Mobtown Beat
News Mobtown Beat

How legislators in Baltimore City's six districts fared in Annapolis this election year

Now that primary elections in Maryland are held in June rather than September, state legislators' performances in the 90-day sessions in Annapolis, which end in April, are fresh meat on the campaign trail as voters contemplate who they'll back at the polls. This year's races are the first state elections since the calendar change was made in 2011, and a mere 78 days separate the April 7 end of this year's session and the June 24 primary, so the time is ripe to assess how Baltimore City's members of the Maryland General Assembly performed.

Now that baseball season is upon us, an analysis that produces "batting averages" of lawmakers' work-the percentage of sponsored bills passed by both the House and the Senate, out of all bills sponsored-provides a fun and relevant way to measure their competence.

Overall, the city's six senators and 18 delegates, all Democrats, sponsored 397 bills, 98 of which passed both chambers, producing a .247 batting average. That's a little better than what Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was doing at the plate as of April 21. But just as Davis' hits are not all equally impressive-a home run is generally a bigger crowd-pleaser than a bloop single-these 98 successful bills are not equally significant.

To get a read on the substance of each legislator's accomplishments-or lack thereof-this analysis breaks down the results by the city's six districts, ranks them first to last, and then ranks the individual legislators by their batting averages, offering an opportunity to take a more detailed gander at each incumbent's package of successful bills.

A bill's passage in both chambers does not make it law-only those forwarded to the governor, and signed, get on the books-so not all of legislation described below will necessarily be enacted. Passage is, however, a pertinent measure of a proposal's success, and the substance and degree of legislators' accomplishments on this score may help or hinder those challenging them in the upcoming elections-and nearly all the city's races are competitive this year.

First Place: The 43rd District Bills Sponsored: 94
Bills Passed: 37
Batting Average: .394, better than Orioles right fielder Delmon Young

The Northeast Baltimore district's heaviest hitter is state Del. Mary Washington, who sponsored five winning bills, producing a .417 average. One ended the practice of shackling incarcerated women during labor and childbirth, while three dealt with issues of homelessness by giving tuition waivers for public higher education to homeless youth, establishing a Joint Committee on Ending Homelessness in the legislature, and directing the Department of Housing and Community Development to conduct a demonstration project to more accurately count the population of homeless youth, including young adults. The fifth helped streamline the disciplinary appeal and grievance procedures for state workers.

Next up is state Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who sponsored 24 bills passed by both chambers, producing a .414 average-also better than Young's. As chair of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, though, Conway's legislative plate is filled with technocratic bills tweaking the governing game over arcane corners of life. Most of her successful bills did such things as give a legal definition of pear cider and electric bicycles, adjust the scope of practice for licensed podiatrists, and set membership for the State Board of Nursing's Electrology Practice Committee. Among the substantive measures passed under Conway's sponsorship were measures to up the penalties for voting offenses and to shift campaign-finance filing deadlines to comport with the new election calendar.

State Del. Maggie McIntosh, who chairs the House Environmental Matters Committee, navigated five bills through both houses for a .357 batting average-better than what Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is doing this season. Four of her bills reformed real estate taxation in Baltimore City with an eye to retaining homeowners and making sure tax-exempt properties are entitled to their exemptions. The fifth revised and extended the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund, a thus-far unfunded pool of state funding to promote rural economic development.

State Del. Curt Anderson's .300 average, slightly better than Orioles second-baseman Steve Lombardozzi's, was achieved with three successful bills. One eliminates criminal charges against people who let others drive vehicles they rented and those who drive vehicles rented by others. The other two adjust how funeral parlors are overseen by the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors. As the chair of Baltimore City's House delegation, Anderson's legislative workload also includes shepherding City Hall's agenda through the General Assembly.

In the Democratic primary, Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry (4th District) is challenging Conway, while Timothy Vance (facebook.com/Tvance2014) aims to unseat one of the incumbent delegates. Unaffiliated candidate Gregory Dorsey (gregdorseyunaffiliated.com) aims to have his name appear on the general-election ballot for delegate on Nov. 4, should he meet the petition-signature requirement to do so.

Second Place: The 46th District Bills Sponsored: 51
Bills Passed: 15
Batting Average: .294, better than Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop

The waterfront district's top batting average was an amazing .750 by state Del. Brian McHale. The only baseball players who achieve such lofty averages are the ones who rarely go to bat-as was the case with McHale, who sponsored only four bills, a load so light only two other city legislators tried less. Still, three out of four is a good way to go out for a retiring veteran like McHale, who is not seeking re-election this year. His three successful measures established fixed charges for Baltimore City taxi services, expanded microbrewing opportunities in the city, and ordered the state to study whether to establish occupational safety and health prequalification requirements for public-works contractors.

