Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More Than Just a "Bathroom Bill"

Yesterday, MDPetitions.com, led by Delegate Neil Parrott, and Delegate Kathy Szeliga announced a petition drive to put the "Fairness for All Marylanders Act" on this fall's ballot.  The legislation, commonly referred to as the "Bathroom Bill", would radically redefine, in reality undefine, gender in Maryland.

While everyone should sign this petition, my wife and I did so before I wrote this piece, much of the rhetoric around this legislation has failed to alert the public to the enormously radical nature of this bill.  While the concern that hairy men will put on dresses and walk in on our wives and daughters in public bathrooms may be justified, it diminishes the true social and cultural impact of this new law.

The "Bathroom Bill" changed Maryland law, millenia of human experience, religious tradition, and biology itself by defining gender as follows:

“GENDER IDENTITY” MEANS THE GENDER–RELATED IDENTITY, APPEARANCE, EXPRESSION, OR BEHAVIOR OF A PERSON, REGARDLESS OF THE PERSON’S ASSIGNED SEX AT BIRTH, WHICH MAY BE DEMONSTRATED BY: (1) CONSISTENT AND UNIFORM ASSERTION OF THE PERSON’S GENDER IDENTITY; OR (2) ANY OTHER EVIDENCE THAT THE GENDER IDENTITY IS SINCERELY HELD AS PART OF THE PERSON’S CORE IDENTITY.

This act now embodies in our state law the revolutionary notion that your gender is not immutable, objective or assigned but subjective, changeable and ultimately, irrelevant.  Our legislature has imprinted on the Maryland Annotated Code the radical social philosophy that no man, government, nature, nor God himself can tell you what gender you are or will be in the future.

The social ramifications of such a philosophy go far beyond which bathroom does one choose in a public place.  It completely undermines traditional notions of gender roles, marriage and family that have been a foundational building block of human civilization for millenia. It goes far beyond the same-sex marriage debate, as even that issue assumed some objective, involuntary sexual orientation.  This new law obliterates any notion of gender distinction itself and certainly any notion that such identification is involuntary. After all, under the definition in this statute, homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply extensions of subjective and perfectly malleable feelings which need only at the time in question be "sincerely held as part of the person's core identity."

Presented in this light, most Marylanders who might otherwise prefer a "live and let live" approach or who may demure from participation in the ongoing culture wars can see that this is just a bridge too far and a radical change to which they could not subscribe.

Which is why reducing the discussion to which bathroom someone might use is trivializing the momentous.  The concerns are valid, as other states have had these sorts of negative experiences and the consequences are very real.  But such talk is so easily parried by a left wing culture and media as fear mongering and religious based oppression.  Such a line of attack was taken by Delegate Heather Mizeur during the House debate when she shed crocodile tears over her "disappointment" in the level of discourse on the measure.

Indeed, many of the LGBTA-friendly moderate Republicans and libertarians in our state will use this rhetoric to assail the effort itself and those who support it.  They will raise phony concerns of electability to object to what they, no doubt, will view as another right wing social crusade destined for failure. But such a view only gives aid and comfort to the small minority of left wing radicals trying to dismantle every facet of traditional culture in our state.

Such a radical realignment of who we are as people and how we organize our society should not be left to the General Assembly, but to the voters themselves. That is why this issue must be debated fully and honestly, not in the final days of the General Assembly session by politicians, but by the public who can appreciate and fully grapple with the import of what this law will do.

If you agree, sign the petition.


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Re-elect Delegate Justin Ready

When Red Maryland first started making endorsements four years ago, one of the candidates we endorsed was a challenger in House District 5A named Justin Ready. At the time, we wrote:

If there is one thing that best defines Justin Ready, it's his ideological consistency. Justin Ready is a conservative's conservative. he is for reforming education spending so that we actually educate students instead of grow bureaucracies. He's a strong supporter of both the Right to Life as well as our Second Amendment rights. Justin believes in legitimate health care reform that will allow portability of coverage and real reductions in health care costs while increasing the availability of coverage. And like all of our Republican members of the General Assembly in Annapolis should believe, Justin Ready supports cutting wasteful spending, and providing meaningful tax relief to Maryland's middle and working class families.
I'd say that we nailed that one.

