Dec. 23 // Md's arbitrary campaign finance laws

If Thursday's ruling by the Maryland Board of Elections on which gubernatorial campaigns are allowed to raise money during the upcoming General Assembly session proves anything, it's just how arbitrary Maryland's campaign finance laws are. The board's decision, which can and probably will be appealed in court, held that Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown can't raise money for his gubernatorial campaign during the session because he is a state-level official, but his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, can. Likewise, Harford County Executive David Craig can raise money for his gubernatorial bid, but his running mate, Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, cannot. (Balt. Sun)

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Reforming juvenile justice

It’s hard to imagine what life inside an adult jail must be like for a teenager. Bleak, dark, terrifying are some of the things that come to mind. Even for adults, jail can be a dehumanizing experience, one that only reinforces a life of criminality and guarantees recidivism. How much more so, then, in the case of kids. While we understand there are some serious crimes for which children should be tried as adults, we’d rather these cases begin in the juvenile court system, where the decision should be made whether a youth should face the legal system as a juvenile or adult. (News-Post)

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Prince George’s bets on MGM

Practically from the moment in 2007 that officials in Annapolis discovered that Marylanders playing slot machines in Delaware and West Virginia were exporting about $150 million annually to the tax collectors of those two states, Maryland has mounted a breakneck campaign to build casinos and milk them for revenue. In a relatively small state, four casinos have opened; a fifth, in Baltimore, will be launched next year. Plans for the sixth — the glitzy jewel in the crown — were unveiled Friday when a state commission chose MGM Resorts to build, just south of the District line in Prince George’s County, a huge casino and resort , a Las Vegas-style pleasure palace dedicated to gambling, entertainment, celebrity-chef-branded restaurants and around-the-clock conspicuous consumption. (Wash. Post)

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Convention, transit center proposals promising

These are flush times for The Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developer that fought for and created the Maryland Live! casino, and for the state, which gets two-thirds of the huge Hanover facility’s gross off the top. And the times aren’t bad either for the county, which pulls in some $20 million a year in development funds from the casino, not to mention property taxes. But the developer’s chairman, David Cordish, knows a key Maryland Live! advantage is about to be stripped away. What he has in mind now could benefit many who live and work in this county — whether they are high school students and their parents or transit riders sick of standing in the rain to catch a bus. (Capital)

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Pay now, save later

BGE customers may not be thrilled with the news of the last two weeks. On Dec. 13, the Public Service Commission approved not only gas and electric distribution rate increases for the utility but it also took the unprecedented step of allowing the company to add a surcharge to residents' bills to cover future grid reliability initiatives. What may increase ratepayers' anger is that the surcharges are, directly or indirectly, the result of policy decisions by the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who came to office seven years ago largely on a promise to hold down energy costs for BGE customers. But that sort of criticism misses the big picture. The rate increase the PSC approved, though unpleasant, is part of the normal order of business. The two surcharges amount to modest investments by consumers to hedge against the unpredictable consequences of climate change. (Balt. Sun)

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Well-deserved pay raise

Merry Christmas, governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer — whoever you are in 2014. Allow us, on behalf of the people of Maryland, to say how heartily we wish we were you. Not because you are prominent, powerful people, no. Not because you are — as all our politicians — fine, upstanding and honorable folk. None of those. No. We’re envious that you, unlike most of your fellow Marylanders or the rest of the hard working, middle class men and women of the nation, could get a 20 percent — yes! A 20 percent — pay hike, phased in over your four-year term. (News-Post)

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Devin Tucker: The hidden costs of Anne Arundel County’s overtime policy

The Capital‘s recent expose on overtime costs in Anne Arundel County (“Punching the Clock: Anne Arundel Costs Rise to $20 Million”) only partially revealed the true costs of an official policy that preferred extending overtime to current employees versus hiring new staff. The overtime first policy had a significant impact on the fire department and the communities it serves. (Capital)

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Barry Rascovar: Md. health care leader? It’s not Anthony Brown

Who’s in charge of Maryland’s computerized Obamacare rollout? Until recently, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown wanted you to believe he was the man. For years, he’s been describing himself as Gov. Martin O’Malley’s “point man” on this crucial health insurance program. The governor’s press staff dutifully gives Brown co-authorship and quotable lines every time there’s a press release. Yet it has become painfully clear Brown is not the “point man” on Obamacare, Maryland-style. (Md. Reporter)

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