to be asked and people like to be thanked.”

My father said that as well.




Long-term delivery

Amazon guarantees two-day delivery.

It’s decision where to locate HQ2 will have an impact on the chosen city/region/state for decades.

This bidding war will also affect the losing applicants.

Here’s my minor role in this process.

I introduced a bill that created an internship program in high tech start-ups for Maryland college students.  The state would pay half the cost.

I did so after reading UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski’s op-ed about such a program in Massachusetts.

House Bill 1317 passed in 2014.  It has not been funded.

Amazon would welcome this pipeline of future skilled employees.  Funding for this program could be part of the package that is presented to the company.

However, the law would have to be amended.  Only small businesses are now eligible.

Removing that requirement would make Amazon or any other high tech business eligible for this benefit.

And there will be many companies – big and small, considering our HQ2 proposal and how it would affect their location or expansion decisions.

Building coalitions, Building credibility

My coalition building began in a basement on a Thursday night more than 35 years ago.

When I ran for the House of Delegates the first time, I wanted to get votes from both the reform and the machine factions of the Democratic Party.

I had been going to meetings of the New Democratic Coalition – Fifth District since the group was formed after the 1968 election.

This was the Gene McCarthy wing of the party. I had volunteered for Hubert Humphrey.

Morty Pollack was the son of the legendary political boss, Jack Pollack.

The Trenton Democratic Club met in his basement in Ranchleigh every Thursday night, just as it had met weekly in the Trenton club house on Park Heights Avenue near Park Circle.

Once a month, I would go to the Trenton meeting.

The club endorsed me in 1982.

When I ran for reelection, the landlords opposed me because I had introduced legislation to reduce childhood lead poisoning. They asked Morty if he would support another candidate whose last name was Rosenberg.

He told them no.

For the last 15 years, I have represented a district where a majority of my constituents are African-American. The 41st District also has a significant number of observant Orthodox Jews.

I take great pride in the fact that I have credibility with both the African-American and the Orthodox communities.

After speaking at Morty Pollack’s funeral on Friday, I realized that there was a connection between my coalition building – then and now.

Jail Time for Tenants and Terrorists

People are going to jail because they did not pay their rent.

That would not happen if they had a lawyer.

I’ve introduced bills before to require that an attorney be provided in certain legal situations.

After reading the Sun article about this procedure, civil attachment, I’m working on legislation to require that legal counsel be provided for renters at the appropriate point in this process.

The landlord who pursues civil attachment most frequently is Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump.

See http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/investigations/bs-md-kushner-arrests-20170812-story.html

Last week, I received an email from the National Association of Jewish Legislators regarding legislative efforts in Ohio and Illinois to label neo-Nazi groups terrorists.

Maryland law defines a legitimate law enforcement purpose as the “investigation, detection, or analysis of a crime or a violation of the Maryland vehicle laws or the operation of terrorist or missing or endangered person searches or alerts.”

Criminal statues are interpreted narrowly, I learned in law school. Someone should not be put in jail unless the legislature clearly intended to make their actions a crime.

My next step is to ask the Attorney General’s Office whether the language above includes both domestic and international terrorism.

Orioles Fans and Classmates

I was walking to the Orioles game on Greene Street last night. Nothing blog worthy about that.

But then someone said, “City College.”

“What year?” I responded.

“’68,” he said.

We were classmates.

Both of us have worked in state government. Tom in Parole and Probation.

He spoke positively of the Math and English departments at City.

As we approached Camden Yards, he told me that he has myeloma but has benefitted from stem cell research.

I told Tom that of all of the bills I’ve worked on, the one creating the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund could touch the lives of more people than anything else I’ll do.

I wished him the best. As we parted, we both said, “City forever.”

PS I just co-signed a letter to Governor Hogan asking him to increase funding for stem cell research. A portion of this increase would support discovery research.

I’m going to add this story in a PS.



  • My Key Issues:

  • Pimlico and The Preakness
  • Our Neighborhoods
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • Lead Paint Poisoning