During his first four years in Annapolis, Delegate Ready has been at the forefront of fighting for all of those things, a leading voice on issues protecting the Right to Life, gun rights, wasteful spending and tax relief. Justin has been one of the champions on our side in Annapolis. Has he been perfect, no. He did vote for the Obamacare enabling legislation in 2011, but he faced his crtitics (including us) with aplomb and calmly explained his rationale. While we didn't agree with his decision, it is hardly a reason not to return him to office next year.

Justin's voting record in Annapolis has been so conservative, that some of his opponents in the wild, nine-candidate primary are finding strange ways to attack him. Former Delegate Carmen Amedori (who has had a quixotic political career to say the least) went so far as to say that Ready and other conservatives " delegates turned their backs on education, in an effort to show they are "conservative" as it relates to the controversial email from Senator Getty regarding pork-barrel funding for Carroll County.

If Delegate Ready's opponents find the only thing they can attack him on is his committment to fiscal responsibiltiy, that says a lot about Delegate Ready.

In our 2010 endorsement, we stated that "we believe JustinReady is best suited to represent the interests of the people of Carroll County, as well as the interests of all of Maryland's families." We still do. Red Maryland strongly endorses the re-election of Delegate Justin Ready in District 5.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Silly Season

In the middle of serious campaigns about serious issues, sometimes we get stuff like......this.

On last week's Red Maryland Radio we talked about candidate mailers and how they are a peek into the soul of a campaign. One of the mentions we mentioned was that of Gus Kurtz, candidate for Delegate in District 31B, who included copies of his voter registration cards on his lit piece. The rumor mill had been swirling that he had recently been a registered Democrat, so the idea that he would incldue this information on his lit piece gave creddence to the concerns about this rumor.

Well apparently there was more to it than just that, because the lit piece apparently became a full-blown kerfluffle thanks to one of his opponents, Meagan Simonaire:

In April 2012 and November 2013 - the issue dates of the cards - Kurtz was a registered Republican, according to the State Board of Elections.  
He was also a Republican from 1982 until 2002. But from 2002 to April 20, 2012, he was registered as a Democrat, according to the elections board.
In an April 19 release, one of Kurtz's opponents, Simonaire, said the mailer had misled voters. She believed Kurtz had been a registered Democrat from 1982 until he switched to the GOP in 2012. 
Simonaire, the 23-year-old daughter of state Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, called for a public apology from Kurtz, or the resignation of his campaign manager, Erik Robey. 
"The problem is that the people were only given one piece of the puzzle: the photo, and that leads to the wrong conclusion ... Bottom line: it was a very deceptive attempt to make the people think he has been a lifelong Republican."
And to that I say "so what?" Do I have a problem that Kurtz was a registered Democrat from the last ten years before switching back to be a Democrat? Insofar that he is running as a Republican I do, sure. Do I think that Kurtz misled the voters? Not exactly. The quote attached to the piece says that "Gus is a strong conservative Republican." Didn't say lifelong Republican. Didn't say he had never been a Democrat. So the piece does address one of Kurtz's key weaknesses, but to say that it was "misleading" is a bit of a stretch.

This isn't exactly the kind of press that Meagan Simonaire needs. From everything I can tell the main qualification that she is running on is that her father is a State Senator. For example, her campaign signs seem to be going only in locations where her father has had signs in the previous elections. Pasadena isn't exactly the kind of area that is going to look too kindly to nepotism. Demanding an apology from Kurtz or the resignation of his campaign manager over what she perceives to be a "misleading" mailer shows to me a lack of political maturity. And by picking this fight as the first "issue" that has broken her out from the pack isn't exactly going to help Simonaire's cause of standing out as a serious challenger in this district.

To be fair, Kurtz hasn't exactly come off in the best light during this "controversy" either:

On Friday Kurtz said he never responded to Simonaire's initial call for a public apology because "she didn't deserve a response."
  
"She just put out a press release to try to defame me and she also didn't realize I had been a Republican for 20 years prior. If I've been a Republican for 22 years and a Democrat for 10, what point is she trying to make?" Kurtz said. "I've been a Republican almost as long as she's been alive."
So instead of just letting it be, Kurtz instead doubles down on it and draws more attention to his status as a former Democrat and takes a shot at Simonaire's age to boot.

