Stories about Maryland

Gov. Hogan appoints Marlon Amprey to Maryland House of Delegates

On Dec. 29, 2020, the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee nominated Marlon Amprey (D) to the Maryland House of Delegates to represent District 40. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) approved the nomination and formally appointed Amprey to the seat on Jan. 6, effective Jan. 13.  

Amprey will succeed Nick Mosby (D), who resigned in December 2020 when he was sworn in as Baltimore City Council president.

The Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee nominated Amprey on Dec. 29 by a 4-3 vote. Amprey was one of 15 to apply for the position. Prior to his appointment, Amprey worked as an associate with the law firm Cole Schotz P.C. He has also worked as a teacher.

According to Maryland law, the governor has 30 days after a vacancy to make an appointment based on the recommendations of the political party committee that holds the vacant seat. The political party committee has up to 30 days after the vacancy to submit a list of recommended candidates to the governor. If the party committee fails to act within the 30 day deadline, the governor has 15 days to appoint a person from the political party that last held the seat.

In 2020, there were 142 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. As of Jan. 13, 121 of those vacancies have been filled. Amprey is one of 59 Democrats to fill state legislative vacancies from 2020. 

Additional reading:

Longtime Maryland state Senator Miller resigns

Maryland State Senator Thomas Miller Jr. (D) resigned on Dec. 23 due to health reasons. He had announced in Jan. 2019 that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Miller had represented District 27 since 1975. He served as Senate president for 33 years—from 1987 to 2020—the longest anyone has served as Maryland Senate president, according to The Washington Post. Prior to joining the state Senate, Miller served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1971 to 1975.  

According to Maryland law, the governor has 30 days after the vacancy to make an appointment based on the recommendations of the political party committee that holds the vacant seat. The political party committee has up to 30 days after the vacancy to submit a list of recommended candidates to the governor. If the party committee fails to act within the 30-day deadline, the governor has 15 days to appoint a person from the political party that last held the seat.   

Additional reading: 

Three Maryland Court of Appeals justices seek retention in November

Maryland Court of Appeals Justices Brynja McDivitt Booth, Jonathan Biran, and Mary Ellen Barbera are all seeking retention on November 3, 2020. Booth and Biran were appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) while Barbera was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Currently, three of the seven justices on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor while four were appointed by a Republican governor.

The governor appoints the seven justices of the appellate court with the assistance of a judicial nominating commission. The Maryland Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission is made up of 17 members, all appointed by the governor. Five of these members are first nominated by the Maryland State Bar Association. After the governor appoints a justice, the Maryland Senate must then confirm the appointment.

New justices must face a retention election during the next general election after they serve at least one year on the bench. Justices then stand for retention every ten years with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Since 2008, justices facing retention elections have won 98% of the time. In Maryland, there has not been a single justice that lost retention during this same time frame.

Additional reading:

Serafini resigns from Maryland State Senate

Maryland Sen. Andrew Serafini (R) resigned from the state legislature on August 1, citing the demands of his more than decade-long tenure in state government as a motivating factor. Serafini represented District 2A in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2009 to 2015, assuming office in the Maryland State Senate in February 2015.

Serafini wrote in a letter to his senate colleagues that “leaving my family on a Monday and not returning home until Friday late afternoon” took a toll on him. He also wrote, “Frankly, being a Republican from a rural area has also worn on me.” Before he resigned, Serafini was one of 15 Republican senators in the 47-seat chamber. Democrats have held a majority in the chamber since at least 1990.

Governor Larry Hogan (R) will appoint Serafini’s replacement from a list of candidates recommended by Republican committee officials in the district. The appointee will serve the remainder of Serafini’s unexpired term, which is set to end on January 10, 2023.

Additional reading:

Maryland and Florida see leadership changes in ALJ corps

Leadership changes occurred this week in Maryland and Florida’s administrative law judge (ALJ) corps. The governor’s power to appoint head ALJs in these and similar states helps the executive direct and oversee state administrative activity.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on June 9 appointed Chung Ki Pak to serve as the state’s new chief ALJ. Pak will manage the roughly 60 ALJs employed by the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, which provides Maryland state agencies with ALJs to hold hearings and adjudicate disputes.

In Florida, Chief ALJ John MacIver, an appointee of Governor Ron DeSantis (R), resigned on June 9 to transition to a new role as counsel for the state’s chief financial officer. DeSantis must gain approval from his cabinet to appoint MacIver’s replacement. Florida’s chief ALJ also serves as the director of the state Division of Administrative Hearings, which provides ALJs to state agencies, cities, counties, and independent government entities to adjudicate disputes.

Maryland and Florida are examples of states with centralized ALJ panels. Unlike federal ALJs, who are appointed by agency heads to hold administrative hearings at specific agencies, 27 states centralize their ALJ corps and provide ALJs to state agencies on request. The goal of the centralized ALJ structure is to protect procedural rights for citizens in administrative adjudication by ensuring that the presiding judge is independent of the agency that is a party to the case.

