March 3, 2010

State Roundup March 3, 2010

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In today’s roundup, we have coverage of lawmakers and law enforcement officials throwing their weight behind new anti-gang legislation, environmentalists want a new tax for property owners, and Gov. O’Malley met with Republican leaders about their proposed budget cuts.

GANGS: State prosecutors and police officers are pushing for a bill providing tougher anti-gang laws, arguing that the current anti-gang law doesn’t work because it fails to define “gang member,” Julie Bykowicz writes in The Baltimore Sun. But civil liberties groups and public defenders say prevention and intervention are more effective in fighting gang activity.

Supporters note that gangs are no longer strictly an urban phenomenon, but are becoming problems for the state’s rural jurisdictions, Hayley Peterson writes in the Washington Examiner. David Collins has a video report for WBAL-TV, and John Rydell reports for WBFF.

STORM-WATER FEE: Environmentalists and local officials asked lawmakers to require all jurisdictions to charge property owners a fee to fight polluted runoff from urban and suburban areas entering the Chesapeake Bay, Timothy Wheeler reports for The Sun. The Maryland Association of Realtors argues it is the wrong time for such a tax, given the condition of the real estate market.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: A Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve the compromise for the reform of the state’s unemployment insurance system, the Associated Press reports. Labor and business organizations now both support the legislation after weeks of negotiations.

BUDGET CUTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley met with state Republican leaders Tuesday to discuss some of the budget cuts presented last week, Erin Julius writes in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail. House Minority Whip Christopher Shank said O’Malley was particularly interested in their proposed Medicaid cost recovery provisions. Doug Tallman of the Gazette has his report on the meetings.

COMBINED REPORTING: A study by Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office on combined reporting suggests that it would have boosted tax revenue in the range of $92 million to $144 million in 2007, Scott Dance reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: A key House committee might finally vote on giving tax relief to businesses that donate to programs for private schools, its chairwoman says, after shelving the proposal for the past two years, Erich Wagner reports for MarylandReporter.com.

GAY MARRIAGE: Gay rights groups plan to lobby state lawmakers Wednesday to support same-sex marriage as well as protections against discrimination transgender people, the Associated Press reports. And WBAL-Radio has audio analysis of the attorney general’s opinion on out-of-state marriage licenses from Blair Lee.

STUDENT SHIELD LAW: The state’s shield law for professional journalists would be extended to unpaid student reporters, under a bill moving through the House of Delegates, Andy Rosen writes for MarylandReporter.com.

EXXON: Gov. O’Malley wants the Maryland Department of the Environment to review its decision to allow ExxonMobil to stop its remediation efforts stemming from the 2006 gasoline spill in Baltimore County, Nick Madigan reports in The Sun.

CHILD SUPPORT: An effort to raise child support payments for the first time in more than two decades met with intense debate in the Senate Tuesday, Nick DiMarco writes for MarylandReporter.com.

IMPEACHMENT?: State Attorney General Doug Gansler’s office concluded that the General Assembly does not have the power to remove Gansler from office, Annie Linskey reports on The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog. The statement stems from remarks by Del. Don Dwyer, who has vowed to begin impeachment proceedings after the release of Gansler’s opinion on out-of-state same-sex marriages.

INCINERATOR: Opponents of a Frederick County trash incinerator are lobbying state lawmakers to stop its construction across the river from Monocacy National Battlefield, Meg Tully reports in The Frederick News Post.

DRUNK DRIVING: Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy is in support of legislation making an ignition interlock device mandatory for people convicted of drunk driving, even as a first offense, Michael Dresser writes on his Getting There blog for The Sun.

EARMARKS: Washington County lawmakers are sponsoring local bond bills with a total price-tag of almost half a million dollars, Erin Julius writes in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

CHILD NEGLECT: Del. Galen Clagett has introduced a bill making child neglect a felony, Meg Tully reports for The Frederick News-Post. Frederick County prosecutors say they see cases of neglect regularly, but are unable to criminally prosecute the parents.

UNION: Marta Mossburg has a column on a “union power grab” on family day care operators in the Frederick News-Post.