May 17, 2011

State Roundup, May 17, 2011

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LIMIT ‘LUMP SUM’: Following its own probe reported Sunday, the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz writes that House delegates now vow to seek limits to the amount of contributions that candidates can label as “lump sum” payments, a description that denies citizens a thorough look at campaign finances.

The Sun editorial board is endorsing putting limits on how much a candidate can label lump sum donations, saying that without disclosure, we simply have to take candidates at their word that the money came from hundreds of little-guy donations.

TOLL ALSO RISES: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post is urging its readers to closely follow the debate over the proposals to raise bridge tolls throughout Maryland.

Myranda Stephens of WBFF-TV reports that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris hopes to put the brakes on proposed toll hikes across the state and the country.

DREAM ACT RALLIES: Supporters of the law to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants will hold two rallies today in Wheaton and Baltimore, Sarah Breitenbach reports for the Gazette.

CIGAR SHIPMENTS: Del. Michael Smigiel says he will use the rare fall General Assembly meeting to introduce legislation ending the state’s new ban on premium cigar shipments, writes the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz.

BIRTH CERTIFICATE FEES: Alan Brody of the Gazette reports that in addition to the General Assembly doubling fees for birth certificates requested through the state health department to $24 for fiscal 2012, counties across the state are increasing how much they charge citizens to obtain the same records.

SECOND WIND: The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach Maryland’s League of Conservation Voters and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network will host three strategy sessions this weekend, encouraging advocates for wind energy to join in a discussion about how to move legislation forward in the next General Assembly session.

TRASH TO ENERGY: David Hill of the Washington Times writes that Gov. Martin O’Malley finds himself at potential odds this week with two of his biggest supporters — fellow Democrats and environmental groups — over a bill that would put waste-to-energy plants in the same renewable-energy class as solar and wind plants.

SMART GROWTH SESSIONS: Marylanders will have the opportunity to learn more about the state’s plans for smart growth during a series of upcoming open houses, Christian Alexandersen writes for the Carroll County Times.

PETER PRINCIPLE: Despite it being relegated to second-tier news by the media, writes Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland, Peter O’Malley’s appointment to the administration of Baltimore city Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was all the buzz for political insiders.

BROWN TO MARRY: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is engaged to be married to Karmen Bailey Walker, Comcast’s director of government affairs, blogs Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

O’MALLEY STUMPS FOR BESHEAR: Gov. O’Malley made a high-profile appearance in Kentucky over the weekend, resurrecting some rhetoric from his strong re-election last year in a state that is a key gubernatorial battleground this year, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

STORMWATER SUIT: The final chapter in federal efforts to enforce water regulations at construction sites in Maryland was written in February when Beazer Homes USA finalized a civil consent degree with the EPA for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, writes Barbara Pash for MarylandReporter.com.

GAS PRICES: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is investigating a Rockville gasoline distributor after prices at the pump jumped 25 cents overnight last week, writes Andrea Siegel for the Sun.

The inquiry takes place as Senate Democrats prepare a vote on legislation that would curb federal tax subsidies to the largest oil companies, a message that U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin carried to a Shell station in Baltimore, blogs the Sun’s John Fritze.

Dave Collins of WBAL-TV reports that some economists don’t believe the ending the subsidy will help prices at the pump and he interviews Cardin. View the video here.

Keith Daniels of WBFF-TV also interviews drivers as they pump gas and speaks with Cardin.

JOHNSON HEARING: Jack Johnson, the former Prince George’s County executive who is the central figure in a sweeping public corruption case, is scheduled to appear in federal court today for a plea agreement hearing, reports Ruben Castaneda for the Post.

WBAL-TV reports that Johnson intends to plead guilty to at least one of the charges, bringing a swift end to a case that embarrassed the wealthy Washington suburb.

CHARTER PETITION: Patti Borda of the Frederick News Post reports that lead petitioner Ellis Burruss is concerned that the Frederick County Board of Elections denied voters’ rights when it invalidated a petition to elect a charter writing board, and calls petition requirements unduly restrictive.

MOCO CUTS BUDGET: The Montgomery County Council has agreed to cuts to employee benefits and the public school system, reports Michael Laris for the Post. The school cuts amount to $25 million.

SLOTS REVENUE: Local towns and Worcester County got the green light to spend $711,000 they have received in slots-supported tax revenues since the Casino at Ocean Downs opened in January, Jennifer Shutt reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

HOWARD SUPER TO LEAVE: The superintendent of Howard County’s school system, Sydney Cousin, often regarded as one of the best in the nation, said yesterday that he will leave his post when his contract expires next year because of health problems, Joe Burris reports for the Sun.