State Del. Peter Hammen's .444 batting average, fueled by passage of four bills, is better than any of the Orioles. Since he chairs the House Health and Government Operations Committee, it's no surprise that three of his successful bills deal with health-related issues: one to allow the Developmental Disabilities Administration to help more disabled people with low-intensity support services, one to make specialty drugs for treating certain medical conditions more affordable to insured patients, and one to create a workgroup to resolve disputes between health care providers and insurance carriers. The fourth assures that the inactive Cox Creek Citizens Oversight Committee, which manages issues involved with the placement of dredging spoils in Anne Arundel County, continues to include a member from the 46th District.

State Sen. Bill Ferguson's seven successful bills gave him a .250 batting average, about the same as Schoop and Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. Two were the Senate versions of McHale's taxi-services bill and Hammen's Cox Creek measure. Another expands the membership of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the regional council of Baltimore-area governments, and adds regional transportation, housing, workforce development, and renewable energy to the issues it addresses. The others assure that child-care centers meet higher nutritional and physical-activity standards; require the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention to conduct annual forecasts of the state's incarcerated juvenile-charged-as-adult population; prescribe how liquor licenses are transferred in a two-block stretch of East Fort Avenue in Riverside and Locust Point; and establish the State Council on Open Data to implement policies that ease public access to government data.

Batting one for 10 is state Del. Luke Clippinger, below such poor-performing Orioles as right fielder David Lough and left fielder Steve Pearce. But Clippinger's lone success was substantive, assuring that distracted drivers using cellphones who cause or contribute to deadly or life-threatening accidents provide police with information about their phones, and setting maximum penalties at one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Challenging Ferguson in the Democratic primary is Mateen Rasul Zar (zarforstatesenate.com), and while McHale is not running for re-election, three Democrats are challenging Hammen and Clippinger: Liam Davis (voteliamdavis.com), Brooke Lierman (brookelierman.com), and Bill Romani (billromani.com). Three Republicans will be on the general-election ballot: Roger Bedingfield (roger446.com), Joseph "Joh" Sedtal, and Duane Shelton.

Third Place: The 40th District Bills Sponsored: 90
Bills Passed: 18
Batting Average: .200, the same as Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger

It's not due to state Sen. Catherine Pugh that this West Baltimore district comes in third in the rankings; her .381 batting average, better than Delmon Young's, was built by successful passage of a whopping 16 bills, second only to Conway among the city's legislators. Like Conway, her list is too long to give complete treatment, so here are a few highlights: the Senate versions of McHale's microbrewing bill and state Del. Nathaniel Oaks' naturopathic medicine bill; required public-school student training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, including use of a defibrillator; easing the provision of preventive-care incentives by health insurance carriers to providers; and broadening the circumstances under which one may qualify as a resident artist eligible for arts and entertainment district benefits.

The second-place batter in the 40th District this session, with a .091 average-well below the Orioles' worst-was Del. Shawn Tarrant, who successfully sponsored the House version of Pugh's health insurance incentives bill. Next up was state Del. Barbara Robinson's .077 average, gained due to passage of a bill establishing a confidentiality program for victims of human-trafficking crimes to deter unwanted contact from perpetrators. Del. Frank Conaway Jr. did not sponsor a bill that passed both chambers, and so batted .000.

Pugh has a free ride this election season, but the delegates' race is packed: Douglas Barry (dougbarry.org), Marvin "Doc" Cheatham (electcheatham.com), Quianna Cooke (qcookedistrict40.com), Antonio Hayes (antoniolhayes.com), Rob "Bobby" LaPin (roblapin.com), Bill Marker (billmarker.org), and Timothy Mercer are running in the Democratic primary.

Fourth Place: The 41st District Bills Sponsored: 91
Bills Passed: 18
Batting Average: .198, almost as good as Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger

With a .400 batting average, state Del. Nathaniel Oaks tops this Northwest Baltimore district's group of legislators-though it's a misleading distinction, since only two Oaks bills passed both chambers, the district's lowest number. One establishes the Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Committee of the State Board of Physicians. The other allows reimbursement for expenses for members of the Citizens' Advisory Council for the Baltimore Corridor Transit Study - Red Line, Baltimore's proposed 14-mile rapid-transit line-including its co-chair, Rodney Orange, an Oaks campaign donor.

