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Published on March 1st, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, March 1, 2011

GAY MARRIAGE: Three top leaders of the Catholic Church in Maryland urged their followers to “act at once” to prevent the House of Delegates from passing the bill legalizing gay nuptials that passed the Senate last week, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee is on the verge of approving same-sex marriage, putting the bill one step closer to law, according to an AP story in the Carroll County Times.

LEGAL POT: The chief of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene testified against a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, potentially dooming a plan that had been on track to pass the General Assembly this year, the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz blogs.

The Post’s Ann Marimow writes that DHMH Secretary Joshua Sharfstein opposes the bill because it “does not provide for meaningful limits.”

The legislation, Sharfstein says, does not outline which doctors can prescribe marijuana, the specific conditions for which the drug can be recommended, how many dispensaries would be allowed, the quantity of the prescription allowed and the duration of the treatment, Alan Brody reports for the Gazette.

His testimony caught several people by surprise, including Lutherville resident and cancer survivor Deborah Miran, who testified earlier that the drug helped her during treatment, Steve Schuster reports for the Towson Times.

Dave Collins of WBAL-TV reports on the situation.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV offers this report, including an interview with proponent and physician Del. Dan Morhaim.

SEPTIC BAN: Greg Latshaw of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Eastern Shore delegation is pushing back against legislation that would clamp down on subdivisions that use septic systems.

GOP CUTS PROPOSED: Republican delegates will be offering their annual dose of “tough medicine” today in the form of perhaps $1 billion in budget cuts, but it is unlikely that Democrats are any more willing to swallow the bitter pills than they were in past years, blogs Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

NO PAROLE: Ben Weathers of the Annapolis Capital writes of families on both sides of the parole issue, recently brought up again by former Gov. Parris Glendening who said he regretted his “life means life” pronouncement.

CORKAGE: Consumer advocates pleaded with lawmakers yesterday to let customers bring their own bottles of wine to restaurants in Baltimore city and three counties, saying the state’s high-end eateries want to extend the option to their clients, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

PENN PURCHASE: The Sun’s Andrea Walker writes that Penn National Gaming Inc. has completed its acquisition of Rosecroft Raceway, enabling the Prince George’s racetrack to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Landow Partners LLC has made attempts to block the settlement and still contests the auction results, the Daily Record’s Rachel Bernstein reports.

SLOTS REVENUE: Slots revenues are falling short of projections, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com. Those projections were made in 2007, long before the recession took its toll.

ROCKFISH SEASON: Thanks to poachers and bad weather, the rockfish season for legal fishermen ended with a whimper, Candus Thomson writes for the Sun.

GOV’T SHUTDOWN: The Sun’s Jamie Smith Hopkins and Andrea Walker report that a compromise brewing in Congress could delay a government shutdown until mid-March, but anxiety remains high among federal workers and contractors in Maryland — one of the states most dependent on federal spending.

LEAD PAINT GRANTS: Baltimore, where thousands of buildings contain lead-based paint that can poison young children, has lost federal funding for abatement programs due to mismanagement of its most recent grant, Timothy Wheeler writes for the Sun.

MCDONOUGH FUND-RAISER: The Inside Charm City blogs writes that Del. Pat McDonough, who is running against U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger next year, is holding a campaign event later this month with Christine O’Donnell, failed U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware.

You won’t find O’Donnell on the new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” according to an AP report in the Salisbury Daily Times.

FORMER STATE SENATOR DIES: Elinor Louise Gee Murphy, who became a state senator in 1982 when she had been selected to replace John Carroll Byrnes when he was appointed to the Circuit Court, died of cancer Feb. 15 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. She was 88, Jacques Kelly reports for the Sun.

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