On the Elevate Maryland podcast

Thanks Tom Coale, Candace Dodson Reed, and Ilana Bittner for having me as a guest on the Elevate Maryland podcast, which focuses on civic and political life from a Howard County vantage point. I join at the 20 minute mark and after a lengthy and detailed discussion of gerrymandering and the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission’s recommendations, we move on to topics like the comparative restaurant scene (E.C. vs. Rockville vs. Volt and Family Meal — must we choose?), accordions, and TV. [Player.fm, iTunes]


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Local man quoted on prospects for redistricting reform in second Hogan term

Here, by Josh Kurtz at Maryland Matters. Related: one reason Republicans on the national scene may rue their indulgence in gerrymandering is that systematically placing many seats beyond opponents’ reach in an evenly balanced electorate requires crowding a lot of them into the zone just past that (say, where the party advantage is between +4 and +8). But that leaves the gerrymandering party vulnerable to a mid-sized wave that might tip a lot of seats at once [Bernard Grofman and Thomas Brunell 2005 via John Gastil, Washington Post, “Monkey Cage” 2016]

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Maryland public employees’ Janus rights

If you’re a public employee, the Supreme Court has ruled that you have a First Amendment right to decide for yourself whether to pay agency fees to a union. You might decide, for example, that the union’s bargaining objectives do not reflect your own wishes and priorities, or that the union’s presence is simply not worth the cost to you in fees. The My Pay My Say website helps you exercise your Janus rights and assist other employees in exercising theirs.

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“Why Does Maryland Hate Airbnb?”

“A bill given serious consideration in Annapolis this spring would require platforms like Airbnb to collect detailed information about hosts and guests, retain it for up to four years, and turn it over to the state government if requested. Failure to comply with any of the rules would result in $500 fines for individual hosts, with each further violation adding another $500 to the tab. Critics say the privacy concerns and escalating fines are clearly meant to deter would-be hosts from renting out their spaces. The bill’s sponsor, Del. William Frick (D–Montgomery County), hails from the district that not-so-coincidentally contains Marriott’s new, state-subsidized corporate headquarters.” [Eric Boehm, Reason]

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In miniature, July 4

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State Democrats meddle — to no avail — in District 3 primary

My June 18 letter to the editor in the Frederick News-Post urged county political leadership to condemn the deceitful mailer series launched by state Democrats seeking to meddle in the District 3 Senate primary. I was responding to the first mailer in what turned out to be a series of six, ostensibly critical of councilmember Billy Shreve as being too close to President Trump but in fact sent to Republicans in the apparent hope of boosting Shreve’s chances of being the GOP nominee.

Sen. Michael Hough, Republican senator for adjacent District 4, went on Jennifer Charlton’s WFMD radio show to explain (at 13:45 in this clip) how the “Todd Akin” gambit works. At 16:20 he says:

The Democrats are going to drop about fifty thousand bucks into this primary on behalf of Billy Shreve. And the part that really is outrageous? Billy Shreve went on a radio show and laughed about it and said, “I share a lot of common interests with them. I like these guys.” He thinks it’s great. To me, I find it totally outrageous and it would be very destructive, quite frankly, if they’re allowed to get away with this.

The next week I was a guest on Jennifer’s show and had a chance to discuss the issue myself.

I can report that the series of six expensive mailers appears to have been an almost complete waste of the Democrats’ money: Craig Giangrande won in a blowout, 77 to 23 percent.

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“Equity policy” scheme aims at injecting racial politics into every Montgomery County decision

A project of Councilmember Nancy Navarro, it goes too far even for three Democrats representing the saner end of their party’s spectrum in the County Executive race, Rose Krasnow, David Blair, and Bill Frick. It is backed by three other council members currently running for that higher post, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal. [Seventh State]

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In miniature, June 5

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Good news: Maryland’s lawsuit-climate ranking improves

At least by comparison with other states: Maryland’s U.S. Chamber rank among the states in lawsuit climate has been rising, from #33 in 2012 to #28 in 2015 to #19 in 2017. “This is the first time Maryland has been ranked higher than 20th place since the survey was first published in 2002.” [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]

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Some thoughts on conversion-therapy bans

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has signed into law the bill banning “conversion therapy” for minors. He is the fifth Republican governor to sign such a bill.

Now that it’s too late to matter, I’m going to be contrarian and observe that even if one considers the exercise of “gay cure” therapy on kids as quackery deserving of scorn and condemnation (which is basically my view) there are reasons that might give pause not to legislate a ban. They include:

1) Some under-18 persons may seek this therapy of their own will and not all necessarily do so under pressure from the adults in their lives;

2) Legislatures may not be a good place to define and ban quack therapies compared with, say, expert professional bodies or courts hearing malpractice cases;

3) In Maryland, or so I am told, such practice is already defunct because of peer pressure and malpractice-risk scrutiny, even if it continues in some other states;

4) These laws have a momentum and before long legislatures may be asked to ban it even for consenting adults and from lay as opposed to licensed therapists, maybe even in do-it-yourself formats like kits or books (as critics say would be the effect of legislation in California);

5) Religion is special under the Constitution and this would not be the first time government might want to tread extra-carefully around quack therapeutic practices that are closely tied up with believers’ religious convictions;

6) While the failings of orientation-change therapy have been well aired for years, we might not be as far along in understanding the different issues presented by therapy in the area of gender expression. .

All of which helps explain persons I respect might come out on either side.

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