June 2, 2011

State Roundup, June 2, 2011

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PETITION EXCEEDS: Organizers of an effort to repeal a Maryland law granting college tuition breaks to illegal immigrants say they have collected 62,496 signatures to force a public vote — a significantly higher number than an estimate provided 24 hours before, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Pamela Wood of the Annapolis Capital writes that that’s more than the 40,000 signatures organizers of the petition drive predicted earlier in the day and significantly more than the 18,579 needed to keep the drive alive.

Del. Neil Parrott estimates that 48,000 of the submitted signatures are valid and, by June 30, the group needs a total of 55,736 valid signatures to hold up implementation of the law and put it on the November 2012 ballot, blogs Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

TAXI PACT TABLED: After hours of hearing about taxi drivers afraid of losing their jobs, past labor disputes and companies feeling shut out of the bidding process, the Board of Public Works yesterday tabled a four-year $7.1 million contract to run the taxi concession at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, writes Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

IN THE CARDS: Developer Mark Vogel doesn’t want slots at his Oxon Hill hotel; he says he will be seeking a gaming license that would allow him and his partners to put games such as blackjack, poker and pai gow at the hotel, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.

PRO POLLUTION DIET: The EPA’s “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay – plans drawn up by the six bay watershed states and Washington, D.C. – may be the last realistic hope for a significant improvement in bay water quality in our lifetimes, opines the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: In his Washington Examiner blog, Mark Newgent writes that renewable energy requirements are a “shell game” that ultimately rely on old fossil fuels to be reliable and sustainable.

LAND-USE POLICIES: The Sun’s Nicole Fuller writes that zoning restrictions and development and land-use policy throughout the state has largely been left up to local jurisdictions, some of which created strict guidelines and others which let its government officials decide.

MTA ACTIONS REPUDIATED: Two photographers who were detained by Maryland Transit Administration police this year and told they were forbidden to take pictures of MTA facilities expressed relief yesterday after the head of the agency flatly repudiated the officers’ actions, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

MARJORIE HOLT: Annapolis Capital columnist Paul Foer writes that while he disagreed with that strong conservative voice of Marjorie Holt, who is now 90 but who represented Anne Arundel County in Congress 30 years ago, he hopes the county will again have its own strong voice in Congress, but this time more liberal.

SCHAEFER’S WILLS, PART II: Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew writes that the two wills of former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, the first of which just recently surfaced, tell the story of a struggle between two tough women and whether Schaefer would end up controlling his own life as it came to a close. Be sure to read the comments as well, one of which is from one of Schaefer’s former aides.

CARDIN ON ISSUES: WYPR’s Dan Rodricks sat down with U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin yesterday to discuss Medicare, the debt ceiling, Israel and other issues.

EDWARDS ON DEBT CEILING: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards appeared on the Marc Steiner Show yesterday to discuss her “yea” vote to raise the federal debt ceiling and what needs to be done to handle this complicated issue.

GINGRICH TO ATTEND: For the second year in a row, the Maryland Republican Party annual Red, White and Blue dinner seems to be the go-to place for would-be presidential candidates, blogs the Post’s John Wagner. This year, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been booked as the “featured guest” at the June 23 event.

TROUBLE IN MONTGOMERY: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that while many local governments are trying to rein in the unsustainable pension and health care costs of its public employees, in Montgomery County, the effort has resulted in traditional political allies facing off against each other.

PETITION EFFORT REPORT: A new report details petition efforts behind attempting to create a charter-writing board for Frederick County, Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette writes.

BEACH BREAK: Baltimore County Exec Kevin Kamenetz is promoting local beaches in a video campaign in which he jumps in the water fully clothed, writes Laura Vozzella for the Sun. Scroll down to view the video.

SMITH JOINS SMITH: Former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith has joined his son at the Towson law firm of Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, blogs Raven Hill of the Sun.