Pages

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

SEC Goes After A Town For Fraud

In a first, the Securities and Exchange Commission has gone after a city. The SEC charged Harrisburg, Pa., with securities fraud. Without admitting the charges, the city agreed to settle, and the SEC levied no fines. According to the SEC order, Harrisburg misled buyers of municipal bonds about how bad its fiscal condition was. Harrisburg, the state capital, missed $14 million in interest payments to bond holders. The SEC says the city is nearly bankrupt. Harrisburg is operating under state receivership. The SEC has put all public officials on notice about misleading information in bond sales.

From The Horses Mouth

Mr. Ed has nothing on this horse. Metro Meteor, a 10-year-old retired race horse, is now a best-selling painter in Pennsylvania. After retiring from the track because of bad knees, Metro was adopted by a local artist and his wife, who decided to teach the horse to paint. By holding a paintbrush in his teeth, Metro swings his head to create colorful abstract painting, which have sold for as much as $2,000 a piece. According to his owner, there are 120 people on a waiting list to purchase one of Metro's paintings. A portion of the proceeds go to help a local animal shelter, and the rest is used to cover the medical expenses for the arthritis in Metro's knees. According to the owner's website about Metro, "Art scholars are not going to have lengthy discussions trying to decipher the hidden meaning to Metro's paintings. He is a horse." It looks like George Bush isn't the only one to take up painting in his retirement.

NYC Federal Courthouse To Finally Get Proper Security

A federal courthouse in Manhattan is getting a security upgrade nearly a dozen years after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. A 4,500-square-foot glass-and-steel structure will be built outside the courthouse. Security officers will screen people for weapons and explosives there. Chief Judge Loretta Preska said the General Services Administration had to "scour the country" for $10 million left over from other projects. Several terrorism trials have been conducted at the courthouse. It's just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Construction will begin this fall and end in April 2015.

Solar powered Airplane

In an attempt to score another landmark achievement for green energy, two pilots are hoping to make the first around-the-world trip in a solar-powered airplane. The pair started the project back in 2003, with a 10-year budget of over $100 million, and the help of Swiss engineers and Belgian researchers. The plane, dubbed the Solar Impulse, took off on the first-leg of the journey on Friday, leaving San Francisco Bay on a slow-speed flight to Phoenix. They expect to make several stops on their trip across country, as they wait for favorable weather, and they expect to make it to New York's J.F.K. International airport in about two months. Although the plane may not break any speed records, it represents a huge breakthrough in the use of green energy. The Solar Impulse is a test model for a more sophisticated plane that the pair hopes to build next, which will allow for higher speeds and longer flights. One of the pilots spoke to reporters before the first flight, and said, "If we don't try to fly today using renewable energy, we never will."

Winners in the 2nd Annual Wicomico County Elementary Chess Tournament

Congratulations to all the winners in the 2nd annual Wicomico County Elementary School Chess Tournament, which took place Friday, May 3 at Westside Intermediate School.
All Wicomico County students in grades 2-5 were invited to register for the tournament, and winners and participants came from both public and private schools. The 1st place winner for each grade level will be honored at the Board of Education June 4 Awards & Recognitions Night, which will take place at James M. Bennett Auditorium.
2ND GRADE
1st -Ben O'Brien, Pemberton Elementary
2nd - Gianluca Secondi, Westside Intermediate
3rd - Donovan Twilley, Salisbury Christian
4th -Dominic Cereo, Westside Intermediate
5th - Aryavir Sangwan, Westside Intermediate
6th - John Koch, Westside Intermediate
3rd GRADE
1ST - Liam Hornstein, Westside Intermediate
2nd - Gianfranco Secondi, Westside Intermediate
3rd - Katelyn Marcum, Westside Intermediate
4th - Alexander Emmert, Salisbury Christian
5th - Jamie Stoltzfus, Salisbury Christian
6th -Bobby Schaller, North Salisbury Elementary
4th GRADE
1st - Noah Hornstein, Westside Intermediate
2nd - Ben Leader, Westside Intermediate
3rd - Daniel Chen, Westside Intermediate
4th - Gage Sabater, Glen Avenue Elementary
5th - Ben Jennings, Wicomico Day School
6th - Brian James, Westside Intermediate
5th GRADE
1ST - Chase Donaway-Corbin, Pinehurst Elementary
2nd - Trevor Pusey, North Salisbury Elementary
3rd - Taewoo Kang, North Salisbury Elementary
4th - Ashley Marcum, Westside Intermediate
5th - Jakobi Hudson, North Salisbury Elementary
6th - Adan Thomas-Mason, Pinehurst Elementary

