August 25, 2011

State Roundup, August 25, 2011

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SEEKS RELEASE OF REDISTRICTING PLAN: A coalition of African-American and minority groups called on Gov. Martin O’Malley to release his proposed redistricting maps well before the deadlines, allowing time to digest the information before lawmakers vote on the new lines, Annie Linskey blogs in the Sun.

Black leaders want to ensure that new congressional maps reflect growth in the state’s African-American population, now about 30%, and to ensure that black voters aren’t spread out in a way that dilutes influence, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

CONGRESS & TAX HIKES: Just how deeply Congress slashes the federal budget will likely determine whether Maryland legislators choose to pursue tax increases during next year’s General Assembly, reports David Hill for the Washington Times.

Following up on several recent stories, Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner writes that Gov. O’Malley and members of the General Assembly are examining tax increases as part of a budget deal to close the state’s projected $1 billion shortfall in fiscal 2013.

ROSAPEPE WILL RUN: Following up on its own scoop from yesterday, Maryland Juice goes out on a limb and says that yes indeed, state Sen. Jim Rosapepe will run for comptroller if Peter Franchot runs for governor.

APPEALS COURT IMPACT: The Maryland Court of Appeals has yet to write an opinion explaining why it decided that the Anne Arundel slots issue could go to referendum, strangely impacting the challenge by Casa de Maryland to the referendum on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

O’MALLEY ON INFANT MORTALITY: Following the release of the latest figures that show Maryland making progress in cutting its infant mortality rate, Gov. O’Malley touted the latest decline — from 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009 to 6.7 per 1,000 last year — at a news conference in Baltimore, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

WAR BETWEEN THE STATES: Maryland’s Democratic Party and Virginia Republicans continue their bickering over whose governor is handling his state’s budget better, blogs the Sun’s Annie Linskey. The mudslinging reached new heights when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was named head of the Republican Governors Association, putting him in a direct path with Gov. O’Malley, who heads the Democratic Governors Association.

The latest came yesterday from the Maryland Democratic Party, which accused McDonnell of boasting about an “illusionary” budget surplus, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.

LESS STARCH IN SCHOOL: Proposed federal nutritional requirements for the National School Lunch Program would allow school cafeterias to offer students no more than one cup of starchy vegetables per week, presenting a difficult challenge to many Maryland school districts feeding a potato-loving clientele, reports Laura Vozzella for the Sun.

RARE BEETLE PROTECTED: The Obama administration is providing $2.4 million to protect endangered Puritan beetles living in cliffs overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, reports Timothy Wheeler for the Sun. The land acquired in Calvert and Cecil counties with the federal grant boosts the rare insect’s chances of survival, but also gives a ray of hope to Calvert bayfront homeowners who’ve been barred from shoring up their crumbling cliffs because of the federally protected beetles on their property.

WHY BUFFETT IS WRONG: In an op-ed piece for the Sun, former Republican candidate for governor Brian Murphy takes on the very wealthy Warren Buffett, who is advocating higher taxes for the very wealthy like himself.

15 SEEK JOHNSON SEAT: Abby Brownback of the Gazette writes that 15 candidates have filed to run for the vacant District 6 seat on the Prince George’s County Council – of late held by Leslie Johnson – in next month’s special primary election.

OUTSOURCING ADVICE: A wave of outside perspective could be headed toward Frederick County in its effort to save taxpayer dollars with strategies like outsourcing public services, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

PLAN FOR FREDERICK: Four Republican state lawmakers from Frederick County who are proposing their own redistricting map insisted that the Democratic leadership in Annapolis has forced them to band together and produce a plan for Frederick, reports Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette.

LEOPOLD VETOES: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold issued 16 vetoes yesterday afternoon to nix controversial zoning changes that would increase development in southern Anne Arundel County.

CITY CANDIDATE SHOT: A Baltimore City Council candidate was shot with a pellet gun while campaigning in her neighborhood last week, blogs the Sun’s Julie Scharper.