October 7, 2011

State Roundup, October 7, 2011

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REDISTRICTING TALKS: Two of the incumbent Congressmen who could be most impacted by the new map proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley — Rep. Christopher Van Hollen and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett – met with O’Malley about the proposed new map and offered alternatives on Thursday, report Annie Linskey and John Fritze of The Sun.

The Frederick County Board of Commissioners expressed their concern that their county is divided into two districts on the proposed map, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers.

The Salisbury Daily Times staff opines that while some of the other districts in the state are difficult to understand, at least the Eastern Shore is retaining its district.

Proposed redistricting is part of a war on rural Maryland, some lawmakers are saying, according to Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette.

David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs that maybe the proposed redistricting map does the most to help out Rep. John Sarbanes. A second Thursday blog post from Moon examines what others have been saying about O’Malley’s map.

POTENTIAL LAWSUIT: A newly formed black political action committee charges that the proposed redistricting map amounts to racial gerrymandering, and threatens to sue if Gov. O’Malley signs the proposal he received into law, reports Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.

SPECIAL SESSION: Advocates for many causes see the special session of the legislature as another opportunity to gain the attention of lawmakers, Sarah Breitenbach writes in the Gazette.

MARYLAND MILLIONAIRES: In a story picked up by The Daily Record, Capital News Service’s Jeffrey Benzing takes a look at how increasing the tax rate on the United States’ wealthiest people would affect Maryland, which has the nation’s second highest concentration of millionaires.

PHASING OUT BOTTLED WATER: The International Bottled Water Association is less than thrilled about the plan endorsed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to save money by phasing out most of the state’s use of bottled water, reports John Wagner of The Post.

SLOTS SUCCESS? The Daily Record’s opinionators write that after the first full year of slots operations in the state, results are mixed.

TRANSPARENCY COMMITTEE: Senate President Mike Miller and Speaker of the House Michael Busch named 12 members to the new Joint Committee on Transparency and Open Government, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

INCOME GROWTH: According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maryland ranks 12th in per capita income growth over the last 35 years, reports the Baltimore Business Journal.

ANTI-BULLYING: Gov. O’Malley and First Lady Katie O’Malley are partnering with Facebook and the Cartoon Network in a nationwide anti-bullying campaign, which they kicked off on Thursday at Arundel High School. WBAL has video.

CIGARETTE TAX: David Hill of the Washington Times reports on the campaign set to begin next week with the intention of increasing cigarette taxes to $3 a pack. The Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance runs down the list of partners in the coalition that will lobby for the increase. WBFF has video.

LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: Ethics laws for the General Assembly remain too lax, Barry Rascovar opines in the Gazette.

2012 BALLOT: Gazette columnist Blair Lee says next year’s ballot might not be the time to test out voter sentiment on gay marriage with the Dream Act on the ballot.

VACANT HOMES: According to a report released by the U.S. Census, the number of vacant homes on the Eastern Shore grew quickly, while the number of empty houses in Baltimore stayed about the same, reports The Sun’s Steve Kilar and Jamie Smith Hopkins.

TEXTING: Drivers agree that texting while driving can be dangerous, a survey finds, but many say they do it themselves, according to Benjamin Ford in the Gazette.

HAIRSTON WILL GO: Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Joe Hairston, who has led the district since 2000, told The Sun’s Liz Bowie that he will not seek another contract when his current one expires in June.  Bowie blogs that Hairston’s announcement is interesting because he was asked the same question earlier this week and did not comment. WMAR has video.

Patch.com’s Bryan Sears blogs about Hairston’s impending departure using words from state Sen. Delores Kelley, a longtime Hairston supporter: No one stays forever.

TRANSPORATION FUNDING: With money running low for transportation, Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley told Washington County officials that the best strategy is for the state to work on sustaining what it has, reports Heather Keels of the Herald-Mail.

Swaim-Staley also spoke with Allegany County leaders and told them that new transportation funding mechanisms are needed; the days of large federal financial packages could be over, reports Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News.

Don Fry of the Greater Baltimore Committee writes in Center Maryland that transportation mobility is the ultimate jobs bill.

SOLAR POWER: The number of applications for solar installations in Maryland has doubled in the past year, Margie Hyslop reports in the Gazette.

CURRIE TRIAL: According to testimony on Thursday, in order to secure passage of legislation favorable to Shoppers Food Warehouse, state Sen. Ulysses Currie slipped it in at the last minute during the 2005 General Assembly, when it was less likely to be noticed, reports The Sun’s Tricia Bishop. Del. Dereck Davis testified it is not uncommon for members to miss things in the last hectic days of the legislative session, blogs The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

WBAL has a video report on Thursday’s testimony.

The Gazette has a wrap-up of the week in the corruption trial of Sen. Ulysses Currie, written by Daniel Leaderman.

NO DECISION ON BACO BOE: A panel that was supposed to make recommendations about changing the way Baltimore County school board members are chosen decided Thursday not to make any, reports The Sun’s Alison Knezevich.

Bryan Sears of Patch.com said the ultimate recommendation made by the task force was to leave the decision in the hands of the General Assembly – who will get a thick report detailing all of the information the task force heard and collected.

WBAL Radio’s Steve Fernier has an audio report on the task force’s decision.

FREDERICK COUNTY SCHOOL TAXES? Frederick County leaders are considering sending a bill to Annapolis that would give the county schools more responsibility in raising their own revenue, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers.

FORMER STATE’S ATTORNEY ARRESTED: Davis Ruark, a former Wicomico County State’s Attorney, was arrested for violating a peace order by sending e-mails and text messages to a woman he had a dating relationship with, reports Sharahn Boykin of the Salisbury Daily Times.

NEW ANNE ARUNDEL PANEL: The Anne Arundel County School Board approved a revamped 29-member Citizen Advisory Committee, reports The Sun’s Joe Burris.

JUDGE KRATOVIL? The Post’s Ben Pershing reports that one-term Congressman Frank Kratovil has applied for a judicial vacancy in Queen Anne’s County. The Daily Record’s Steve Lash writes that one of Kratovil’s rivals for the District Court seat is David “Chip” Gregory, who ran against Kratovil for Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney in 2002.

HOWARD REDISTRICTING: Howard County’s Councilmanic Redistricting Commission has submitted maps making changes to all of the county’s districts, reports Lindsey McPherson of the Columbia Flier.

HARFORD REDISTRICTING: Harford County Council members will hear from the public on the proposed council redistricting next week, though they said many seem to be happy with the potential new lines, reports Bryna Zumer of The Aegis.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on the Occupy Baltimore protest;  Michael Moore; bottled water; an injured John Willis; and the MoCo Council.