Cardin Proposes Criminalization of Revenge Porn

Cardin-Jon_webSpurned lovers in Maryland beware: Posting sexually explicit photos and videos of your ex – so-called revenge porn – could land you in jail if one state lawmaker has his way.

Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, is expected to announce on Wednesday that he is sponsoring a bill to make the nonconsensual release of sexually explicit photographs and videos a felony in Maryland. Cardin, running for Maryland attorney general, said the proposed law would be the first of its kind in the state.

Laws regarding revenge porn are not new, but are gaining wide attention.

Similar legislation was proposed this month in New York by a state senator and state assemblyman, according to the Madison County Courier.

New Jersey passed a law in 2004 that prohibits the dissemination of sexually explicit photos and video without the consent of both partners, according to the New York Times.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, this month signed a law that makes the practice of distributing sexually explicit images of ex-significant-others punishable by six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine, according to CNN.

Critics say California’s law doesn’t go far enough because it exempts self-portraits, also called “selfies,” and prosecutors must prove an intent to cause “serious emotional distress” by the person who distributed the material, according to Forbes.



Inside Maryland Politics: The Unemployment Insurance Tax Drop

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

In case you missed it this morning, I joined Fraser Smith, senior news analyst for WYPR, on Inside Maryland Politics to discuss the expected decrease in the state’s unemployment insurance tax. Continue reading

Poll: Make Redistricting Independent of Elected Officials

A majority of Marylanders say they want a more independent process when it comes to the decennial redrawing of state legislative and congressional districts, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Statewide, 73 percent of those surveyed earlier this month said they prefer redistricting to be done by an independent commission, according to the poll.

The poll question on redistricting was paid for by the Greater Baltimore Committee and part of a larger survey conducted Oct. 1-9 by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. The Annapolis-based polling firm surveyed 819 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in 2014.

Gene Bracken, a spokesman for the committee, said the lopsided poll numbers were surprising and was not able to immediately explain the public response.

“The why could be a lot of things,” Bracken said. “I don’t know the answer to the why it was so overwhelming. We only asked the one question.”

Bracken said that despite the organization’s support for a change in how districts are drawn they put a lot of care in drafting what he called “a decidedly simple question.”

Poll Question: The U.S. Constitution requires states to create legislative voting districts and to adjust these districts every 10 years to reflect census results. In Maryland, voting districts are drawn up by the state’s elected officials. In some other states, voting districts are drawn up by independent commissions.

In your opinion, which is the better approach? Have voting districts drawn up by:

  • Elected officials
  • Independent commissions 

“We knew how a lot of business leaders felt and we knew how we felt but we really didn’t know how this was going to come back,” Bracken said. “We really wanted to know the answer.”

Currently, Maryland’s governor is responsible for the appointment of a redistricting committee that holds public hearings on potential state legislative redistricting plans. The governor is required by law to introduce a plan on the first day of the legislative session in the second year following each census. That plan becomes law in 45 days unless the General Assembly enacts its own plan.

In the most recent round of redistricting, three of the five members of the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee were current or former state legislators including: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and former Del. James King.

Both Miller and Busch are Democrats. King is a Republican.

The governor is not legally required to redraw the congressional districts every 10 years but traditionally submits a plan.

Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they wanted elected officials to continue redraw the districts.

The idea of using an independent commission to draw Maryland’s legislative and congressional redistricting is not new. Previous efforts have gone nowhere.

“You have to get the people who are drawing the districts to give that up and go to another form,” Bracken said.

“If this effort is ever going to gain any traction in Annapolis it’s going to have to come from leadership,” Bracken said. “It’s an election year so maybe someone will think this is a good idea.”

Gansler names Ivey as running mate

ganslerMaryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has officially named Del. Jolene Ivey, D-Prince George’s, as his running mate in his bid for governor.

Ivey, 52, is a two-term member of the House and chairs the Prince George’s County delegation. She sponsored a constitutional amendment, approved by voters last year, requiring politicians found guilty of certain crimes to be removed from office at conviction rather than sentencing.

A graduate of High Point High School in Beltsville, where the announcement was made Monday, Ivey is also the wife of former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.

Some political observers thought Gansler, a Montgomery County resident, would pick a running mate from the Baltimore area in order to “balance” the ticket between two voter-rich jurisdictions, as many previous gubernatorial candidates have done.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George’s County resident and one of Gansler’s rival in the primary election, selected Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate earlier this year.

Del. Heather L. Mizeur, D-Montgomery, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, has not yet announced a running mate.

Gansler’s announcement came a day after The Washington Post reported the attorney general “regularly ordered state troopers assigned to drive him to turn on the lights and sirens on the way to routine appointments, directing them to speed, run red lights and bypass traffic jams by using the shoulder.”

Top court explains why 17-year-olds can vote in primaries

Voters cast ballots in Baltimore during the 2012 general election. (File photo)

Voters cast ballots in Baltimore during the 2012 general election. (File photo)

On Feb. 8, 2008, the Court of Appeals issued an order that 17-year-olds who would be 18 before November’s general election could vote in the primary election four days away. It promised an opinion at a later date.

Now, more than five-and-half years later, we get the whole megilah.

The case stemmed from the court’s 2006 decision finding early voting unconstitutional, which led to a series of inquiries and advisory opinions culminating with the attorney general recommending that 17-year-olds can vote in primary elections only if they are affiliated with a political party and do not vote in nonpartisan elections, such as for a county board of education.

(The Maryland State Board of Elections has a handy and comprehensive timeline of all the events.)

The case before the Court of Appeals was filed Feb. 1, 2008 on behalf of a pair of 17-year-olds in Frederick and Montgomery counties who were denied voter registration. The Court of Appeals heard the case one week later and issued its order the same day.

Retired Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, writing Friday for the unanimous court, said when the state constitution refers to “the next election” to establish voting age, it is referring to a general election, not a primary one. The constitution, Bell continued, “is not in conflict with” the election law allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections.

And, since election law requires school board members to be nominated in the primary election, 17-year-olds can vote in nonpartisan elections, Bell added.

“It would be inconsistent with with the purposes of Maryland law regarding the individual elective franchise were we to hold that an individual must be 18 years-old at the time of the primary election in order to vote in that election,” Bell concluded. “Such a result would deny 17 year-old persons, who would otherwise be eligible to vote in the subsequent general election, the opportunity to participate fully in the elective process.”