July 15, 2011

State Roundup, July 15, 2011

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AAA BOND RATING: All three bond rating agencies have reaffirmed Maryland’s AAA rating, but are concerned with the state’s ongoing pension liabilities and dependence on federal spending, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.

The rating helps determine the interest rate for paying back bonds, reports Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal. The better a state’s rating, the lower the interest rate.

O’MALLEY ON GOP GOVERNORS: Gov. Martin O’Malley, head of the Democratic Governors’ Association, chided his Republican counterparts for not playing a constructive role in federal debt ceiling negotiations at a news conference in Utah, where the National Governors Association summer gathering is going on, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

EDWARDS AS LEADER: After three years of serving in Congress, Rep. Donna Edwards has become a prominent voice among liberal Democrats, reports The Washington Post’s Ben Pershing.

PARROTT SPENDS UNDER $14,000: Recent campaign finance filings show that Del. Neil Parrott spent under $14,000 in his successful campaign to bring Maryland’s DREAM Act to referendum in 2012, blogs The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

PETITION ANALYSIS: Medill News Service’s Gillian Brockell reports in the Frederick News-Post on what the successful petition drive to bring the DREAM Act to the ballot box really means – a victory for grassroots organizers and a gauge of how average citizens feel about illegal immigrants, or a joining together of a minority of voters.

Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar writes about the political implications for the GOP of the petition drive against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

In a Post story from Wednesday, Michael Laris writes about the game-changing nature of the online petition drive.

AGAINST TOLL INCREASES: State Sen. E.J. Pipkin wants an independent investigation to see how the Maryland Transportation Authority came up with proposed toll increases, reports the Easton Star-Democrat’s Daniel Divilio.

WJZ’s Weijia Jiang reports on how others statewide are objecting to the proposed increases.

BLUE DOGS: Del. Galen Claggett is helping organize a group of more center-leaning “Blue Dog Democrats” in Annapolis, who plan to emphasize fiscal responsibility and economic development, reports The Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully.

MINNICK’S CHARGES: Former Del. Daniel Minnick – brother to current Del. Joseph “Sonny” Minnick – a bartender, and two customers have been charged with illegal gambling and wagering following a raid last week when slot machines were removed from Minnick’s Restaurant in Dundalk, reports Nick Madigan and Arthur Hirsch of The Sun. WBAL-TV has video.

CARDIN RAISES $1 MILLION: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s campaign finance report, due to the Federal Election Commission today, will show he raised more than $1 million in the second quarter of 2011 for his 2012 re-election campaign, reports The Sun’s John Fritze.

HARRIS ON CLEAN WATER ACT: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris supported a bill that would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being able to override state decisions, which could make enforcing the Chesapeake Bay’s “pollution diet” difficult, reports the Salisbury Daily Times’ Nicole Gaudiano.

LOAN TIME RUNNING OUT: The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has $28 million left in federal funds to give out through the Emergency Mortgage Assistance program, and all applications to the program must be approved by Sept. 30, reports Jamie Smith Hopkins of The Sun.

STATE CENTER: Baltimore Brew’s Fern Shen takes a look at Judge Althea M. Handy’s rulings to go forward with the lawsuit seeking to stop the $1.5 billion State Center project.

HOMAN INJURY: Baltimore County Budget and Finance Director Keith Dorsey has been named acting county administrative officer after Baltimore County Administrative Officer Fred Homan was hurt in a fall from a horse, reports Patch.com’s Bryan Sears.

Recordings of the 911 calls made when have been made available, reports The Sun’s Arthur Hirsch.

MONTGOMERY LEADERS TO EL SALVADOR: Several Montgomery County leaders are traveling to El Salvador on a trip headed by County Executive Ike Leggett so they can see what the country needs in order to stem emigration to the United States, reports WTOP’s Paul Shinkman.

FREDERICK CHARTER: Frederick County will provide $25,000 to a new charter-writing board, which is responsible for writing a new county charter to put before voters as a referendum question at the November 2012 election, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully.

DRILLING STUDY COMMISSION: Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine talked about the roles that he and State Sen. George Edwards will play on the commission to study drilling in Marcellus shale at the county commissioners’ meeting Thursday, reports Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News.

‘CAYLEE’S LAW:’ Cumberland area legislators talked with the Cumberland Times-News’ Matthew Bieniek about the possibility of a law that could make it a felony crime for a parent or guardian not to report a child missing in a timely fashion.

Some lawmakers question the need for “Caylee’s law” in the wake of the aftermath of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida, Erin Cunningham reports in the Gazette.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette writes about the renewed push for same-sex marriage that began this week, with emphasis on getting Gov. Martin O’Malley on board.

MARK MILLER: More words of praise for WBAL radio’s departing news director from Michael Olesker on Patch.com and Professor Richard Vatz on RedMaryland.

TOWSON U. PRESIDENCY: Former economic development secretary Aris Melissaratos is considering putting his name in for the job as president of Towson University, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

REDISTRICTING: The head of legislative services, Karl Aro, briefed the Prince George’s County delegation on how redrawing of legislative districts will affect them, Daniel Valentine reports in the Gazette.

RATINGS: Legislators question the usefulness of ratings from groups such Maryland Business for Responsive Government and the League of Conservation Voters, Benjamin Ford writes in the Gazette.