March 11, 2011

State Roundup, March 11, 2011

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: The long-debated bill is scheduled for a House vote this morning, but it also will be getting a last-minute committee vote. Del. John Olszewski Jr., who is still on the fence about the bill, proposed a late amendment on Thursday that would delete language in the bill specifying specific camp and counseling programs that religious organizations do not have to provide to same-sex couples, reports The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz. Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette writes about the Judiciary Committee amendment and Del. John Olszewski’s role.

The Post’s John Wagner writes that the fact that the Judiciary Committee is considering another amendment so late in the game shows how close the vote tally is expected to be. An Associated Press story in the Herald-Mail points out that a new amendment would force the bill to go back to the Senate, perhaps jeopardizing its chances at final passage.

One thing is certain, Bykowicz blogged: It will be a close vote.

What did Del. Tiffany Alston do during the House Judiciary Committee’s vote on same-sex marriage? The Post’s Avis Thomas-Lester has the story.

Meanwhile, Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley has been speaking out in support of the proposal, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland posted a podcast about the issues that are not being discussed in the same-sex marriage debate.

STATE PENSIONS: House Republicans are turning to Montgomery County in proposing a more extensive pension reform plan than the one submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette. Lawmakers are expected to shift their focus to fiscal issues in the coming weeks, with the state’s $35 billion shortfall in outstanding pensions and retiree health costs an important element.

MILLIONAIRES’ TAX: With deep cuts looming and a large population of millionaires in the state, Del. Jolene Ivey proposed legislation to make the millionaires’ tax – 6.25% on all income greater than $1 million – permanent, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

The Post’s Aaron Davis reports that Ivey tried to make this once-temporary tax a permanent fixture last year, but it was scuttled in the run up to the election.

SCHOOL AID: Aid to education is the key sticking point in budget negotiations, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette, as lawmakers seek to fend off cuts to Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

DRIVING WITH A PHONE: The House of Delegates approved a bill that makes talking on a cell phone while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull drivers over for doing it, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

Robert Lang of WBAL-FM has audio.

What’s next? A ban on having a conversation while driving, ask The Diamondback’s opinionators.

INSURANCE EXCHANGE: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has proposed amendments to a bill creating a health insurance exchange that would make it a public-private entity, reports Emily Mullin of the Baltimore Business Journal.

NEW LEGISLATORS: Freshmen delegates have been taking a more visible role in House deliberations in recent weeks, Alan Brody and Sarah Breitenbach write in the Gazette.

RECALLING LEGISLATORS: A proposal to let Marylanders decide whether they should have the power to remove elected state leaders charged with a crime appears to have died in the General Assembly, Daniel Valentine reports in the Gazette.

STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS: The Daily Record’s opinionators call closed meetings an insult to the democratic process as they praise an Associated Press report for shining a spotlight on closed-door “stakeholder meetings” as a way that business is done in Annapolis.

O’MALLEY AGENDA: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar analyzes the back-story on much of Gov. O’Malley’s agenda and the push for tax hikes.

FILM TAX BREAKS: Washington County’s top tourism official was one of many testifiers advocating for tax breaks for films that spend more than $500,000 in Maryland, reports the Herald-Mail’s Andrew Schotz.

ABANDONED REFRIGERATORS: Del. Neil Parrott explained his bill that would make abandoning a refrigerator a civil offense – and no longer a crime that carries a jail sentence, Andrew Schotz of the Herald-Mail reports.

VETS HOME DONATIONS: A bill allowing direct donations to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home unanimously passed the House of Delegates last week, reports Jeff Newman of The Enterprise.

TELEMEDICINE: In the Gazette, Jeff Newman reports that rural legislators are pushing to quickly resolve the problems over reimbursement for physicians providing care via telemedicine.

PASSING A SCHOOL BUS: A bill under consideration could treat passing a school bus that has activated its stop sign as a moving violation that could put points on a violator’s license, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully.

AGAINST EDUCATION CUTS: Hundreds of supporters of Baltimore City Schools rallied against proposed funding cuts to public education on Lawyers Mall on Thursday night. Oliver Hulland of Baltimore Brew was there and posted a slideshow of photos.

LINE-ITEM VETO: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold line-item vetoed two amendments added to a bill curtailing bargaining rights for public safety employees – signing the rest into law — and some county council members are crying foul, reports The Capital’s Scott Daugherty.

A WBAL-TV report looks at the Anne Arundel County situation in light of recent anti-union policy in Wisconsin.

PG PLAN: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is expected to unveil a $2.7 billion spending plan for the county on Monday. The plan reportedly includes more money for schools, police and fire, and $50 million to stimulate economic development, The Post’s Miranda Spivack reports.

