Afternoon Read: Maryland House Passes Septic Bill

State of Maryland

The Maryland House passed the septic bill Friday amid Republican protest that the measure is a sign of growing state control over rural and agriculture land.

The bill is Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature land preservation legislation and would limit where residential septic systems can be installed.

Intended to reduce pollution in Chesapeake Bay, the bill would require county governments to establish a four-tier system for septic use, ultimately limiting where residential subdivisions can be located.

First Read — DMV

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Bloomberg and Sanders Head-to-Head Among Virginia Primary Voters

Virginia Lawmakers Reject Assault Weapon Ban

Via The Maryland Reporter:

"That was one small step for a man, but this is one giant leap for this General Assembly when you step forward with this process,” Del. Michael McDermott, R-Wicomico.,said. “You are dictating a mandate by the state of Maryland over county governments…who have spent their time to debate how their county will grow and develop.”

“There is no compensation for the loss of property rights,” said Del. Mike Smigiel, R-Caroline. “If you remember a few years back, if you’re a student of history, the Khmer Rouge came into power [in Cambodia] they moved everybody out of the cities, out into the country. We’re doing just the opposite.”

According to The Maryland Reporter, local jurisdictions can draw their own maps but must consult with the state planning department and hold a public hearing if there is a disagreement between the state and a jurisdiction

The tiers are as follows:

"Tier-one areas are served by local water and sewer systems and are not designated growth areas under the bill.

Tier-two areas are planned growth areas where water and sewer will be extended from existing municipal water systems.

Tier-three is a mix of areas that allow septic use and also prohibit major subdivisions on septic in designated areas. These areas are not planned for sewer and are a mix of agricultural and forest lands.

Tier-four is designated as protected forest lands under the bill."

The Senate had already passed the bill and the House committee amended the bill to create reporting requirements and mandate that counties that do not adopt one of the tiers to document why, according to The Associated Press.

* Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch said he is optimistic that the House and Senate will be able reconcile their versions of the budget before the session adjourns on Monday.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, the speaker said the House and Senate are near an agreement on how to reconcile the chambers’ two versions of the budget which largely differed on how to raise taxes.

* Mark L. Keam—a Virginia state delegate who represents parts of Fairfax County and is the first Asian-born immigrant to serve in the Virignia House—responded to D.C. Councilman Marion Barry’s comment that Asian business owners in Ward 8 should be replaced by African-Americans.

Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post had Keam’s piece, which offers some historical perspectives and suggestions “to help our community move forward in a productive and positive way.”

Based on my personal experiences of living through the hell of Los Angeles in 1992 and trying to be proactive in D.C. in 1998, I have learned one lesson above all else: You never know when, where or how any one small mistake or incident can spark the flames of prejudice.

That is why it is so critical that everyone who works with other races need to be mindful of their every word and conduct aimed at the other group.

Read Keam’s thoughtful essay here.

* Gov. McDonnell signed legislation this week to trigger a referendum and allow voters to decide at the polls this fall if the state Constitution should be amended to make it harder for the government to seize property by eminent domain.

According to The Post, the legislation was inspired by a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the government’s right to seize private property for economic development projects.

The legislation passed the House and Senate last year and again this year. In order to change Virginia’s constitution, the amendment must pass through the General Assembly twice, with an election in between each vote. Voters must then approve the amendment at the polls through a referendum.

* Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill to make right on a state’s past wrong by awarding $1 million to Thomas Haynesworth—a Virginia man who spent 27 years behind bars for rapes he did not commit.

In December, a Virginia’s Court of Appeals declared Haynesworth an innocent man.

Backed by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and a pair of state prosecutors, it was determined that Haynesworth was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for groceries one afternoon in 1984.

In a statement Thursday, McDonnell said: (Via Wash Post)

Thomas Haynesworth’s wrongful convictions and imprisonment were a tragedy and although the commonwealth cannot return to him the years lost while serving time in prison, we can assist him as he rebuilds his life,’’ McDonnell said in a statement Thursday. “Now, as Mr. Haynesworth begins the next chapter in his life, it is morally right for Virginia to provide him with a means to financial security and the ability to move on with his future. This restitution will help ensure that Mr. Haynesworth is able to build upon his freedom and return to society in a successful way.

* D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton released her income tax returns Friday. The delegate earned $236,846 in 2011, including $83,775 in addition to her congressional salary. The additional money came from interest, divdends, earnings from teaching a course at Georgetown Law School and social security benefits among other things.

Her federal tax liability was $52,199 and her D.C. tax liability was $14,377.

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