What we have seen in this exchange are two candidates who really didn't need a reason for voters not to vote for them, and both wound up giving votes exactly that. When challening two incumbent Republicans with high name ID in a field that includes eight total candidates, mistakes like that are killers. Republican primary votes are looking for candidates who are both pillars of the community and are focused on the issues that matter to improving our state and our county. Pissing contests about mailers from candidates with no established credibility with the votes is not going to do either of them any good.

As a voter in District 31B, there's two candidates I know I won't be casting a ballot for....

EDIT: This says it rather succinctly


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Maryland General Assembly Approved $16 Million in New Pork Spending for Local Projects


The Maryland General Assembly approved $16 million in new debt for 156 local pork projects during the 2014 legislative session.

Known in Annapolis as bond bills, they are submitted by legislators, but are not voted on individually by the assembly, rather they are added to the capital budget via the amendment process.  The projects are funded through general obligation bonds authorized in the Maryland Consolidated Capital Bond Loan 0f 2014, which totaled $1.2 billion.



According to the 2014 90 Day Report, Montgomery County led all jurisdictions with $2.5 million in bond bill funding for items such as $300,000 for renovations of The Writers Center at Glen Echo Park, and $100,000 for repair and renovations of the Black Box Theater.

Baltimore City and Prince George’s County received $2.4 and $2.3 million in new local bond bill funding. 


Funding for new local bond projects decreased by nearly $4 billion from last year.  Total capital budget spending on bond bills, which includes projects approved in previous sessions, totaled $61 million. 


According to previous 90 Day Reports, since 2007 the legislature has approved $146 million in new local bond projects averaging $18.2 million per year.


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Monday, April 28, 2014

Conservative Refuge Radio 4-28-14

Red Maryland Network presents another episode of its hit new show, Conservative Refuge Radio.

More Politics Conservative Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with redmaryland on BlogTalkRadio


On tap for this episode:


Send us your feedback to redmaryland@gmail.com , facebook.com/redmaryland or @redmaryland

Don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes and on Stitcher. 


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Sunday, April 27, 2014

MDGOP Spring Convention Notebook

This frankly was probably one of the more uneventful MDGOP Conventions that we have seen in a long time.

For a flavor of Friday night's events, I'll direct you to our marathon broadcast from Friday night, where Greg, Mark, and Andrew held down the fort for almost three hours. It was clearly the most happening spot of the night during that part of the convention.

I was in the Executive Committee meeting in my capacity as Young Republicans Chairman. No real major business was conducted, though we discussed Kevin Waterman's proposed bylaw amendment, announced Trey Gowdy as the Speaker of this year's Red White and Blue Dinner, and had cake for Chairman Diana Waterman's birthday.

After that and the broadcast wound down, the hospitality suites were sparse. The Liberty Campaign and the Charles Lollar campaign had events earlier in the evening, which left only three other suites; Craig/Haddaway, the Montgomery County Central Committee, and a young conservative candidates event organized by Eugene Craig.

Saturday morning I didn't arrive until about 9:30. I know that former Lt. Governor Michael Steele spoke at breakfast about minority outreach. I went up to the Hogan breakfast event which took place on Saturday morning and had some delicious Chick-fil-a.

The convention itself was rather uneventful, except for a few things:

  • The Central Committees unanimously adopted a resolution condemning House Bill 1513;
  • Kevin Waterman moved to have his bylaw amendment regarding regional chairs discsused; it was handily defeated for consideration. Oddly, several Committee members decided to speak at length about how we should not waste time disucssing it. Even odder is the fact that it was the opinion of a few Central Committee members that because the Bylaws Committee rejected the amendment, the body should not consider it; a distrubing thought that entrusts the Bylaws Committee with far too much power;
  • Charles Lollar was announced as the winner of the straw poll with 68 votes; Hogan had 62, Craig 60; George 29, and undecided 9.
  • Diana Waterman gave a very passionate speeech about unity within the party and committment to the Republican Party and Republican causes. It was a very dynamic speech that I wish had been recorded somewhere, though I doubt that the people who really needed the message were actually listening to it.
And that was the convention. There was an hour-or-so break between that and some workshops, but I had to head home so I missed those and the dinner with Carly Fiorina.

