August 8, 2011

State Roundup, August 8, 2011

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STATE RATING SAFE: Maryland Sen. David Brinkley said the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee was told Friday night that Standard & Poor’s will not lower the state’s credit rating along with the federal government’s, Megan Eckstein reports for the Frederick News Post.

PETITIONERS’ PURSE: Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that the group that successfully petitioned for a state referendum on tuition breaks for illegal immigrants spent about $9,500 on its effort.

REFERENDUMS’ IMPORTANCE: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that while the process of petitioning an issue to referendum, plus the legal challenges and counter challenges make for a messy situation, it is better to have the right to referendum than not.

MINORITY GROWTH ALTERS DISTRICTS: A surging minority population and shrinking number of white conservatives in Washington’s Maryland suburbs could dramatically change how the region is represented in Congress, Aaron Davis reports for the Post. Here’s a Post graphic showing the changing demographics.

TAKING THE WEST: Democratic strategists are eyeing the traditionally conservative Western Maryland districts, noting social changes and considering going after U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s seat, reports Annie Linskey for the Sun.

Michael Workman of the Sun created a map to show the current districts’ majority.

PENSION PROPOSAL: The state teachers union is rejecting most of the final recommendations of the special pension commission, particularly its proposal to shift half the funding of pensions onto county school boards or governments, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

TAX HOLIDAY COST, BENEFIT: The Sun’s Andrea Walker writes that while retailers are banking on Maryland shoppers packing stores beginning Aug. 14 to take advantage of a temporary rollback of the 6% state sales tax, the state is expected to lose as much as $15 million in revenue because of the weeklong tax holiday.

The editorial board for the Carroll County Times writes that although opponents who call Maryland’s upcoming tax-free week a gimmick may have a point, ultimately consumers do benefit and local businesses get additional sales.

BEYOND SEPTIC: In an op-ed piece, Tom Horton Timothy Wheeler in the Sun writes that Maryland builders have to move beyond the outdated technology that dictates that septic systems are an efficient means for getting rid of waste and a proper use of land and should seriously consider Gov. O’Malley’s proposal.

JACOBS COMES THROUGH: State Sen. Nancy Jacobs’ subtle and nuanced dealings with the Maryland Transportation Authority just may be her constituents’ biggest asset in dealing with the proposed toll bridge hikes, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun.

YAPPY HOUR: Don Markus of the Sun writes that the new state law that allows restaurants to let dogs into the outdoor dining facilities is making Ellicott City residents and one restaurant in particular very happy.

CURRIE WILL STAND TRIAL: A federal judge in Baltimore has denied efforts by state Sen. Ulysses Currie and two former executives of Shoppers Food Warehouse to throw out bribery and extortion charges, leaving the prosecutor’s case intact, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

O’MALLEY SPARS WITH SESSIONS: Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s appearance yesterday morning on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour included a sharp back-and-forth about jobs with Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

John Wagner of the Post also took notice of the exchange.

O’Malley also said that the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating was not justified, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

CRABBING’S FUTURE: A group of Maryland crabbers have been meeting in recent months to develop proposals for improving their future, taking aim at some state regulations and policies, Timothy Wheeler reports for the Sun. Click on the video link above the article to hear an interview with crabber Billy Rice.

REELING IN POACHING: Poaching in any fishery is not unknown, opines the editorial board for the Sun. But the 13 tons caught in illegal and untended gill nets in the Bay this past winter was large enough to enrage the public and raise questions about whether the commercial fishery has been adequately managed. Soon, the state DNR will formally propose regulations to curb such abuse.

CASINO TAKE UP: Maryland’s two casinos generated more than $15.5 million in July, a good start for the state’s fiscal year, according to a story in the Baltimore Business Journal. Hollywood Casino Perryville, with 1,500 slot machines, brought in $10.2 million in July, up 16% from June’s $8.8 million.

ROSECROFT TODAY, TOMORROW: Rosecroft Raceway, the storied horse track in Prince George’s County that closed last summer, could reopen as soon as next week, the Post’s John Wagner reports. And already, the new owners are plotting its next chapter: as the site of one of Maryland’s largest casinos.

O’MALLEY WADES INTO CITY COUNCIL RACE: Boys of Baraka star and Baltimore city council hopeful De’Von Brown, who is 21, got a boost from Maryland’s top Democrat this weekend, capturing the endorsement of Gov. O’Malley, Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun.

CARDIN SUPPORTS WORKERS: Sen. Ben Cardin told a large crowd of federal employees in Suitland on Friday that Maryland’s congressional delegation will stand with them as Washington begins the process of looking for deep spending cuts under the new debt ceiling law, John Fritze blogs for the Sun.

DOVER BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: Caroline County officials have sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in hopes of garnering congressional support to replace the ailing Dover Bridge on state Route 331, reports Daniel Divilio for the Easton Star Democrat.