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Media Fails: MD General Assembly Mid-Week 11

Following the crossover day chaos, week 11 of the 2016 Session of the Maryland General Assembly exposes everything that is wrong with the legislature and a complicit media that refuses to report on what is actually taking place. If Maryland is to address its rampant corruption and reckless abuse of taxpayers, we must first address the corrupt and inept practices of our media.

Here are two important examples:

End of Fair Transportation

On Saturday, we reported that the Democratic leadership in the House of Delegates was willing to completely misrepresent a bill, HB 1013, that would completely destroy our transportation system. At no time did any other media outlets report that the number one concern among legislators was that the bill includes all major safety related projects and would prevent those in rural areas from receiving funding for said projects. The floor leader repeatedly claimed that “safety projects” were exempt, even though pages 13 and 14 of the bill clearly list safety projects.

An article by Michael Dresser in the Baltimore Sun fails to even mention safety. How can an hour of discussion with the vast majority of statements referring to “safety” not even garner a mention? Because it exposes the reality of the situation: this was a bad bill that will harm Marylanders and was quickly pushed through without honest consideration simply to punish Republicans. The floor leader repeatedly misrepresented the bill, and other Democrats spread the  misrepresentation across the internet.

At no time did the floor leader or any Democrat in the House of Delegates apologize after they were caught misrepresenting the bill. Their actions were propaganda, and the media bought into it.

This poorly written legislation is now in the State Senate, waiting to be considered.

End of Criminal Justice

While fundamentally destroying Maryland’s transportation system, the Democratic leadership tried to quickly force through a measure that would gut our criminal justice system. The original SB 1005 would reduce penalties for “possession or administration of a controlled dangerous substance,” raise the threshold for theft, and alter the parole process.

Additionally, page 9 proposed that an inmate could deducted 20 days from his or her term for every month of “satisfactory progress,” effectively cutting sentences by 40%. Page 47 lists a massive increase in the amount of crack cocaine an individual can “manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess” before falling under the felony statute, and page 48 doubles the minimum threshold of theft from $1,000 to $2,000. These changes were not altered by the Judicial Proceedings Committee’s amendment.

The reporters at Washington Post and Baltimore Sun could not comprehend why anyone would not support a measure that would dramatically reduce prison sentences for most criminals. However, you would not realize that the measure would release prisoners long before justice is served because the reporters only say that the measure would “save money.” They even quote Senate President Mike Miller without question or context: “We’re going to have to look at this very carefully. If we don’t have savings, what are we doing?”

We can only expect that the Senate President and the media will next propose the elimination of the whole State Police because that is expensive and it is unjust to arrest criminals. Maybe they will even propose removing the whole Criminal Law code to “save money.”

Some Senators have gone so far as to say this bill would be necessary because the “majority” of prisoners are African American men, as if reducing all prison populations by a significant percentage would somehow ease claimed racial issues. Instead, it would put criminals back into poor, minority communities without them having served a just sentence, thus further reducing their respect for the law or ensuring that they no longer fear punishment for committing crimes. It is that kind of thinking that led to so many problems within Baltimore City over the past 30 years.

Other Issues

The war on Maryland agriculture continues. HB 211, which falsely claims bees are affected by pesticides (science says not), is being heard in the Senate. At the same time, SB 937, which would destroy oyster harvesting without any justification or reason, just passed from the Senate with a vote of 36-10. Republicans have been backing these bills even though there is no scientific basis; they will destroy agriculture; and they were crafted by extremists in Montgomery County solely to punish rural Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Hearings in the opposite house have not yet been assigned for these bills.

A bill that would provide free contraceptives without restraint to children, HB 1005, will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on March 29. The Maryland Catholic Conference took the strange position of not opposing the bill simply because Churches were exempted. However, all Marylanders will be paying for contraceptives for minors, which will only increase problems, not reduce them. We discussed other issues regarding this legislation here.

The falsely titled “Equal Pay Act,” HB 1003,  will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on March 31. The legislation ignores how businesses actually operate, thus opening employers to bad litigation. Most troubling is the addition of a vague legal standard: “This section does not preclude an employee from demonstrating that an employer’s reliance on an exception listed in subsection (c) of this section is a pretext for discrimination on the basis of sex or gender identity.” The measure passed the House 92-47 with two Republicans supporting: Herb McMillan (Anne Arundel 30A) and Meagan Simonaire (Anne Arundel 31B). The Senate version, SB 481, is currently being debated on the Senate floor.

Conclusions: End of Media Watch Dogs

None of these pieces of legislation have been appropriately reported in any media outlet. Instead, any mention merely includes copy and pasted quotes from lobby groups in support of the proposals without any honest analysis that exposes the falsehood of the claims.

Furthermore, an issue like the alteration of the State Motto, SB 39, grabbed the attention of Pamela Wood who wrote a full article on the matter for the Baltimore Sun. However, the Baltimore Sun failed to even mention what happened on crossover day in the Environment and Transportation Committee, and the failed attempt by a sitting chairman to gut another chairman’s bill as part of a political stunt is actual news that Marylanders need. Why are we  bombarded by articles on pointless issues instead of being given the real news?

Sometimes, the media defends really bad proposals, such as Center Maryland’s endorsement merging the University of Maryland, College Park with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (SB 1052, which is in the House). The author of the piece and the General Assembly seem to think it is a good thing to fake rankings and inflate numbers, as if more students some how makes a school better. If it is such a good idea, why not merge all of the Maryland public colleges that lack Division 1 sports, such as University of Maryland, University College or St. Mary’s College of Maryland to form one super college? Ultimately, the bill will only expand an out of touch bureaucratic system that will become so byzantine that they could never help the students.

Week 11 teaches us that there are serious issues in Annapolis, and most of them are the media’s fault. They are supposed to serve as our watch dogs, but they would rather be cheerleaders who don’t even show up where the real stories take place so they can obtain the information needed to report on real issues. They might as well just print the Democratic leadership’s press releases and give up all pretense that they are legitimate news outlets.






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