NRA Update

Incoming NRA president, Jim Porter, will lead the legal fight to challenge recent gun laws in several states throughout our nation. The Alabama lawyer will replace current president David Keene. Keene told the Washington Times that Porter is a "perfect match" for the NRA, as it shifts its focus to court-room challenges. Keen said, "as we are likely to win most of the legislative battles in Congress, we will have to move to courts to undo the restrictions placed on gun owners' rights in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Colorado." Apparently, the NRA only respects state's rights in those states that refuse to place any limitations on gun sales and ownership. And, they don't respect the 90% of Americans that support background checks and many other modest reforms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. This is just more evidence that the NRA doesn't work for its members, it only does the bidding of gun manufacturers.

Honey Bees Are Dying Putting America At Risk Of A Food Disaster

Forget the plight of the polar bear for a moment and consider the coming collapse of the $30 billion honey bee economy in the US.

Since 2006 honey bees responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops—from apples to zucchini—have been dying by the tens of millions. As a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) details, scientists are still struggling to pinpoint the cause of so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and time is running out.

“Currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of U.S. agricultural crops,” the report states. 

More 

Capitalism Is Cancer

Unregulated capitalism is cancer on our nation. Like tumors, greed has metastasized, strangling once-healthy parts of our economy, and our social safety net. A new piece on Alternet lists several ways this cancer capitalism has taken hold. For starters, the hoarding of wealth by the banksters and the 1% has diverted resources away from nutritional aid programs. Twenty people in our country collected a whopping $73 billion in investment income – all taxed at a lower rate than working Americans. Compare that with the fact that President Obama couldn't even get $1 billion to improve childhood nutrition in our schools. And, while cancer capitalism has lead to higher-than-ever corporate profits, it hasn't translated into good jobs for college grads. Because of rising tuition costs, the average student graduates with $26,000 of student loan debt, and adding to that burden, high-unemployment allows the corporate elite to underpay workers, and hoard a larger share of profits. In addition, tax-dodging corporations have drained much-needed revenue out of our society like a tumor choking off the blood supply to our economy. According to Alternet, tax exemptions and corporate loopholes drain nearly a trillion dollars from "the body of our society" every year. And, the worst parasite of all is the unrestrained corporate purchase of our politicians. Cancer capitalism has left voters feeling weak and powerless, while Congress repeatedly represents only the will of the corporate elite. We must stop this cancer before it spreads into every last inch of our national body. Just like conquering any type of cancer, we must attack this problem from all sides, from getting money out of politics, to regulating Wall Street, to breaking up the monopolies that have too much power over our government. We can do all this, and we must.

NY DEMOCRATIC LEADER INDICTED FOR CORRUPTION

Democrat Sen. John Sampson, 47, the New York State Senate leader and former leader of the Democratic caucus, has been indicted on charges of embezzlement, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to the FBI.

Sampson has been accused of embezzling $440,000 between 1998 and 2008. He used escrow accounts which were in his control when he negotiated foreclosures for the court to channel some of the funds into his attempt to be elected Brooklyn district attorney in 2005.

