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Published on June 14th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, June 14, 2011

ENVIRO GRADES: The annual rating of legislators’ environmental track records illustrates Environment Maryland’s disappointment with the 2011 legislative session, reports the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

DREAM PETITION: The Sun’s editorial board writes that the GOP’s petition drive to bring Maryland’s DREAM Act to referendum shows that political competition is alive and well in the state.

Many of those petitions were obtained online, which the ACLU is calling illegal, reports Joy Lepola for WBFF-TV.

FEW TESTIFY AT TOLL HEARING: For the second hearing on the proposed fat toll hikes, a grand total of six people testified in Baltimore last night, wrapping up the meeting of the Maryland Transportation Authority in about 45 minutes. That was 20% more witnesses than the five people who testified at last week’s hearing in Shady Grove, blogs Len Lazarick of Maryland Reporter.com.

Though only a handful signed up to speak, several dozen people turned out for the hearing at Digital Harbor High School, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. Click on the video above the story to view some of the testimony.

Dresser also gives state Sen. Nancy Jacobs space to defend her opposition to raising the tolls at one site in her district, then addresses the question of why raising the tolls at every site is fair to all Marylanders.

INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT:
Veteran Maryland educator Bernard Sadusky will take the reins of the state’s public school system on an interim basis following the retirement of Nancy Grasmick, Tim Tooten of WBAL-TV reports.

COSTLY MISTAKES: Marc Kilmer of the Maryland Public Policy Institute opines in a Sun op-ed that while Gov. Martin O’Malley says he wants Maryland to be a “national leader” in health care reform, sometimes it’s best to let others make the first costly mistakes.

NEW CASINO RFP: The state slots commission is ready to issue a new request for proposals to develop a casino at Rocky Gap resort in Western Maryland, Julie Bykowicz blogs for the Sun.

It is the third time the Maryland Video Lottery Terminal Location Commission will seek new bids for the casino at Rocky Gap Resort, writes Daniel Sernovitz of the Baltimore Business Journal.

B’MORE CASINO: According to an AP report in the Daily Record, a Maryland lottery official believes the state is “well on track” to receive proposals to build a casino in Baltimore by a July 28 deadline.

CRASH CONTACT INFO: Holders of Maryland driver’s licenses can now list on their driving records the names of people to be contacted in the case of an emergency under a new MVA program, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun. Here’s the link to update your information on line, should you not wish to visit an MVA kiosk to do so.

BROADBAND BALLYHOO: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that yesterday, federal, state and county officials celebrated the kick-off of the 10-jurisdiction Inter-County Broadband Network that will spend $72 million in federal stimulus funds to connect hospitals, schools, police stations and major government facilities in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

SSA STATEMENTS: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin asked that Social Security officials continue to send annual earnings statements despite budget cuts the Woodlawn-based federal agency is facing, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

GINGRICH TO SPEAK: If you haven’t heard already, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is scheduled as the featured speaker at the Maryland Republican Party’s major annual fundraising event next week, Julie Bykowicz blogs for the Sun.

PG ETHICS REVIEW: In a sweeping examination of ethics rules in Prince George’s County, Miranda Spivack reports for the Post, a task force urged county officials to create an independent inspector general’s office, retool its weak ethics board, set up an anonymous tip line, and overhaul county contracting procedures to ensure that awards are based on merit, not cronyism.

CAMPBELL TO RESIGN: Bryan Sears of Patch.com reports that embattled Baltimore County Republican Central Committee Chairman Tony Campbell told members of the committee he will step down before the group’s next monthly meeting.

Members demanded a quick end to Campbell’s stormy nine-month tenure, blogs Raven Hill for the Sun.

REBUFFING OBAMA: The Sun’s Justin Fenton blogs that the Baltimore City Council adopted a resolution condemning a federal program that is key to President Obama’s strategy to toughen enforcement of immigration laws, joining a chorus of other states and law enforcement agencies across the country in rebuffing the initiative.

FLIRTY TWEET II: Julie Scharper of the Sun blogs that a spokesman says that that flirty tweet sent from state Sen. Catherine Pugh’s cell phone account was actually sent by legislative aide Gary Brown, who thought he was logged in to his personal account. Pugh is running for mayor.

As we know, Pugh isn’t the only politician to come under scrutiny for tweets, according to a story on WBAL.com.

M’OM ON SRB: Annie Linskey of the Sun blogs that Gov. O’Malley gave props to Baltimore’s current mayor at an event while dismissing one of her opponent’s plans to reduce the city’s property taxes as election year promise-mongering.

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