Legal Insurrection gave a lot of coverage to the Dan Bongino Maryland Senate race, but has not delved much into Maryland state politics.

As your resident Maryland blogger, it is my distinct duty and dubious honor to tell you about our current Governor and wannabe presidential candidate.

Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley is busy positioning himself to the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 and using the state as his launching pad.

Currently, the governor’s major issue is repealing Maryland’s death penalty. Since the death penalty was reinstated, five men have been executed by the state, none since 2005. This is hardly a major issue for the state. But if someone needs to burnish his liberal credentials this is essential.

Not to be outdone by other liberal politicians wishing to make their name since the horrendous Connecticut massacre, O’Malley is pushing for stricter gun control laws in the state. (Baltimore has one of the highest murder rates in the country, despite some of the strictest gun laws in the country.) There is a possible consequence to this effort though.

General counsel for Beretta USA, Jeffrey Reh, said:

“A person bent on destruction will find a way to do so and the absence of a folding stock on a rifle or the need to carry an additional magazine will not stop such a person,” Reh said.

Reh also warned the bill could prompt Beretta USA, which employs between 300 and 400 people in the state, to leave for friendlier climes.

“[W]e are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment,” Reh said. “It is worth noting that these other states also do not try to blame a product for human misconduct.”

So the push to ban guns may cost Maryland jobs. Again O’Malley is putting his electoral ambitions over that of his state.

Last year in addition to raising taxes (always a vote getter for Democrats) O’Malley’s big push was for expanded gambling in Maryland. Maryland Democrats have done their best to dictate the terms of gaming Maryland, allowing government to determine the sites of casinos and taking huge cuts of the profits. It’s all done in the name of education of course.

In November, Maryland voters approved seven referendum initiatives supported by Governor O’Malley, included an expansion of gaming. The problem is that the battle was fought by two big corporations: one wishing to preserve its market share, the other wanting to increase its market share.

After the referendum won, the news reported:

Maryland Live casino in Anne Arundel County alone generated over $30 million of that figure.

Leaving out that big casino which opened in June, state casino revenues were down by more than 30 percent in the past year.

Almost 40 percent for Hollywood Casino in Perryville.  Per machine revenue at Hollywood was $117.81, according to the state.   Ocean Downs took in a bit more per machine, at $141.54.

A lot of new revenue came at the expense of business at the older casino. That will likely happen when the new casinos are built too. This was one Governor O’Malley’s big wins.

Other referendum questions validated a ridiculous gerrymander (that enabled Maryland’s congressional delegation to increase to a sevent to one Democratic advantage), gay marriage and in state tuition for undocumented citizens. These questions were forced on the ballot by activists. In typical magnanimous fashion after his wins O’Malley then complained that it was too easy for citizens to add ballot initiatives and that Maryland citizens should be happy to have their betters make laws for them without dissent.

Aside from his undeniable charisma, a built in registration advantage of two to one, one of the factors that catapulted O’Malley to the State House was his promise to keep utility rates down. Red Maryland shows that he hasn’t even done that.

Seven years later and one reelection victory later, Maryland electric rates are 54 percent higher than when he first took office. Rates decreased over the last two years because of a drop in demand due to the recession, not O’Malley’s policies.
As noted, last O’Malley held a special session to raise taxes. This is the second time he’s used a special session to raise taxes. When he was first elected governor, in 2007, the state faced a “structural deficit.” In order to bring revenues and spending into line O’Malley with his accomplices in the legislature raised taxes, including the sales tax. Of course Maryland’s budget had grown 100% in the previous decade, well outpacing inflation and population growth, and the structural deficit amounted to about 6% of the total budget. The idea that cutting 6% couldn’t be done reflects O’Malley’s “tax first” approach to governing.
Last year’s tax rise was even less defensible. Even the editors of the Washington Post, usually cheerleaders for more taxes offered this advice:

MARYLAND LAWMAKERS have made such a mess of the people’s business that it now looks like it will take two special legislative sessions in Annapolis, not just one, to straighten things out. But really, there’s a simpler solution: Do nothing.

We’re being facetious, but only slightly. The truth is that if lawmakers in the General Assembly were to stay home and skip the special sessions, the effect would be to cancel plans for a tax increase; spare the state a senseless expansion of casino gambling; eliminate some dubious spending programs; and ensure that Maryland’s $35 billion budget still manages to grow by a respectable $700 million, about 2 percent.

Governor O’Malley and his rubber stamp legislature, though, always equate taxing (and spending) with governing. So once again Marylanders are facing higher taxes. Unsurprisingly a recent survey found that Maryland had one of the biggest tax burdens in the country. On top of that, O’Malley doesn’t feel that Maryland’s gas taxes are high enough, so he and the legislature are looking to increase those too. WTOP reports:

Senate President Mike Miller has suggested raising the gas tax to 3 percent. But Marylanders who earn between $20,000 to $50,000 spent the greatest portion of their income on gas and they would be hit hardest by that tax increase, according to a study released Tuesday by Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Sage Policy Group.

A gas tax increase would ripple throughout the state’s economy in part by limiting the buying power of Maryland consumers.

“We found that the state would lose, based on lost consumption power, about 959 jobs,” said Sage economist Anirban Basu.

Martin O’Malley is a talented politician to be sure. However he’s hardly a great leader. Last year he was unable to pass the tax hikes he wanted during the regular legislative session and had to call a special session to pass those rate hikes and apply them retroactively. (Imagine if a business decided to raise prices on a product after you bought it!) However, O’Malley has a veto proof majority in both houses of the legislature!
O’Malley is first and foremost a tax and spender.
He can claim to have supported and passed all the necessary progressive legislation to make the party faithful swoon. He’s extremely charismatic. He’s also a sore winner and a demagogue.
Most of all, Martin O’Malley is quite ambitious and Maryland has been the petri dish of that ambition. In 2016 he’ll be asking the Democrats (and if he’s successful, the whole country) if he can bring the tax hiking and social enginerring he brought to Maryland, to all 50 states.
[WAJ adds — I’m putting David on O’Malley’s case!]


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