GREEN PROJECT HOLDUP: Red tape and activism have ensnared six stalled energy projects that would have had a $19.5 billion economic impact on the state, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reports The Daily Record’s Ben Mook.

HARFORD REDISTRICTING: Harford County Democrats have filed a lawsuit to try to stop the all-Republican redistricting commission appointed by the County Council from making any decisions, arguing that their party will be shut out of the political process for 10 years, reports The Sun’s Mary Gail Hare.

WIND POWER: Offshore wind power will save money, clean up the environment, and save jobs, according to a study released on Thursday, WBAL-TV reports.

BONDS: $15 million in bonds are up for grabs for community projects, and interested groups will be making their case to get some over the weekend. reports John Rydell of WBFF.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on hip-hop’s Darryl “D.M.C.” Mc Daniels; the MoCo chess finale; Tony O’Donnell and the primary date change; E.J. Pipkin and texting; Andrew Serafini’s late pension bill; and MoCo Council member Hans Riemer.

REMEMBERING BRODER: MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick remembers The Post’s David Broder as a journalist worth emulating.

CELL PHONE DOGS: Benjamin Ford in the Gazette has a feature story on the corrections department’s cell-phone sniffing dogs.

TUBMAN V. HANSON: Blair Lee’s column weighs in on the controversy about Maryland representatives in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Lee favors history and the old white guy, over racial and gender quotas.

GAY MARRIAGE: Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette writes about the Judiciary Committee amendment and Del. John Olszewski’s role.

STATE PENSIONS: House Republicans are turning to Montgomery County in proposing a more extensive pension reform plan than the one submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette. Lawmakers are expected to shift their focus to fiscal issues in the coming weeks, with the state’s $35 billion shortfall in outstanding pensions and retiree health costs an important element.

NEW LEGISLATORS: Freshmen delegates have been taking a more visible role in House deliberations in recent weeks, Alan Brody and Sarah Breitenbach write in the Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on hip-hop’s Darryl “D.M.C.” Mc Daniels; the MoCo chess finale; Tony O’Donnell and the primary date change; E.J. Pipkin and texting; Andrew Serafini’s late pension bill; and MoCo Council member Hans Riemer.

CELL PHONE DOGS: Benjamin Ford in the Gazette has a feature story on the corrections department’s cell-phone sniffing dogs.

SCHOOL AID: Aid to education is the key sticking point in budget negotiations, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette, as lawmakers seek to fend off cuts to Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

TELEMEDICINE: In the Gazette, Jeff Newman reports that rural legislators are pushing to quickly resolve the problems over reimbursement for physicians

GAY MARRIAGE: Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette writes about the Judiciary Committee amendment and Del. John Olszewski’s role.

STATE PENSIONS: House Republicans are turning to Montgomery County in proposing a more extensive pension reform plan than the one submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette. Lawmakers are expected to shift their focus to fiscal issues in the coming weeks, with the state’s $35 billion shortfall in outstanding pensions and retiree health costs an important element.

NEW LEGISLATORS: Freshmen delegates have been taking a more visible role in House deliberations in recent weeks, Alan Brody and Sarah Breitenbach write in the Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on hip-hop’s Darryl “D.M.C.” Mc Daniels; the MoCo chess finale; Tony O’Donnell and the primary date change; E.J. Pipkin and texting; Andrew Serafini’s late pension bill; and MoCo Council member Hans Riemer.

CELL PHONE DOGS: Benjamin Ford in the Gazette has a feature story on the corrections department’s cell-phone sniffing dogs.

SCHOOL AID: Aid to education is the key sticking point in budget negotiations, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette, as lawmakers seek to fend off cuts to Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

TELEMEDICINE: In the Gazette, Jeff Newman reports that rural legislators are pushing to quickly resolve the problems over reimbursement for physicians providing care via telemedicine.

RECALLING LEGISLATORS: A proposal to let Marylanders decide whether they should have the power to remove elected state leaders charged with a crime appears to have died in the General Assembly, Daniel Valentine reports in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY AGENDA: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar analyzes the back-story on much of Gov. O’Malley’s agenda and the push for tax hikes.

TUBMAN V. HANSON: Blair Lee’s column weighs in on the controversy about Maryland representatives in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Lee favors history and the old white guy, over racial and gender quotas.

providing care via telemedicine.

RECALLING LEGISLATORS: A proposal to let Marylanders decide whether they should have the power to remove elected state leaders charged with a crime appears to have died in the General Assembly, Daniel Valentine reports in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY AGENDA: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar analyzes the back-story on much of Gov. O’Malley’s agenda and the push for tax hikes.

TUBMAN V. HANSON: Blair Lee’s column weighs in on the controversy about Maryland representatives in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Lee favors history and the old white guy, over racial and gender quotas.