Here's a flavor of the convention, below, from the Twitterverse:


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MDGOP 2014 Spring Convention Show



Parts 1-3 of our live broadcast from MDGOP Spring 2014 Convention at the Doubletree Hotel in Bethesda Maryland.  Greg Kline, Mark Newgent and former colleague Andrew Langer hosting. 

Part 1
  • We set the stage for the convention; 
  • Mike Esteve, joins us to talk about his new group Millennial Maryland;
  • Derek Hunter gets a load of Andrew's "douche jacket;"
  • We break down the Maryland gubernatorial field.

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Part 2:
  • Dan Bongino rips the Montgomery Gazette and updates us on his surging congressional campaign;
  • WMAL talk show host Larry O'Connor shares his thoughts on the convention and the gubernatorial race, and internet radio;
  • Andrew give the details on his new podcast on the RELM Network;
  • Ryan Miner stops by to talk about his campaign for Washington County Board of Education;
  • Red Maryland News Director Duane Keenan gives his roving reports from the convention;
  • Corey Stottlemeyer candidate for Maryland State Senate in District 3 gives us an update on the campaign.


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Part 3:


  • Darren Wigfield, running for House of Delegates in District 3B stops by to talk about his race. 
  • Brian Griffiths and Fiona Moodie talk about Fight Club or MDGOP Executive Committee, and her run for PG County Council;
  • Our former colleague Jackie Wellfonder drops by to join in the fun;
  • A discussion of the changes at Freedomworks.


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Friday, April 25, 2014

The Self-Beclowning of The Gazette Editorial Board

The Gazette in Montgomery County has made a bizarre endorsement in the 6th Congressional District Primary.

You might not realize there are two candidates in the race. One is Dan Bongino, who of course has we have endorsed. But there's a second candidate, Harold Painter. And The Gazette editorial board picks him:

Painter, a certified public accountant from Gaithersburg, insists that the 6th District have a representative who lives there. (While the district includes parts of Potomac, Delaney actually lives in Van Hollen’s district.)
Having grown up in Western Maryland, where he still has family, Painter says he’s best suited to represent blue-collar families and their needs. Many of his positions put him — refreshingly — at odds with conventional GOP orthodoxy. For example, he advocates raising income taxes on the rich and cutting them for the working class. But he also demonstrates a disturbing inability to grasp the complexities of important issues, such as a self-professed ignorance of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Painter, although weak on the issues, is a better option for Montgomery than Bongino, so Painter gets The Gazette’s endorsement.
So to recap, The Gazette endorses the candidate who they admit is at odds with key issues that are important to Republican voters and cannot grasp the issues that are important to being a member of Congress.

The insanity of The Gazette endorsement is even more profound when you realize that Harold Painter is just some guy that no Republican activist I have met seems to know. He has no website. No Twitter presence. No Facebook presence. No record of activism in the Republican Party. The one donation he has made in Maryland Politics was to a Democrat, former Charles County Commissioner and current Maryland Higher Education Commission Member Edith Patterson, who is running for Delegate this election as a Democrat.

The Gazette can't possibly be serious with their endorsement, can they? This just has to be a rib, or some sort of beef with Dan Bongino right?




Regardless of the seriousness of their endorsement, The Gazette editorial board seriously underminded their credibility with their endorsement in this race. While they are free to endorse whomever they choose, even a guy like Harold Painter who is not going to win the primary. But endorsing the candidate that they freely admit is out of touch with his own party and his unqualified for the job is insulting to the voters of the 6th District as well as to Dan Bongino, who has actually been doing work in trying to give the people of the 6th District a real choice at the ballot box in November.


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Maryland's Renewable Energy Policies To Cost Billions


According to a study by the Beacon Hill Institute, Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard will impose steep opportunity costs on Marylanders for electricity. 

The report estimates that total net cost of Governor O’Malley’s renewable energy mandates will cost $3.3 billion by 2022 and cause electricity prices to increase by 0.62 cents a 6 percent increase.  In 2022 the mandate will impose a $474 million cost on state electricity costs.

The Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard requires state utilities to derive 20 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable sources by 2022.  The program began as a modest mandate under former Governor Bob Ehrlich, however upon taking office O’Malley increased the mandate and made several other changes including special carve outs for solar and wind power. 



