October 19, 2009

State Roundup, October 19, 2009

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There’s a battle brewing over slots on the Anne Arundel County Council, The Sun reports Monday with a follow on a weekend report in the Maryland Gazette.  The council could revive a bill that would allow slots at Arundel Mills mall as early as tonight, as the state panel reviewing a proposal there grows increasingly impatient. However, County Council Chairwoman Cathy Vitale says another bill is likely to be introduced as well. That legislation would allow slots south of Route 32 in the county, a designation that wouldn’t include Arundel Mills, but would include Laurel Park. Vitale said she doubts there’s a consensus yet.

Post Columnist Robert McCartney wrote Sunday that the continuing uncertainty over whether Anne Arundel County will change its zoning to allow slots at Arundel Mills mark is a black mark for Gov. Martin O’Malley. He calls O’Malley’s initiative to legalize slots one of the governor’s few high-profile accomplishments.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky and Del. Anne Healey, who both oppose the state’s death penalty, outlined further concerns about the process in a letter the state. Their positions are crucial because they head the state committee that will review new death penalty regulations when they are put in place.

In addition, the separate new restrictions on when to use the death penalty, passed this year by the General Assembly, are getting a court challenge starting today. The Sun follows a Daily Record story from a week ago.

The Sun looked on Sunday at where the federal stimulus money is going in the state. Baltimore City is tops overall, though high-unemployment counties such as Somerset and Allegany are doing well on a proportional level. Other economically distressed counties, including Cecil, are lagging. The article points out that the numbers should be taken with a “grain of salt.”

The state’s teachers lobby has already gotten behind O’Malley in advance of his re-election bid next year, according to the AP.

Members of the public have a chance to weigh in this week on proposed tolls on the Intercounty Connector, which the Post reports will be among the highest in the country.

Liam Farrell at The Capital has an interview with House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who wants to push anti-gang legislation next year in the General Assembly.

Steve Lash at The Daily Record talks to professors at state universities about the challenges of putting together a policy on pornography on campus without violating the First Amendment.

The Westminster Eagle reports that Carroll County’s not likely to get any big road projects approved soon, given state transportation funding challenges. This probably means no widening of Route 32 for now.

The Daily Times has a piece on the state of chicken farming on the Shore. New federal regulations and the slow issuance of state permits are putting a damper on new chickenhouse development.

The Sun’s editorial board says the state should tap into its “rainy day” reserve fund to get through the budget deficit. It also calls for the state to revisit and clarify its medical malpractice liability laws to head of confusion brought by a pair of court challenges.

And on the Sun’s op-ed page, an advocate for group homes questions the state’s emphasis on foster care.