June 9, 2011

State Roundup, June 9, 2011

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FRACKING CONS & PROS: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s executive order on natural gas drilling in Western Maryland has three major components, but it ought to have four — companies must disclose the contents of the chemical soup used in the fracking process, opines Sun columnist Dan Rodricks.

Natural gas drilling could provide Western Maryland with a shot at economic development that has nothing to do with the Rocky Gap casino boondoggle, opines the editorial board of the Annapolis Capital. But, it could also create environmental problems that might reach the Chesapeake Bay.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Petroleum Council says O’Malley is delaying investment in the state by ordering the study of the impact of drilling for gas in western Maryland, according to an AP story in the Annapolis Capital.

EMAIL EMBARRASSMENT: An email concerning shredded lead-paint documents discusses a potential ‘big embarrassment’ to state Attorney General Doug Gansler, reports Scott Calvert for the Sun.

HEALTHY PRISONERS: State data suggest there are now more healthy prisoners, which is good public policy, officials say. More diseases are being controlled and fewer costly hospital trips are needed, making the system more efficient, writes the Sun’s Meredith Cohn. And when offenders return to their communities, they’re healthier and less likely to infect others.

DREAM PETITION: Elections officials have verified 31,016 signatures from Maryland voters who want the DREAM Act on next year’s ballot – well beyond the initial requirement of 18,579 signatures, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital. They’ve tossed out 5,821 signatures, for a verification rate of about 84%.

Melinda Roeder of WBFF-TV speaks with state Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat who has joined several Republicans in the petition push to repeal the DREAM Act.

A majority of the Baltimore County Council plans to issue a statement as early as this morning expressing support for the petition that seeks to halt a new state law giving discounted in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, blogs Raven Hill for the Sun.

Councilman Todd Huff said last night that Democratic Councilwoman Vicki Almond and Cathy Bevins will join with him, Council Chairman John Olszewski and David Marks in signing a letter of support, writes Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

GRASMICK ON LEGACY: Maryland’s Nancy Grasmick, the longest serving state superintendent of schools in the country, is retiring at the end of this school year. She joins Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM  to talk about her legacy after 20 years of heading up the Maryland school system. You can hear the podcast here.

AIRPORT TAXIS: Cabbies and cab companies are unhappy as BWI airport officials seek to sign an exclusive contract to provide taxi service, which the Board of Public Works delayed approving last week. Industry insiders agree that this process can be a headache, but the best way to ensure quality, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

ANNAPOLIS BOND PROCEEDS: When finances were tight last summer, reports Elisha Sauers for the Annapolis Capital, Annapolis officials misused millions of dollars in bond proceeds to pay for regular government operations rather than capital improvement projects, according to City Manager Mike Mallinoff.

LIQUOR BOARD PROPOSALS: A series of regulations that the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners is considering regarding alcoholic beverage sales and live entertainment has Laurel officials livid and vowing to pull out all the stops to block the proposed rule changes, Gwendolyn Glenn writes for the Howard County Times.

NEW PUBLISHER: Geordie Wilson, 48, a newspaper executive from the Northeast, will become publisher of the family-owned Frederick News Post on July 5, Clifford Cumber reports for the News Post.