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Published on July 6th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, July 6, 2011

JOHNSON RESIGNS: The Post’s Ruben Castaneda and Miranda Spivack report that Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson, who pleaded guilty last week to destroying evidence in a federal investigation, submitted her resignation yesterday.

While Johnson’s resignation is effective July 31, Johnson’s Council colleagues unanimously called on her to resign immediately, and County Executive Rushern Baker reiterated his request for her to do so, according to an AP story in the Carroll County Times.

Meeting in executive session, her fellow County Council members stripped her of her powers and called for her to resign immediately, Daniel Leaderman and Daniel Valentine report for the Gazette.

Johnson was also stripped of her of her staff, her government car and her county-issued cellphone, reports Andrea Noble of the Washington Times.

Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that despite the council’s urging, Johnson is not required to resign immediately, and will continue to collect her $96,417 county salary until she leaves at the end of July.

SLOTS REVENUE DROPS: Overall slots revenue from Maryland’s two casinos declined in June for the second straight month, dropping 5% to $12.61 million, reports Hanah Cho for the Sun. Hollywood Casino Perryville, the larger of the two, brought in $784,000 less than in May, while the Casino at Ocean Downs took in nearly $3.78 million last month, up from $3.69 million in May.

Here’s Jon Sham’s updated interactive slots chart for the Daily Record showing how much money has come in and where it is to go.

Perryville averaged $196.05 per machine, per day during the month, while Ocean Downs generated $168.35 per machine, per day, writes Ryan Sharrow for the Baltimore Business Journal.

SLOTS DEVELOPER CLAIMS BIAS: A Canadian developer whose bid to build a slots casino in Baltimore has been dismissed by the city has filed a federal lawsuit against a state gambling commission, contending that the newest bidding process discriminates against companies owned by white men, the Sun’s Jamie Smith Hopkins reports.

EXEMPTION SOUGHT: Maryland will request an exemption from a new requirement by Medicare that hospitals demonstrate their quality of care, since, according to the executive director of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, the health reform act says you can be exempt if you show you already meet or exceed the national requirement, reports Barbara Pash for MarylandReporter.com.

UNION DUES: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports on the contract allowing AFSCME to collect dues from thousands of state employees who are not members of the union. Two percent more will be deducted from their paychecks and not everyone’s happy about it.

SHA AUDIT: Jeff Abell of WBFF-TV writes about the legislative audit of the State Highway Administration that found potential ethical violations when handling contracts.

BUY LOCAL CHALLENGE: Gov. Martin O’Malley hosts the state’s Buy Local Cookout on July 21 at Government House, the governor’s residence in Annapolis, launching Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge Week, July 23 through 31, during which residents are encouraged to eat at least one locally grown, made or harvested product each day, writes Jay Thompson for the Towson Times.

NEW LAWS: Writing about several new laws governing Rover, restaurants and alcohol, Kevin James Shay of the Gazette reports that there are a few businesses tasting sour grapes over the alcohol tax hike that took effect Friday.

SELLING GREEN, SEEING RED: A manufacturer’s rep for an energy-saving device finds closed doors as he touts his product with state government, writes Barbara Pash of MarylandReporter.com.

HEALTH REFORM: The Urbanite’s Ron Cassie tries to find out the chances for the survival of President Obama’s health care reform measure.

CAMPAIGN ANARCHY: In an op-ed piece, Christopher Peters, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore, writes that recent Supreme Court rulings suggest that the court’s conservative majority is inching toward a vision of “separation of campaign and state” — an anything-goes model of elections in which the people lack the authority to regulate the terms of their own democracy.

REDISTRICTING POLITICS: It is a mark of progress, of sorts, that a decade after people wondered if the redistricting process under then-Gov. Parris Glendening would be all for show and quite political in nature, nobody is asking questions like that, opines the editorial board of the Sun. This time, there is virtually no doubt that the redistricting process is fundamentally political in nature and governed by self-interested politicians.

Sarah Breitenbach of the Gazette reports that state Sen. Jamie Raskin has said that O’Malley’s five-member panel overseeing legislative and congressional redistricting won’t hear much from Montgomery County lawmakers until there is more direction from state leaders.

ONE GOP PLAN: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, the Republican lawmaker who captured Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in last year’s midterm election, would have his primary residence drawn out of his district under congressional boundaries proposed yesterday by his own state party, John Fritze blogs for the Sun. “The party was attempting to draw a map that is compact and doesn’t really take partisanship into consideration,” said a Harris spokesman.

BARTLETT TO RUN: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, 85, will seek an 11th term in Congress, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

SCHOOL OVERSPENDING: Writing for the Annapolis Capital op-ed page, Michael Collins gives a short history of the Anne Arundel Board of Education and its spendthrift ways, then makes a few suggestions on how the Arundel County Council could rein in the problem.

CITY CANDIDATES: The Sun’s Julie Scharper compiled the final list of candidates running in Baltimore city elections.

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