Public-safety issues propelled state Sen. Lisa Gladden's .208 batting average-a little better than Clevenger's. This is to be expected, since she works as an assistant public defender and is vice chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where such bills tend to be assigned. In addition to the Senate version of state Del. Jill Carter's juvenile-court bill, Gladden's proposals that passed both chambers include measures to assure that a family member of a homicide victim sits on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and to improve eyewitness identification procedures used by police. Gladden, who brings her dog to Annapolis for the session, also ushered through two dog-related measures, making it a crime for non-veterinarians to cut off or crop a dog's ear, tail, or dewclaw, and to surgically "devocalize" a dog or cat.

The 41st District's most prolific legislator, who sponsored seven bills that passed both chambers this year, is state Del. Samuel "Sandy" Rosenberg-but, due to large number of bills he sponsored overall, his batting average is a low .179, not much higher than Steve Pearce's. Rosenberg's successful measures create greater access to tax credits for urban agricultural property; extend the reporters' privilege to not be compelled to disclose sources to independent contractors working for news outlets; improve maintenance standards at state-owned cemeteries; ease repayments for recipients of state higher-education loans; wind up the affairs of a defunct lawyers liability-insurance scheme; and establish the Maryland Technology Internship Program to provide participants with opportunities in the state's technology industry.

State Del. Jill Carter's .174 batting average is a little better than Pearce's. Her four successful bills were: Christopher's Law, which institutes improvements to required police training and was proposed in memory of Christopher Brown, killed by a Baltimore County cop in 2012; and measures establishing a joint committee to conduct a study about the Maryland Public Information Act, increasing salaries and pension pay for Baltimore City Orphans' Court Judges, and giving judges in criminal cases greater discretion to transfer them to juvenile court.

Gladden is facing Democratic competition from Will Hanna (hanna4senate.net), while Michael Pearson and Joyce Smith are challenging the incumbent delegates in the Democratic primary.

Fifth Place: The 44th District Bills Sponsored: 51
Bills Passed: 8
Batting Average: .157, little better than the Orioles' worst batters

State Del. Keiffer Mitchell leads the pack in this West/Southwest Baltimore district, with a .250 batting average, the same as Hardy. His two successful measures were the House version of Bill Ferguson's Baltimore Metropolitan Council bill and an increase in the refundable amount under the state's earned-income credit program.

Coming in second was state Del. Melvin Stukes' .200 batting average, the same as Clevenger's. Stukes sponsored two bills-one establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day as an official commemorative day in Maryland, and the other providing for reimbursement of attorney's fees in foreclosures-that passed both chambers.

State Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell's three successful bills earned her a .150 batting average, a little better than Pearce and David Lough, the Orioles' worst performers at the plate. Two involved booze-a comprehensive set of reforms aimed at cleaning up the Baltimore City liquor board, and a measure allowing the liquor board to issue a license in the 44th district-and the other established a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Workgroup on community health workers.

State Del. Keith Haynes' sole successful bill-a measure establishing a social-work scholarship named after the late state Del. Ruth Kirk-earned him a .077 batting average, worse than the worst-hitting Orioles.

Redistricting has shifted the 44th's boundaries to incorporate Baltimore County precincts. What was shaping up to be a competitive race between Jones-Rodwell and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, currently a delegate representing Baltimore County's 10th District, quickly subsided with Jones-Rodwell's recent announcement that she is retiring, leaving Nathan-Pulliam to face Republican Bernard Reiter in November. The three incumbent delegates are competing to represent a new, single-seat District 44A.

 

Sixth Place: The 45th District Bills Sponsored: 20
Bills Passed: 2
Batting Average: .100, worse than the Orioles' poorest hitters

A .500 batting average is stupendous in baseball-unless it is earned by getting one hit out of only two at-bats. Such is the case with this East Baltimore district's top performer, state Del. Talmadge Branch, whose sole success was sponsoring the House version of Jones-Rodwell's liquor-board reform package.

Del. Cheryl Glenn's .091 batting average is due to her sponsorship of the only other bill sponsored by a 45th District legislator to pass both chambers: a proposal to establish a workable medical-marijuana system in Maryland. None of bills sponsored by state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden passed both chambers, and Del. Nina Harper did not sponsor any legislation.

McFadden is being challenged by Democrat Julius Henson, with unaffiliated candidate Daton Lynch hoping to get enough petition signatures to appear on the general-election ballot. Harper is not seeking to keep her seat, and the two remaining incumbent delegates are facing challenges from Democrats Marques Dent (dentfordelegate.com), Cory McCray (electcorymccray.com), Kevin Parson (kevinparson.com), Harry Spikes (harryspikesfordelegate.com), Robert Stokes, and Aaron Keith Wilkes. Republican candidates for delegate Rick Safferty and Larry Wardlow will appear on the general-election ballot, while Ronald Owens-Bey is seeking the Libertarian Party nomination.

Copyright © 2015, Baltimore City Paper
Comments
Loading
72°