July 14, 2011

State Roundup, July 14, 2011

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REDISTRICTING DATES: The Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee has announced the dates, times and places for the first three of 12 public hearings around the state to hear from Maryland residents about the drawing of congressional and legislative district lines, apparently rejecting a suggestion from Senate President Mike Miller to reduce the number of hearings, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

BARTLETT OR HARRIS: Donna Edwards, a fiery liberal with three years of congressional experience under her belt, appears to be trumping veteran U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer when it comes to convincing their Democratic colleagues which of the state’s Republican-held seats to target in the upcoming redistricting process, writes Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland. And for now, it looks as if they will target Rep. Roscoe Bartlett rather than Rep. Andy Harris.

Hoyer, who expects Maryland’s congressional delegation to submit a proposed reapportionment plan to state legislative leaders by the end of the month, says his priority is giving former U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil a strong shot at winning back the 1st District seat won by Harris, Alan Brody reports in SoMdNews.com.

FOCUS ON JOBS: In a column for the Sun, former Cabinet Secretary Larry Hogan who now runs an organization called ChangeMaryland, writes that the upcoming General Assembly special session should focus on job creation, in light of the recent study that found the state ranking last in that area.

100,000-PLUS: State officials sifting through thousands of pages of petitions reported yesterday afternoon that a group trying to repeal the in-state tuition law have 102,338 valid signatures, nearly twice the number needed to trigger a referendum, Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE: Pat Warren of WJZ-TV reports that Baltimore city Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has joined the call for legalizing same sex marriage, but Del. Emmett Burns say opponents won’t let it happen.

STATE CENTER: A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge cleared the way yesterday for a legal challenge against the procurement procedures of the proposed $1.5 billion State Center development, reports Melody Simmons of the Daily Record.

Meanwhile, after state officials requested that a Maryland Public Policy Institute study critical of the State Center project be rescinded, study authors refuse and pick apart their objections, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

TOLL HEARING: The Maryland Transportation Authority is holding another public forum on toll increases, this one this afternoon on the Eastern Shore, where the likely topic will be the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll hike, writes Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times.

BWI HITS RECORD: 2,078,548 passengers traveled through BWI in May, according to an AP report in the Daily Record. That is an increase of 6.8% over May 2010, and an all-time May record.

PLEDGE INSTEAD OF PRAYER: Wishing for a pledge rather than a prayer, Sun columnist Dan Rodricks takes a virtual tour of local governments throughout Maryland to see how they handle the sticky question of inserting religion into their meetings.

PIPKIN BLASTS O’MALLEY: State Sen. E.J. Pipkin has told Cecil County commissioners, during a meeting with Cecil’s legislative delegation, that Gov. O’Malley has launched a war on rural Maryland, reports Jacob Owens for the Cecil Whig.

MO CO SMOKING BAN: The Montgomery County Council approved a smoking ban at playgrounds and indoor common spaces, asking neighbors to report offenders, Amy Myers reports for the Washington Examiner. Howard County has banned smoking in its parks.

11 SEEK CIRCUIT POST: Reporting for the Aegis,  Erika Butler writes that District Court Judge Victor Butanis and State’s Attorney Joe Cassilly are among the 11 lawyers seeking to be appointed as the county’s next Circuit Court judge for Harford County.

HOLTON CHARGES DISMISSED: The Sun’s Julie Scharper reports that Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton’s three-year battle against allegations of bribery and perjury came to a close yesterday as Maryland’s highest court upheld a Baltimore judge’s decision to dismiss the most serious charges against her.