June 7, 2011

State Roundup, June 7, 2011

Print More

LITTLE ACCESS: A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley called boasting by an Annapolis lobbying powerhouse about its participation in a gubernatorial trade mission “unfortunate” and said the lobbyist would have “little, if any” access to the governor during that time, writes Nick Sohr for the Daily Record.

HIGH COURT REFUSES: Supporters of the controversial new Maryland law to extend in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants cheered the Supreme Court’s refusal yesterday to take up a challenge to a similar law in California, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

SIGNATURE VALIDATION: Local elections boards have now counted 17,892 signatures on the petition drive to overturn the law granting resident tuition to illegal immigrants, putting them less than 700 signatures away from the first target, blogs Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

SLOTS REVENUE DECLINE: Maryland saw its first decline in slots revenue in 2011 after its two casinos brought in $266,537 less in May than in April, reports Rachel Bernstein for the Daily Record.  Here’s Jon Sham’s inactive chart for the Record.

FRACKING STUDY: Gov. O’Malley has ordered an in-depth study of shale-gas drilling, which is supposed to be complete in December, before the next regular session of the legislature reports the Sun’s Jay Hancock.

While drilling could provide billions in tax revenue and jobs, blogs John Wagner of the Post, environmentalists have warned of potential hazards.

Environmentalists are applauding O’Malley’s cautious approach, reports WTOP’s Hank Silverberg.

Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes about the political and financial implications of fracking.

GIFTING THE GOV:
In a recently filed ethics report, O’Malley listed a slew of Christmas gifts received in 2010, among them were boxes of chocolate, Christmas ornaments, coffee mugs and sweatshirts bearing the names of schools and other institutions he had visited, writes John Wagner in The Washington Post.

GROUND RENT LAW CHALLENGE: Judges on Maryland’s highest court questioned a new law that requires people owning ground rents to register or lose them, an attempt by lawmakers to end the antiquated property laws, writes the Sun’s Andrea Siegel.

ANONYMOUS JURIES: According to an AP report in the Carroll County Times, Maryland’s highest court has voted to allow anonymous juries in criminal trials when a judge believes there are concerns about juror harassment, tampering or safety.

CARDIN CALLS ON BIDEN:
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin was one of five Senate Democrats — all of whom are up for reelection next year — to sign a letter to Vice President Joe Biden asking that the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare be taken off the table as part of the ongoing White House deficit talks, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

TOLL PROTEST: Dozens of angry motorists protested proposed toll increases on the Hatem Bridge. WBAL TV’s David Collins has video.

CARROLL HIRING: Carroll County government will fill 21 positions, including two department directors, in the next few weeks, Christian Alexandersen reports for the Carroll County Times.

PUGH TO RUN: State Sen. Catherine Pugh officially announced her candidacy for Baltimore mayor on Monday night, creating a more crowded ballot, reports WBFF.

Other contenders include incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors VP Jody Landers, former city planning director Otis Rolley, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway and Republican Vicki Ann Harding, Angela Jackson reports for WBAL-AM.

AA ZONING INPUT: Anne Arundel County residents will have an additional opportunity to weigh in on proposed land zoning changes — a move made in response to community complaints, Nicole Fuller reports for the Sun.

HOMESTEAD TAX CREDIT: The editorial board of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that the Wicomico County Council should approve Executive Rick Pollitt’s request and change the 10% Homestead tax credit to 0%, freezing assessments at the current amount. This would stabilize property taxes, and the revenue cap would still prevent steep increases in the rate.