Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 9, 2016

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 9, 2016

Taking the regulatory approach to address boat bow-riding over the legislative route means the law can be changed in time for next summer. That’s a big deal.
If officials had gone through the Maryland General Assembly, the measure to prohibit bow-riding would probably pass easily because it’s a public safety matter. The unknown would have been whether special interests would have fouled the process. Even if the bill received the nod in the legislature, the earliest it could take effect would be July 1. By going through the regulation route and adding the prohibition to the Maryland Registry next month for public consumption, this change can go into effect as early as April.
According to State Senator Jim Mathias, the plan was to go through the legislature until a meeting last week with the state’s Boat Act Advisory Committee when it was decided the delay would not address it in time for warm weather boating season.
“The thought at first was to try to do this by legislation, but after all of the discussion, it was decided to do it by regulation,” Mathias said. “That will expedite it and get it on the books faster so when recreational boating season rolls around again next spring, this should be in place. It’s practical. It’s going to save lives and prevent injuries and it’s going to be clearly expressed in the law.”

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan surprised many this week when he announced his intentions to require businesses with 50 or more employees to offer more paid sick leave. He intends to push legislation in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session to require businesses with at least 50 employees to allow five days, or 40 hours, a year of paid sick leave.
This is not the first time this sort of legislation has been put forward in Maryland. Montgomery County has its own version on the books. The state legislature nearly voted a similar bill through in this year’s session, as the House passed a more encompassing measure but it failed in a Senate committee. Hogan’s bill would impact about 473,000 employees while the bill passed in the House would have affected about 595,000 across the state.
This is a move that is out of the ordinary for the Republican governor because it will have a major impact on small- to medium-sized business, but it appears to be a compromise measure of sorts aimed at appealing to those across the aisle.
On the surface, it seems contradictory to Hogan’s pro-business measures of the past, but scrutiny reveals this could be politics and timed well before the start of January’s legislative session. The governor may be forecasting that the bill under consideration in the last session was likely to pass this year and this could be his way of minimizing the impact across the state by about 100,000 employees.
Hogan needs to be able to work with Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly to get legislation through and this appears to me to be an olive branch of sorts. It will be interesting to see if the bill that almost passed last year gets more traction this year or if Hogan’s bill takes its place. My guess is both will be introduced and at some point the leaders of the House and Senate will have to determine which to advance.
There was interesting timing behind Hogan’s announcement this week as his presumptive opponent in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentz, was elected president of the Maryland Association of Counties. That’s a leadership position that will boost the Democrat’s profile in advance of what is expected to be a run for governor in two years. The timing might just be coincidental, however.

There is something incredibly special about a night Christmas parade and I’m partial to Berlin’s. Parade night in Berlin is an incredible affair. Along with New Year’s Eve and Fiddlers weekend, it’s the largest drawing special event of the year for the town. What’s different about parade night is the diversity of attendees. There are people of all ages on hand to take in the spectacle of it all.
One concern I have been hearing for years involves the start time of the Berlin parade. For years, it has started at 7 p.m. I would personally like to see it bumped up to 6 or 6:30 p.m. to shorten the night for the children, volunteers and attendees. I have floated the idea privately over the last week and everyone I spoke with agrees it would be nice it was pushed to earlier in the evening.
I recall having a conversation with a member of the Berlin Lions Club, which for 30 years ran the parade, about the start time and the reason stated was it allowed working people enough time to get off work and have dinner before the parade. Additionally, it was said it allowed for sports games to conclude for high school teams. I understand that, but still believe a change will benefit the majority of people.
The good news is the town’s chief parade organizer, Sharon Timmons, acknowledged the start time has been brought up in the past and will be discussed again by the town in advance of next year’s parade planning. That doesn’t mean a change is imminent but it’s good to see it will be evaluated.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.