February 8, 2011

State Roundup, February 8, 2011

Print More

GAY MARRIAGE: While it still is unclear whether same-sex marriage will pass the General Assembly this year, this much is clear: There isn’t much interest among lawmakers in compromising by allowing civil unions, reports John Wagner for the Post.

EARMARK HYPOCRISY? While it seemed like hypocrisy for Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio to talk of banning local bond bills in her GOP response to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s State of the State address since she had two such proposals in the hopper, writes the Sun editorial board, it would be foolish for her not to take advantage of the practice for her constituents’ sake.

BAN GIFTS TO MDs: Sun editorialists write that Maryland lawmakers would be wise to follow Vermont, which in 2009 passed legislation requiring drug and medical-device makers to publicly disclose all financial relationships with physicians and other health care providers in the state.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: A bill to incrementally increase minimum wage from its current $7.25 up to close to $10 by 2013, a 35% increase over three years, was introduced in the state Senate yesterday, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com. It also would boost pay for employees who earn tips from half to 70% of minimum wage.

DIME A DRINK: Advocates for increasing the state’s alcohol tax are turning up the pressure on lawmakers: Yesterday, the coalition behind the “dime a drink” proposal got the backing of the owner of a popular Baltimore wine store. And today, hundreds of mental health advocates from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will descend on the capital to rally for the increase, blogs Ann Marimow of the Post.

TRANSPORT FUND: Sen. Rob Garagiola is proposing increasing the state’s gas tax by 10 cents and hiking vehicle registration fees by 50%, writes Scott Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal. The bills would protect the Transportation Trust Fund and provide new revenue for road and transit needs.

SLOTS REVENUE: The state’s two slot machine parlors generated $10.7 million in revenue in January. Proceeds bounced back from declines at Hollywood Casino Perryville, where it raked in $7.7 million, or $166 per machine, per day. That was an average $140 per machine in December, writes the BBJ’s Scott Dance.

The Casino at Ocean Downs took in more than $3 million in revenue in its first month of operation, with each one of its slot machines generating $144 per day, reports Jennifer Schutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

YOUTH DETENTION: Maryland youth advocates hope that O’Malley’s decision not to fund a new youth jail proposed to be built in Baltimore signals a commitment to focusing on alternatives to incarceration for at-risk youth. Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM discussed creative solutions with several guests.

UNINSURED: Barbara Pash of MarylandReporter.com writes that despite the deep recession and high unemployment, the number of Marylanders without health insurance under the age of 65 remained relatively stable from 2004 to 2009, hovering around the 720,000 range.

OYSTER HEALTH: The Chesapeake Bay’s beleaguered oyster population spawned a bumper crop of babies last year, and there are signs that the diseases that have ravaged the bay’s bivalves for more than two decades might have loosened their stranglehold, reports the Sun’s Timothy Wheeler.

PEPCO GETS HEAT: Pepco executives were sharply criticized by the Montgomery County Council yesterday during a far-reaching post-thundersnow scolding that at times took on the demeanor of a prosecution, blogs Michael Laris for the Post. And they can expect more today from the Prince George’s County Council. Here’s his full story.

Montgomery council members discussed replacing Pepco with a government-owned utility to distribute electric service to residents more reliably than the company, which also has to satisfy shareholders, reports Margie Hyslop of the Gazette.

CITY ADDRESS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM discussed Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s 2011 State of the City address and her vision for the city with co-host Anthony McCarthy, Baltimore Brew editor Fern Shen and Matthew Crenson, professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.

Despite an $81 million budget shortfall, reports the Sun’s Julie Scharper, the mayor trumpeted plans to start new projects, including efforts to boost jobs in new technology, crack down on perpetrators of domestic violence and reorganize the city’s economic development arm.

Rawlings-Blake is planning to unveil major changes to the city’s economic development agency, including staff cuts and organizational changes, to help put greater emphasis on creating jobs, writes Daniel Sernovitz for the BBJ. Focusing the agency was a part of her State of the City address.

In his Second Opinion column for the Sun, Andy Green says that Rawlings-Blake showed some fight during her address, but still needs to work on her “vision thing.”

Here’s the full text of her speech.