State Digest


May 17, 2007

O'Malley to fill in for Sen. Clinton in N.H.

Gov. Martin O'Malley will fill in for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton next month at a key New Hampshire Democratic Party event, an early sign that the governor's role in Clinton's presidential campaign could extend beyond Maryland.

O'Malley, who endorsed Clinton last week in Annapolis and is her Maryland chairman, will speak June 2 at the party's state convention in Concord, N.H.

"Senator Clinton requested that Governor O'Malley represent her in New Hampshire, and he's happy to do so," said O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese. "It's not the first time he has gone to New Hampshire for a presidential candidate, and it probably won't be the last."

It is early for surrogates who are not family members of the candidates to make appearances in key primary states. Seven months before the first contests, the candidates are still working to introduce themselves to voters. But O'Malley is no stranger to New Hampshire, having been an organizer there for Gary Hart, then a Colorado senator, during the 1984 presidential campaign. Hart, who visited O'Malley in Annapolis two weekends ago, remains a mentor to the governor.

Clinton and O'Malley exchanged flattery last week during an endorsement event at City Dock in Annapolis. Clinton lauded O'Malley for his "Believe" campaign in Baltimore and his work on homeland security issues when he was mayor of Baltimore. A grinning O'Malley passed on a question about a potential role for him in a Clinton administration.

Abbruzzese said O'Malley will travel to New Hampshire and back on the same day and that his campaign committee will foot the bill. Clinton, he said, will be in Iowa that day.

A spokesman for Clinton did not return a call seeking comment. The Democratic candidates are expected in New Hampshire June 3 for a debate at Saint Anselm College.

Jennifer Skalka


: Vetoes

O'Malley rejects parole, gun bills

Gov. Martin O'Malley vetoed yesterday bills that would have allowed early parole for second-time drug offenders and permitted law enforcement officers to resell their firearms to the manufacturers.

O'Malley said the parole bill, which had the support of the Legislative Black Caucus, was "unnecessary and contrary to the interests of public safety." Supporters say it would have provided nonviolent offenders with an opportunity for treatment and rehabilitation.

Maryland law requires a minimum 10-year sentence for offenders convicted of distributing, manufacturing or dispensing drugs. The proposal would have allowed some offenders to apply earlier for parole.

"The drug trade is an inherently violent business," O'Malley wrote in his veto message. "While an individual drug-dealing transaction or an individual drug production operation may not experience an incident of violence, the illegal drug market as a whole is shaped and protected through a culture of violence. We know all too well that somewhere along the chain of drug production and distribution lives are lost, families are devastated and communities are destroyed."

O'Malley noted that he provided additional state money for drug treatment this year, noting an increase of $5 million in funding in the fiscal 2008 budget. The bill, he wrote, "does nothing to advance the amount of drug treatment services available to addicted individuals."

In vetoing the handgun proposal, the governor said that the "current law provides sufficient options for the disposal of law enforcement weapons."

"Police weapons should not be made potentially available outside of the law enforcement community," he wrote. "Citizens who seek to own a handgun have many options for purchasing those weapons; unneeded police handguns do not have to be added to existing inventories."

Jennifer Skalka


: Senate

Bay island expansion funds OK'd

WASHINGTON --The Senate approved yesterday $192 million for the expansion of Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay, which is being rebuilt with material dredged from the approach channels to the port of Baltimore.

The Water Resources Development Act includes about $300 million for Maryland projects, the state's senators announced yesterday. The House has passed a version of the bill that would fund most of the Army Corps of Engineers' water projects nationwide.

The Senate also approved $30 million to reduce the flow of nitrogen from the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant into the Potomac River and a $30 million increase in the corps' oyster restoration program. The bill also includes $9.4 million for restoration of Smith Island and $40 million for projects elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"This bill is a federal investment in the lives and livelihoods that depend on the waterways of Maryland," Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said in a statement.

Mikulski and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, both Democrats, voted for the $14 billion bill, which passed 91-4. The House and Senate will negotiate a final version to send to President Bush.

Matthew Hay Brown

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.