More 

PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING OPENINGS FOR CITY BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

The Salisbury Board of Zoning Appeals has two openings available for qualified area residents who would like to serve. The Board of Zoning Appeals is responsible for hearing applications for special exceptions to the Zoning Code, appeals of rulings of Building, Permitting and Inspections Director, and applications for non-conforming structures. The Salisbury Board of Zoning Appeals meets the 1st Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. in the City/County Government Building, Room 301. Applicants should have general knowledge of construction and zoning code requirements. 

If you are interested in serving on this board please submit a written description of
your qualifications to the following address: 

Office of the Mayor
125 N. Division Street, Room 304 
Salisbury. MD 21801 

All letters of interest must be received by Monday, May 20, 2013.

Contact: Office of the Mayor
(410) 548-3100

More

Sequestration Cuts Expected To Hit Job Market Over Summer

The sequester will take a bigger bite from the economy in the coming months as workers collect more unpaid leave and additional spending cuts are triggered, several economic experts predicted Monday.

A strong employment report in April that found the economy added 165,000 jobs underlined the sense that the labor market is improving, but observers warn it’s too early to declare the economy is safe from sequestration.

“The fiscal drag is going to reach its peak in the second and third quarter, and we know that’s going to be around 2.5 percent of GDP,” said Andrew Busch, a political and economic strategist who advised Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Read more

Report: YouTube Introducing Paid Subscription Channels Soon

The Internet is busy buzzing over reports that YouTube has gathered its druthers and is set to launch a paid subscription model for certain video channels very soon. As for how soon, exactly — it could be as early as this week.

The paid channels would help YouTube amp up its revenue and, it’s to be hoped, give fans of TV shows and movies yet another option for watching streaming content.

According to the report in the Financial Times (via Mashable), there will up to 50 channels, with subscriptions going for each at about $1.99 a month. There’ve been rumors about such a thing since way back in June of 2012, so the timing just feels right.

A YouTube spokesperson tells Mashable in a statement that doesn’t confirm or deny the report:

DELAWARE TO BECOME 11TH STATE WITH GAY MARRIAGE

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A divided Delaware state Senate voted Tuesday to make their state the 11th in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after hearing hours of passionate testimony from supporters and opponents.

The Senate's 12-9 vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who supports the measure and planned to sign it later in the day. It would go into effect July 1.

"I think this is the right thing for Delaware," the governor said after the vote, while posing for pictures with supporters outside his legislative office. "It took an incredible team effort."

More 

Senate Signs Off On Marketplace Fairness Act; Online Sales Tax Inches Closer To Reality

If you’re one of the many Amazon customers whose state has yet to reach an agreement about the collection of online sales tax, this will probably be bad news. This afternoon, the Senate voted in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would give each state the authority to compel online businesses to collect applicable taxes.

Currently, online businesses without a physical in a state are not obliged to collect tax from customers — even though consumers have a duty to pay this usage tax when they file their annual tax returns. The Act would grant each state the ability to decide whether online businesses need to collect the tax (Prediction: They will).

More Haitians Using Puerto Rico As Migrant Route

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Haitians have been fleeing their troubled country for years, trying to reach the U.S. or other Caribbean islands by sea or by trekking across the island of Hispaniola to scratch out a living in the Dominican Republic.

But a newly popular route has caught officials in the Caribbean by surprise, taking migrants to a piece of the U.S. much closer to home.

Hundreds of Haitian migrants have made their way to Puerto Rico in recent months. They've found that if they can make it to the U.S. territory without getting arrested, they can fly on to U.S. cities such as Miami, Boston or New York without having to show a passport, although some kind of identification, such as a driver's license, is needed.

More 

NEITHER THE GUTS NOR THE DESIRE

The Social Security Trust Fund annual report to Congress is due out this week. It will be discussed in the Press for a few days. Some of the things that will come up:

- The NPV of the unfunded liability will go up by approximately $2 trillion, to $23 trillion. Every year this horrific number is discussed, and then ignored. What does this number mean? The 2012 increase in new liabilities is double the reported increase in federal debt. If this number were added to the existing debt, it would bring the total nut the country faces to $39T – 250% of GDP.

