October 12, 2011

State Roundup, October 12, 2011

Print More

DEMS OPPOSE NEW MAP: A chorus of Democratic officials concerned about minority voters in the Washington suburbs are opposing the new congressional districts proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting commission, setting up a key battle as the General Assembly prepares to take up the issue, John Fritze and Annie Linskey report for the Sun. Glynis Kazanjian covers the story for MarylandReporter.com.

Nine Montgomery County lawmakers are calling on the governor to reject the draft plan to redraw the state’s electoral districts, saying that it will hurt minority candidates’ chances of being elected and suppress involvement by black, Asian and Hispanic voters, writes the Gazette’s Erin Cunningham.

Breaking her silence on Maryland’s proposed redistricting plan, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards said yesterday she will not support the current proposal because it dilutes minority voting power in Montgomery County, Andy Rosen blogs in the Sun.

And residents of Western Maryland say they would sooner annex their congressional district to West Virginia than share it with liberal Montgomery County, reports Hayley Peterson for the Washington Examiner.

Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that it was no accident that the first group to propose a congressional redistricting plan that included three majority minority districts in Maryland was not the minorities now protesting the maps recommended to the governor by his advisory committee. It was the Maryland Republican Party.

Political consultant Hassan Giordano, RedMaryland blogger Brian Griffiths, professor Michael McDonald and Del. Aisha Braveboy joined Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM yesterday to discuss redistricting proposals in Maryland..

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: The Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding is leaning toward boosting the state’s gas tax and raising vehicle registration fees as it narrows down a list of recommendations for raising about $800 million a year in new money for transportation, the AP’s Brian Witte reports in the Sun.

At MarylandReporter.com, Megan Poinski writes that the commission wants firm assurances that any new revenues will only be spent on transportation.

The panel will vote later this month on a package of recommendations that tentatively includes increasing the state’s 23.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax by 5 cents a year over the next three years before tying increases to the rate of inflation, Sarah Breitenbach reports for the Gazette.

Earl Kelly of the Annapolis Capital writes that a survey conducted by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association and the Maryland Motor Truck Association finds that voters oppose increasing the state gasoline tax, even if the money is for transportation projects.

In an op-ed in the Sun, Wendell Cox writes that the Maryland transportation fund must be used only for its intended purpose, and should prioritize projects that benefit the most people.

CIGGY TAX: The Post’s Aaron Davis blogs about Vincent DeMarco’s current push to add a dollar to the cigarette tax in an effort to put an end to smoking.

More than 150 faith, community and health organizations have already endorsed the proposed tax, including the AARP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Maryland, the state’s medical society and the American Cancer Society, Jessica Talson of the Capital News Service writes in the Daily Record.

Eric Hartley of the Annapolis Capital speculates that if Maryland can pass another cigarette tax, it may be possible to pass a “fat tax.” He talks to uber health lobbyist Vincent DeMarco to find out how to push the initiative.

WIND POWER: Gov. O’Malley vowed yesterday to renew his stymied push for building wind turbines off Maryland’s Atlantic Coast but said he’s not sure yet what type of government incentive he’ll ask lawmakers to approve for the industry next year, writes Tim Wheeler for the Sun.

Mark Newgent of Red Maryland says the Gonzales poll showing support for wind power left out its true costs to consumers.

CONVENTION CENTER: The Greater Baltimore Committee plans to ask Gov. O’Malley to include $2 million to $3 million in next year’s capital budget for preliminary planning and design of an expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center, GBC President Donald Fry said Monday. This is part of a proposal to build a new arena and hotel next to the site, writes Lorraine Mirabella, for the Sun.

But the editorial board of the Sun writes that adding meeting space and a privately financed hotel and arena sounds good, but the city and state should proceed with caution.

BGE HEARING: Steve Kilar of the Sun reports that a crowd of more than 100 people, mostly seniors, gathered last night to voice their concerns to the state’s energy regulator about Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.’s performance following Hurricane Irene.

JOBS BILL PASSAGE URGED: Gov. Martin O’Malley and 15 other Democratic governors sent a letter to Congress yesterday urging passage of President Barack Obama’s jobs legislation, Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun. Senate leaders want to bring the bill the floor today.

PETA PROTEST AT APG: Marissa Gallo of the Aegis reports that Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is tentatively planning a protest around Aberdeen Proving Ground Friday and Saturday as part of a campaign to end Army training that involves monkeys.

RISK ASSESSMENT: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that a planned biodefense animal laboratory scheduled for the Fort Detrick campus should not move forward until concerns by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski about a flawed risk assessment are addressed.

PATRIOT ACT: Maryland Juice is urging U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin to take a close look at the abuses of the Patriot Act and work to end its use.

PG PANEL OKS ANTI-SLOTS BILL: Miranda Spivack of the Post writes that a bill that would ban slots in Prince George’s survived a key vote yesterday when a County Council committee approved the measure — a gaming proposal that has renewed a long-standing dispute over what types of businesses the county should attract.

FREDERICK BUSINESS: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post reports that Frederick County Commissioners are pushing through a long list of items to make the county more friendly to all businesses.

LAYOFFS STILL POSSIBLE: Even as the Baltimore County Council weighs an employee buyout plan that could chop millions from next year’s budget, officials are leaving open the possibility of layoffs and furloughs, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.

LOW AMONG THE LARGE: The Sun’s Liz Bowie writes that Baltimore County’s average teacher salary is the lowest among large school systems in Maryland, but its two top officials are some of the highest-paid, according to data collected by the state

QUARRY ALLOWED: The Washington County Board of Commissioners reached a consensus yesterday to approve a zoning measure that would allow mining on 120 acres north of Hagerstown owned by a cement company, Heather Keels reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

COUNCILMAN DIES: Wicomico County Council member Bob Caldwell, known for his long history of public service and “Superman” personality, died yesterday morning due to complications associated with cancer, Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports.