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The Russians aren't coming

Republicans in the Maryland Senate who, a week earlier, passionately opposed a bill that would have made it easier for international observers to visit Maryland polling places, got an unlikely ally in their quest to quash the bill last week.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert/Charles/Prince George's, left the rostrum Wednesday to participate in the floor debate when the measure came up, announcing his opposition to the bill in light of indictments of 13 Russian nationals accused of interfering in the 2016 elections.

"Times have changed since this bill was introduced," Miller said. "Since last week, something unique happened.

"This bill might have been ready for prime time four weeks ago, or six years ago, or four years ago or even two weeks ago," Miller said. "But what has happened now with the indictment of these 13 men showing how vulnerable our elections are, not just to the Russians, but to people all over the world. … Our elections are very easy to manipulate. So I don't want these people in the room; I don't want anybody in the room except bonafide Americans with bonafide identity cards."

The bill was sent back to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, effectively killing it — at least for this year.

Flash those pearlies

Standing to oppose a bill that would raise fines for drivers caught on camera more than once speeding through work zones, Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll, declared Thursday to the House of Delegates, "in the interest of full disclosure, I hate cameras. I'm just gonna get that out of the way right now. Whether they be speed cameras, or red-light cameras or any of those darn cameras. I don't like 'em."

Whereupon many of the other delegates whipped out their phones and aimed at him with their — cameras.

"I like those cameras," he chuckled, then continued his speech, describing traffic cameras as "the biggest ripoff ever foisted on the Maryland motorist."

Hartings wins Senate approval

The Maryland Senate has confirmed the appointment of former Washington County Board of Education President Justin Hartings to the state board of education. Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Hartings to the state board last May. The appointment was unanimously confirmed Feb. 16.

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