The problem is that the calculation measures the present cost of the infinite future. Who cares about something that might go wrong 50+ years from now? Hopefully, the scary NPV number to be released will focus attention on SS. The fact is that SS is PayGo. It has a revenue base, it spends more than it takes in, the Treasury makes up any shortfall by issuing more debt. If this reality were the basis of looking at SS (versus goofy TF accounting), then there would be no infinite future issues.

- The date of exhaustion of the OASDI TF will be shortened by 2 years to 2031. This means that anyone 47 or younger is paying “full price” for a benefit that will be worth only 75 cents on the dollar. That is how the law is currently written; I keep wondering when younger workers will wake up to the realities of what they are paying for.

- The SSTF will recommend that either payroll taxes go up by 2.5%, or that all current and future benefits get cut by 2.5% (or some combo). These recommendations would require an immediate change to achieve the desire long term stability of SS.

More

Filmmakers Debut Catonsville Vietnam Protest Documentary in Md.

BALTIMORE —A new documentary made by local filmmakers details one of the most historic moments of the Vietnam War protests that happened in Baltimore County.

The film, called "Hit and Stay," is about the group known as the Catonsville 9, and it can be viewed at the Maryland Film Festival this weekend.

The Catonsville 9 was a group of nine Catholic activists who were among the first to publicly protest the Vietnam War in May 1968. The group took draft cards from a selective service office in Catonsville and set them on fire with homemade napalm. They then prayed while they waited to be arrested.

"The Catonsville 9 is just one action that happened here in Baltimore, but it inspired plenty of actions all over the country, and that's the story we wanted to tell," said local filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk.


Read more

Juvenile Falls From Third Story Window

On May 4, 2013, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Ocean City Police responded to a residence on 52nd Street in reference to a fall from a third story window.

The investigation revealed that several juveniles were at the location for a party and had been consuming alcoholic beverages. During the party, the victim, identified as a 14-year-old female from Worcester County, attempted to exit the unit through a third story window and fell. The victim was conscious and alert when police arrived but was disoriented.

The victim was treated at the scene by OCFD Paramedics and was then flown to University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma in Baltimore as a precaution by Maryland State Police helicopter. The victim was later released from Shock Trauma to her parents.

Foul play is not suspected in this incident.

Ocean City Police will not be releasing the name of the victim or the other juveniles involved. The findings of the incident will be forwarded to Worcester County Social Services for further investigation.

Study Pegs Cost Of Immigration Bill's Mass Legalization At $6.3 Trillion

The comprehensive immigration overhaul being taken up in the Senate this week could cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion if 11 million illegal immigrants are granted legal status, according to a long-awaited estimate by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The cost would arise from illegal immigrants tapping into the government's vast network of benefits and services, many of which are currently unavailable to them. This includes everything from standard benefits like Social Security and Medicare to dozens of welfare programs ranging from housing assistance to food stamps.

The report was obtained in advance by Fox News. 

Boston Cop Shot By Other Cop!

Eyewitnesses of the shootout that killed one of the Boston bombing suspects believe that police officer Richard Donohue was injured and almost killed by his colleagues, who were firing at the fleeing suspect.

In a 10-minute shootout in Watertown, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was fatally injured, while his brother Dzhokhar escaped. Donohue, a 33-year-old transit officer, took a gunshot to his right thigh and suffered severe blood loss that sent him into cardiac arrest and almost killed him.

With a severed femoral vein and artery, the wounded officer lost all of his own blood and his heart stopped beating for 45 minutes before he was resuscitated.

Initial reports made no mention of the cause of Donohue's gunshot wounds, but newly-released eye reports suggest that he was struck by friendly fire. Rob Mullen, a Watertown resident and eyewitness, told the Boston Globe that he watched as all the officers fired simultaneously at the black SUV that the Dzokhar used to escape.

“Every cop out there just unloaded everything he had on the SUV,” Mullen said, recalling the scene as he saw it from the second-floor window of his house on Laurel Street.