Additional reading:

New Maryland Commissioner of Insurance takes office

Newest Maryland Commissioner of Insurance Kathleen Birrane assumed office May 18. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appointed Birrane May 1 to replace former commissioner Alfred Redmer Jr. Redmer left the Maryland Insurance Administration to become executive director of the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund starting May 18. He had served as commissioner since 2015 after previously holding the position from 2003 to 2005.

The Maryland Commissioner of Insurance serves as head of the Maryland Insurance Administration, an independent agency within the state executive branch created in 1993. The commissioner oversees the department’s efforts to regulate the state’s insurance companies and producers and investigate complaints consumers have about their insurance coverage. Commissioners are appointed by the governor with advice and consent from the Maryland State Senate and serve four-year terms.

Ballotpedia covers 12 state executive offices in Maryland. Seven of those offices are nonpartisan, including the Commissioner of Insurance. Three offices–Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State–are held by Republican officials. Democratic officials hold the offices of Attorney General and Comptroller.

Additional reading:

Maryland Sports Betting Expansion Measure will appear on November ballots

The Maryland Sports Betting Expansion Measure, a legislatively referred state statute, was certified for the ballot on May 7. The ballot measure would authorize sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities. The state revenue generated by such activities would be primarily dedicated to funding public education.

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Murphy v. NCAA that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, thereby overturning the federal ban and allowing states to legalize sports betting. As of March 2020, 16 states had active sports betting industries, three of which legalized sports betting by approving a statewide ballot measure. South Dakota voters will vote on a legislatively referred constitutional amendment in November that would legalize sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota.

The Maryland Constitution requires that the Maryland General Assembly refer laws expanding commercial wagering to voters at a general election. In Maryland, a simple majority vote is needed in each chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to refer a state statute to the ballot. The governor is able to veto bills proposing legislatively referred state statutes. The governor has 30 days to sign or veto the bills after they are presented to him. If the governor does not sign a bill by the deadline, the bill is enacted without his signature.

On March 14, 2020, the Maryland House of Representatives voted 129-3 in favor of the measure. On March 18, the Maryland State Senate voted 45-0. Governor Larry Hogan (R) did not sign or veto the bill by the May 7 deadline. Therefore, the sports betting measure was certified for the ballot on May 7 without his signature.

During the 2020 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly also referred to the 2020 ballot the Legislative Authority over State Budget Amendment, which would authorize the Maryland General Assembly to increase, decrease, or add items to the state budget as long as such measures do not exceed the total proposed budget submitted by the governor.

Since 1996, 34 measures appeared on Maryland ballots. Of that total, 31 were approved, and three were defeated. One legislatively referred state statute appeared on Maryland ballots between 1996 and 2019, and it was approved.

Additional reading:

Maryland courts set tentative reopen date

On May 7, Chief Justice for the Maryland Court of Appeals Ellen Barbera announced that courts in the state could begin to reopen on June 8. Barbera told lawmakers during a Maryland State Senate hearing, per an article from, “Even if that day holds, I can assure you, this does not mean that Monday, June 8, will be business as usual for the Maryland judiciary.”

The Chief Justice said that reopening would come in phases and courthouses would require restructuring to incorporate social distancing measures. Since mid-March, when courts were first ordered closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland courts have moved using remote technology, such as video or phone conferences, for some hearings.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state courts are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, 34 states suspended in-person proceedings statewide, and 16 states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.

Maryland closes schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the year

On Wednesday, Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that schools in Maryland would be closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Online and distance learning will continue for students, however. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) first ordered schools closed on March 12.

Maryland has a divided government. The Republican Party holds the governorship. The Democratic Party holds a majority of the state senate and a majority of the state house.

Forty-eight states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states that have not are Montana and Wyoming. Montana has a divided government, and Wyoming has a Republican trifecta.

Mfume (D) defeats Klacik (R) in special general election for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District

Kweisi Mfume (D) defeated Kimberly Klacik (R) in the special general election for Mayland’s 7th Congressional District. He will fill the vacancy left by Elijah Cummings (D), who died in October 2019. As of Wednesday morning, Mfume led with 72.5% of the vote to Klacik’s 26.5%. Mfume cannot be sworn into office until after results are certified by the Maryland Board of Elections, which could happen as early as May 8.

Four special elections have been held during the 116th U.S. Congress—the current meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. Three such elections were held in 2019, and five more are scheduled during the rest of this year.

Voters decided 136 congressional special elections between 1985 and 2012—19 in the Senate and 117 in the House of Representatives. In those elections, nine seats changed partisan hands, with Republicans gaining six seats and Democrats gaining three.