Public Interest Groups Jointly Call For Special Session

An April 30 MarylandReporter article discusses the recent unified call by almost 60 public interest groups for the State to hold a special session.  The groups have launched a campaign  entitled “Save Our State” that is designed to put pressure on Governor Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch to call a special session.  The groups have jointly signed a letter to the leadership outlining why the “Doomsday budget” cuts that took effect when the General Assembly failed to reach a consensus on a revenue package and other budget actions before the end of the 2012 regular Session must be addressed.  An excerpt from the letter:

We urge you to come together and resolve Maryland’s ongoing budgetary crisis now.  The doomsday budget cuts, and the need for more cuts in the future because of a failure to address our structural budget deficit today, are not a path that will move Maryland forward.  We cannot afford to shortchange our public schools, health care, public safety, higher education, and state programs and workforce—the very things that Marylanders depend on every day.  Balancing a budget while sacrificing our state’s critical programs, services, and quality schools will only harm the well-being and future of our citizens, communities, and state.

From the MarylandReporter article:

 Many of the signers are directly affected by the budgets cuts, including the  largest public employee unions and teachers unions, which are sponsoring the “doomsday clock,” ticking down next to the letter.

But they are also joined in signing the letter by dozens of social service  organizations that serve the developmentally disabled, families in need, the  mentally ill, child care, struggling schools and health care.  …

Americans for Prosperity, a leading Tea Party organizer, is circulating its own letter petitioning O’Malley, Miller and  Busch not to call a special session.

“Instead of responsibly balancing the budget, like I have to everyday, you  chose to play political games,” the letter says. “You increased spending by $500  million, raised taxes (and fees), and wasted your time and my money.”

DNA Case Holding Will Likely Result in Contentious Session Debate

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Court of Appeals recently held that State law requiring the collection of DNA samples from an individual arrested for a crime or violence or felony burglary was a violation against the individual’s constitutional rights.  The ruling has forced both local jails and the State to halt DNA collections of arrestees (collection of DNA from those convicted of certain crimes is not affected).  The State law, which was already going to sunset in 2013 without further action by the General Assembly, will likely be a contentious topic during next year’s Session.

Dan Rodricks, Julie Rubin and Jim Astrachan discuss the DNA holding on the April 26 podcast of WYPR’s Midday on the Law, as well as a federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals holding that finds DNA collection from arrestees is constitutional.  [DNA discussion starts at the 20-minute mark of the podcast.]

An April 27 article examines the likelihood that the DNA collection law will be discussed during the 2013 Session and may also be considered by the United States Supreme Court.

A push to pass a new version of a state DNA law, which was overturned this week by the state’s highest court, will be hotly contested, supporters and opponents say.  …

“It’s a very interesting, difficult, controversial subject. We want to give law enforcement the tools they need, but obviously, we’re restrained by what the Constitution requires,” [Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair Brian] Frosh said. “It’s going to be a hot topic in the next session.”  …

State police and other law-enforcement agencies are urging the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said the appeals court overturned a major tool that has proved useful to law enforcement, with 190 cases solved through DNA samples taken at the time of arrest.

April 27 article on Baltimore County Police ending their collection of arrestee DNA

Maryland Transportation Secretary Steps Down

Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley announced  that she will be stepping down from the position after 25 years of state service.  In September 2009, Governor O’Malley appointed Swaim-Staley to position, making her was the first woman to serve in that capacity. Prior to serving in her current role, Swaim-Staley served as the Deputy Transportation Secretary from 2007-2009.  In response to her resignation, Governor O’Malley stated:

“When Beverley joined our team over five years ago, she was widely recognized for her seasoned leadership. Throughout her tenure, she has solidified her reputation as a skilled and forward thinking executive.  With her strong background in both finance and transportation, Beverley guided our transportation efforts during the most difficult economic downturn this country has faced in generations.  Despite the economic challenges, we made significant progress including the development of an award winning public-private partnership at the Port of Baltimore and the opening of the Intercounty Connector.  I thank her for her years of service.”

To read more about Swaim-Staley’s accomplishments, read the full press release.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases County Level Data

The U.S. Census Bureau has released “USA Counties,” a collection of county level data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other Federal agencies. County-by-county statistical information is available in a number of general categories related to demographic, economic, and governmental data.  The files cover topics such as agriculture, crime, education, health, retail trade, and vital statistics.



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