More

Biden Asks Clergy To Make Moral Argument On Guns

Vice President Joe Biden wants pastors, rabbis and nuns to tell their flocks that enacting gun control is the moral thing to do. But another vote may have to wait until Congress wraps up work on an immigration overhaul.

Biden met for two-and-a-half hours Monday with more than a dozen leaders from various faith communities -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh, to name a few. Both Biden and the faith leaders encouraged each other not to give up on what has been an arduous and thus far fruitless effort by Biden and President Barack Obama to pass new gun laws in the wake of December's schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut.

Around a large, circular table in a conference room on the White House grounds, Biden waxed optimistic about prospects for passing a bill, according to four participants who spoke to The Associated Press after the meeting. Biden's chief of staff, Bruce Reed, joined the group, as did a handful of Obama aides who work on faith-based outreach. The meeting closed with a meditation and a prayer for action.

More 

There's No Party Like A White House Party

Bill and Hillary Clinton, actress Kerry Washington, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and producer Harvey Weinstein were among those who joined the Obamas at the White House’s secret post-inauguration bash.

President Obama and Michelle Obama held the hush-hush, swanky, ultra-A-list party to celebrate his second term the night he took the oath of office. The party was not announced or listed on his official schedule, but a few of the guests tweeted about the event, which is what publicly revealed its existence.

The guest list that reveals who attended was never released though the White House visitors log from January, which came out at the end of April and was examined by The Hill: a mix of rock stars, actors, top campaign donors, White House aides, Obama friends and leading Democratic politicians.

Read more

A School System Works To Solve A Math Problem: Test Failures

See if you can solve this math problem:

Sixty-seven percent of your students take and pass algebra with a "C" or better, but recent data shows thousands of students are failing their semester finals.

In Montgomery County, the Washington Post reported data from the school system showed that 57 percent of the students taking the Algebra 2 exam failed it. For students taking geometry the numbers were more alarming: 62 percent failed. Even precalculus students struggled; 48 percent of the students in that course failed.

Dylan Presman is the president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Rockville High school where his son is a sophomore, "The data is -- there's no other word for it -- the data is just shocking."

Presman says he first became alarmed when a group of principals reported to the Board of Education in March that exam failure rates had been an ongoing issue. "When the principals started talking about 60 to 70 percent of students failing, that really was a red flag." In one course, Bridge to Algebra 2, a class for students who need support, the failure rate on the exam was 86 percent.

More

Ocean City FOP Poker Run 5/11/13

The Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police #10 will host their 5th Annual Poker Run on Saturday May 11, 2013. Proceeds for the event go to benefit the "Home of the Brave" in Berlin, MD. Registration will begin at Hooters (123rd Street in Ocean City) at 10:30 am. The cost is $20 per hand. There will be discounts offered for participants at the stop locations.

For anyone coming from out of town, there are rooms available at the Carousel Hotel (118th Street) for $50 per night. Please contact Robin Latinville 410-520-2223 orrobin.lattinville@carouselhotel.com

Senate OKs Internet Sales Taxes, Bill Goes To House

Internet taxes? Not so fast.

A bill that would let states collect Internet sales taxes from online retailers and their customers may have sailed through the Senate, but it is expected to face much more resistance from tax-wary Republicans in the House.

Though the Marketplace Fairness Act, sponsored by Sens. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, is a bipartisan bill that is backed by more than 20 House Republicans, supporters and opponents both agree it will be a “harder fight” in the House with billions of dollars in future e-commerce at stake.

Whistle-Blower: Special Forces Could Have Saved Americans In Benghazi

U.S. special operations forces in Libya could have saved Americans killed in the attack last Sept. 11 on the consulate in Benghazi but were told to stand down, a State Department whistle-blower has told congressional investigators.

The testimony by Gregory Hicks, who will appear before a House panel on Wednesday, contradicts previous testimony by administration officials who have said all U.S. forces in Libya were deployed the night of the attack.