Utilities satisfy the mandate, not by increasing renewable energy source, but by purchasing renewable energy credits. Those credits can also be banked and sold to other utilities.   Utilities are allowed to pass on to customers, the cost of purchasing credits. 

The Beacon Hill report does not focus on emissions, instead it studies the opportunity costs of the O’Malley administration picking winners and losers.  The authors concede that the renewable energy mandate will generate benefits for a small group of favored industries.  

However: 

But all of Maryland’s electricity customers will pay higher rates, diverting resources away from spending on other sectors as well as reducing business investment. The increase in electricity prices will harm the competitiveness of the state’s businesses, as the costs of inputs increase particularly in the energy-intensive manufacturing industries. Firms with high electricity usage will likely move their production, and emissions, out of Maryland to locations with lower electricity prices. Therefore, the RES policy will not reduce global emissions, but rather send jobs and capital investment outside the state.
 As a result, Maryland residents will have fewer employment opportunities as they watch investment flee to other states with more favorable business climates. Policymakers should monitor the utilities RES compliance reports for further cost increases and act, if necessary, to curb the mandates that benefit only a few special interests.

The Maryland Public Service Commission does monitor the program and utilities compliance reports and submits its own annual report to the legislature.  However, portions of the utility compliance reports are not available for public inspection. The PSC denied a Watchdog Wire public records request for BG&E, PEPCO, and Delmarva compliance reports stating, “your request covers records that were filed confidentially because they contain confidential financial information.”  The Public Service Commission denies the public the right to know who sold state utilities the renewable energy credits, the costs of which are born by the rate paying public.

State renewable portfolio standards are also a draw for green energy rent seekers, attracting speculators looking to cash in on renewable energy credit trading market.   We can’t know who is cashing in on trading Maryland’s renewable energy credits because the Public Service won’t release that information.

Previous commission reports have noted “upward pressure” on renewable energy credits due to the solar carve out and that the O’Malley administration’s manipulation of the law reduced supply, increased demand, and thereby increased the price of credits.  Furthermore, the graduated percentage increases in the law act as automatic price hikes.  Indeed, the 2011 PSC Report found that renewable energy credit owners were banking 90 percent of their RECs for sale in future years. 

Maryland electric ratepayers should be concerned that they are financing a renewable energy asset bubble.


O’Malley first ran for office on the promise of rolling back electric rates, however rates have increased 39 percent over his two terms.    

*Reflects average price for February 2014


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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Red Maryland Radio: 4/24/2014

It wasnother big episode of  Red Maryland Radio comes at you tonight on the Red Maryland Network, as we celebrate Greg, Mark, and I all being in the same place at the same time.

New Politics Conservative Podcasts with redmaryland on BlogTalkRadio


On tonight's show:
  • I wrote a piece about Heather Mizeur you might of heard about. We discuss;
  • There's a new poll out in the Governor's race;
  • We'll talk about political direct mail and how it's a window into the strengths and weaknesses of a particular candidate;
  • A discsussion about the new piece by Richard Cross on the Two MDGOPs.
  • And a preview of this weekend's State Party Convention, from which we will broadcast on Friday night.
This is why you can't afford to miss Red Maryland Radio each and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes and on Stitcher.


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Next Governor Will Inherit $400 Million Structural Deficit

Governor Martin O'Malley will leave his successor with a lovely house warming gift of a $404 million structural deficit.

Although Governor O’Malley’s fiscal 2015 budget reduced the structural deficit from $506 million to 236 million, the on ongoing imbalance between spending and revenues Maryland’s chronic structural deficit will increase by $168 million in fiscal 2016 according to the 90 Day Report for the 2014 Legislative Session.

After each legislative session, The Maryland Depart of Legislative Services produces a 90 Day Report detailing the state budget and major bills passed by the legislature in several policy areas.

The 90 Day Report also estimates a $395 million cash shortfall and that though revenues are expected to increase by 4.6 percent between 2015-2016, they would need to rise by 7.1 percent to keep pace with spending.



The total fiscal 2015 budget increases by $1.6 billion to $39 billion, a 4.3 percent increase. General fund spending increases $479 million over fiscal 2014, a 3.1 percent increase.

The next governor will also inherit from O’Malley rapidly increasing debt payments totaling $557 million by fiscal 2019.






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