Hicks was in Tripoli during the attack and became the top U.S. diplomat in Libya when Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

Read more

$5.00 Skate Night On Friday


East About To Be Overrun By Billions Of Cicadas

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. The insects will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600-to-1. Maybe more.

Scientists even have a horror-movie name for the infestation: Brood II. But as ominous as that sounds, the insects are harmless. They won't hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won't ever see them.

"It's not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people," says May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist.

More 

Can Our Lawless Police Bureaucrats Be Tamed?

Lost Dog 5-7-13 UPDATE

Joe, this Siberian Husky was lost on Mt. Hermon Church Road last night. He answers to the name of "Ghost" and is very friendly. He is microchipped. Please call 240-350-7228.

Don't Judge?


Maryland’s Legislative Business Impact For 2013

“How Not to Grow an Economy”
by Delegate Mike McDermott

As a result of the actions taken by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2013 Regular Session, we will continue to be a state that is “unfriendly to business”. Our Corporate Tax rates remain the highest in the region and our layers of government process insure that we continue to be slow to respond and costly for business start ups.
This year we saw the passage of Off Shore Wind (SB-275) and the Electric Tax subsidy that comes with the package. It seems insignificant to talk about a monthly consumer fee of $2.00 or less, but that rate can and will rise. The additional cost of power to our business community will be much greater and will insure that we will be less competitive while our consumers foot the bill with every item they purchase along with the additional costs of local government (paid by every taxpayer). It is tragic to see the state jump through hoops to craft this type of subsidy for unproven energy while, at the same time, enact a moratorium on accessing Natural Gas deposits in Marcellus Shale. Maryland could be energy independent sporting tens of thousands of new jobs with zero tax increases or subsidies. Instead, we allow political correctness to dictate our energy policy, and, in particular, our energy portfolio. Silliness costs money and jobs.
Maryland remains at the point of the spear when it comes to the implementation of Obama Care. SB-274 was passed this year and will have a significant impact in particular on small business and our health care providers. The expansion and costs going forward are significant and should give pause to any prudent business person. I strongly encourage you to read this bill and pay particular attention to the Fiscal Impact Statement provided by the Department of Legislative Services. You will see why the vast majority of states are not moving forward with the implementation.

In another blow to business, we added a Sales Tax to gasoline (HB-1515) and established an automatic tax increase mechanism for the current Gasoline Excise Tax already in place (24.5 cents per gallon). The Sales Tax will rise every year for 4-years and the Excise Tax is linked to the Consumer Price Index and will rise every July 1st beginning this year. Mass Transit will be the big beneficiaries of this tax and local governments will continue to suffer the loss of Highway User Revenues. With the additional Toll increases going into effect at the same time, areas like the Eastern Shore, dependent upon goods being trucked in, will see these transportation costs passed onto them at the register. Everything will cost more money.
Although many of us warned people of the coming “Rain Tax” (HB-987) as passed in the 2012 Regular Session, many jurisdictions will be under the mandate as of July 1st and will be required to collect this new tax. Most residential properties will pay a flat rate through their property taxes, but Maryland businesses, churches, hospitals, etc. will be taxed based upon the amount of impervious surfaces they have on their respective property. Any surface area that obstructs water from entering the ground directly will be taxed based upon square footage in most jurisdictions (think of large warehouses and parking lots). Once again, consumers will be footing the bill.
All of these additional taxes, fees, and regulations add up to significant money for any business owner. There were also efforts to raise the Minimum Wage in our state which often results in tightening of belts and the loss of entrance level jobs. No doubt we will see those bills again in the future. The passage of the governor’s Gun Safety Act (SB-281) has essentially outlawed many firearms currently being produced in Maryland. Those manufacturers offer significant employment and most of them are in the process of relocating their companies to other states. Not only will our state not be any safer as a result of this bill’s passage, but we will now suffer the loss of tens of millions in revenue not easily replaced.
There were a few legislative efforts that are noteworthy for the potential positive outcome which may result. We also have a new Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, Dominick Murray, who seems to understand the problem with the state’s position and has expressed a determination to streamline the process. One of the biggest obstacles to our business and economic growth is the failure of state agencies to work together on issues simultaneously to cut the time associated expenses companies and entrepreneurs need so desperately when they are starting or expanding an enterprise in Maryland.
As a result of many complaints I have received from business owners who have been subjected to random inspections and significant fines by the state for minor violations, I introduced HB- 104. The bill would have provided a much-needed grace period to small businesses found in violation of state regulations, giving them time to comply before being unfairly fined. In response to the bill following the Committee Hearing in House Economic Matters, the Secretary of Labor and Licensing issued a letter establishing that his department would “only give warnings to businesses for first time offenses of minor violations of code.” This public policy announcement is a big win for Marylanders, and I intend to hold the department to their word.
One thing you learn quickly from Annapolis is to be concerned about any “Study” or “Work Group” established by the members through legislation.. It is not uncommon for a host of regulations and other barriers to business to come from these groups.. Therefore, let me provide you with a couple of the approved “studies” that will take place over the next year upon which future legislation may be based in 2014:

SB-1068 establishes the Commission to Study the Regulation of Payroll. One of their chief missions is to determine the feasibility and cost of establishing State licensure or registration of payroll service companies, including requiring qualifying examinations and the potential benefits of licensure or registration.

SB-916 establishing the Task Force to Study Licensing and Continuing Education Requirements for Electricians. Their principle task will be to “review appropriate approaches for the licensure of electricians at the State and local level to protect citizens and provide for efficiency of electrical services across county lines.”
If you have an interest in these areas, please reach out to my office and we will make sure you have a good contact with an individual who will be serving on the Study Group. This is the best place to insure that you stay on top of any new proposals before they advance to proposed legislation.
There always seem to be new layers of regulations and permitting that are brought forward every year affecting various business sectors. This year was no different. Here are a couple of fields that will be impacted:

SB-280 Landscape Architects – License Renewal – Continuing Professional Competency Requirement. This bill will adopt regulations to require a licensee to demonstrate continuing professional competency by completing a certain number of hours of professional development activities as a condition of renewal of a license to practice landscape architecture.

HB-347 Professional Engineers – Firm Permits. This bill will alter the permitting requirements for engineering firms and creates a significant process through which future firms are to be permitted. It alters current practices of business and establishes fines for violations.
There were a couple of bills that sought to improve the business environment.

SB-273 Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013. This bill will require certain state licensing units and boards to give credit to certain former service members for relevant military training, education, and experience in connection with the issuance of certain occupational and professional licenses, certificates, and registrations. While many private organizations are working with our veterans to this end, it is good to see our state take this position as well.

SB-65 Workers’ Compensation–Claim Processing–Electronic Delivery of Decisions. This legislation will allow for certain decisions to be communicated through electronic means to the affected parties. It should speed up the process and reduce paperwork.
There are many bills which would have been problematic for business which did not pass through their assigned committee or failed in one of the two chambers. Most of them are sponsored by the Chairman of the sitting committee and that means we have probably not seen the last of them by far. If a bill is successful in one chamber, you will most likely see it again with a renewed effort in the coming session. I have provided links for a more indepth look at each piece of proposed legislation.
SB-576 Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2013 (Bag Tax)-Chairman Bill
SB-554 Business Occupations and Professions - Private Process Service - Licensing and Certification-Chairman Bill
SB-528 Business Regulation - Shark Fin Soup - Prohibition on Sale or Consumption
SB-78 Maryland Home Improvement Commission - Guaranty Fund – Claims-Chairman Bill
SB-77 State Board of Plumbing - Continuing Professional Competency - Master Plumbers and Master Natural Gas Fitters-Chairman Bill
SB-57 State Board of Individual Tax Preparers - Prohibited Acts - Civil Penalty-Chairman Bill
SB-827 Streamlined Tax Administration Act of 2013 (Creation of a new Division of Business Regulation and Taxation within DLLR)
SB-469 Business Relief and Tax Fairness Act of 2013 (Combined Reporting)
HB-122 Commercial Law - Automotive Repair Facilities - Tire Repairs (Tire Removal)
HB-595 Workers' Compensation - Retaliation by Employer – Prohibition-Chairman Bill
SB-1062 Condominiums and Homeowners Associations - Attorney's Fees
SB-1059 Landlord and Tenant - Application Fees - Prospective Tenants Who Receive Housing Assistance
SB-179 Architects, Landscape Architects, and Professional Land Surveyors - Firm Permits-Chairman Bill
SB-794 Real Property - Regulation of Common Ownership Community Managers
SB-725 Business Regulation - Junk Dealers and Scrap Metal Processors - Holding Period for Junk and Scrap Metal
It is also important to recognize the legislators who were honored by Maryland Businesses for Responsive Government (MBRG) for outstanding contributions and consistently pro-business voting records. I was proud to be on this list for another year along with some of my colleagues on the Eastern Shore: Receiving awards during a recent ceremony in Annapolis were Delegates Steve Hershey, R-36-Queen Anne's; Jay Jacobs, R-36-Kent; Charles Otto, R-38A, Somerset; and Del. Mike McDermott, R- 38-B Worcester. All of us received 100% ratings from the past several legislative sessions when it came to votes impacting Maryland business.
I strongly encourage you to stay informed on the various bills impacting our state in each session. I provide regular updates during the interim and my weekly “Field Notes” on activities happening during any Session of Maryland’s General Assembly. You can sign up and review any of my press releases or postings at delegatemcdermott.com along with receiving Twitter and Facebook updates.

South Korea, US Presidents To Meet At White House Tuesday

President Barack Obama and South Korea's new leader Park Geun-hye hope to present a strong front against North Korea's nuclear threats during their high-profile meeting Tuesday at the White House. But they also want to leave the door open to talks with Pyongyang.

Park has had something of a baptism of fire since she took office in February, two weeks after North Korea's latest atomic test ratcheted up tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula and undermined her hopes of forging a more trusting relationship with a difficult neighbor.

In Washington, Park is assured of a warm reception on a visit that also marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. Her Oval Office meeting, working lunch and joint news conference with Obama will be followed Wednesday by an address to a joint meeting of Congress.

Read more

3 Ohio Women Missing for 10 Years; Listen to 911 Audio

Three women who vanished about a decade ago have been found alive. A 52-year-old man is in custody tonight in connection to this case. They had disappeared in three separate cases, but where found together in Cleveland, Ohio after one of the women escaped to a neighbor's house and called police.

On the Record played the terrifying 911 call made by Berry. She can be heard telling the operator, “I need police. […] I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m here, I’m free now.”

She identifies a Hispanic man as the kidnapper to the operator and says that he left the house but will be back soon.


Read more

Eastern Shore Landlord Accused Of Setting Fire As Tenants Slept

DELMAR — Maryland fire officials say a landlord has been charged with arson and attempted murder after a house he owned burned.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal and Delmar police arrested 42-year-old Andy Modeste of Seaford, Del., after Monday morning’s fire.

Authorities say Modeste set a fire in a crawl space of the home while Eduardo Machado and his family slept. The family was able to escape unharmed.

Read more

9/11 Memorial Fees Called ‘Slap In The Face’

Charging admission fees to the National September 11 Memorial Museum is an outrage and a “slap in the face,” said one group that represents the families of victims.

“Patriotic people from all corners of the country go to teach their children something and show respect, and now they will be faced with this fee? It is outrageous. … [It’s] a slap in the face,” said Sally Regenhard, assistant chairwoman of the 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims, in a CNN report.

The fee only furthers the image of New York City as “money-hungry,” she said in the CNN report. “It is taking advantage of tourists.”


Read more

SPD Press Release 5-7-13

 

Salisbury's Ten Newest Residents


Caption This Photo 5-6-13