State Roundup, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011 at 7:58 am

ACTION ON NEW MAP: A day after Maryland’s Democratic led Senate offered initial approval of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting plan, the body is set to reconvene at 10 a.m. and appears on the verge of passing the measure with little difficulty, Annie Linskey blogs in the Sun.

The highly partisan and racially charged plan advanced in the state Senate late yesterday, despite protests from good government groups and an eleventh-hour attempt to derail it by one of the state’s two African American members of Congress, the Post’s Aaron Davis reports.

Gov. O’Malley’s political redistricting plan earned a quick first stamp of approval from the Maryland Senate last night despite a day full of objections from top Republicans — and a sitting Democratic congresswoman — who slammed the map as partisan gerrymandering that dilutes minority voices, reports Annie Linskey and John Fritze for the Sun.

Daniel Divilio of the Easton Star Democrat writes that the new map will likely be adopted in just a couple of days.

The state Senate is set to vote today to approve O’Malley’s congressional redistricting plan after rejecting a Republican alternative last night, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post writes that the redistricting plan will split Frederick County between two congressional representatives. A move that would have kept the county intact failed yesterday.

Maryland’s congressional redistricting process this year has shown it’s getting harder for Democrats to make gains against Republicans in the state’s eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, writes the AP’s Brian Witte in the Annapolis Capital.

Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times News writes about how Western Maryland is faring under the proposed map.

MarylandReporter.com liveblogged Monday’s joint hearing on redistricting, and that transcript can be found here.

MINORITIES DIVIDED: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett testified in Annapolis in support of the governor’s proposed redistricting plan that will put most of Laurel in the U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards’ 4th District, Gwendolyn Glenn reports for the Laurel Leader.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin and Montgomery County Councilwoman Nancy Navarro criticized it, Rachael Baye reports for the Washington Examiner.

BIZ REG REVIEW: Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that O’Malley will issue an executive order calling for review of all state business regulations as part of an effort to lay the groundwork for a 2012 jobs legislation package.

And the Sun’s Jay Hancock says that the O’Malley administration has cleaned up some of the tangles that delay development projects, but that some remain.

JOBS EFFORT: Lawmakers will have hearings today focused on infrastructure and transportation needs, as well as economic development and job creation, Sarah Breitenbach reports for the Gazette.

Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com blogs that O’Malley said he would support higher taxes for transportation to spend on infrastructure projects and create construction jobs.

O’Malley used the start of the legislature’s special session on redistricting yesterday to begin talking about jobs, and offered more clarity about suggestions he’s made since August that he would support higher taxes to boost spending on public infrastructure, blogs Aaron Davis for the Post.

He also signaled yesterday that he might support an increase in Maryland’s gasoline tax as part of a broader effort to create jobs through a massive construction program focused on transportation and schools, Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey report for the Sun.

NO TO JUDICIAL RAISES: The Judicial Compensation Commission has undoubtedly determined that judges could earn more money in private law practice, so keeping them behind the bench requires better compensation. But the same can be said for all state employees, writes the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital.

BAY CLEANUP: The road to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay is going to be long, difficult and expensive, according to experts at a forum designed to demystify the latest attempt to rescue the bay’s health: a federal program called the “total maximum daily load” or TMDL, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.

USDOT GRANT TO MTA: The Maryland Transit Administration will receive $8.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, most of which will be used to replace older buses with new hybrid-engine vehicles, blogs Michael Dresser in the Sun.

CURRIE DEFENSE: Attorneys for state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie, on trial for extortion and related charges, began his defense yesterday by calling a witness who portrayed the Prince George’s County legislator as endlessly pleasant, but not very bright, Tricia Bishop reports for the Sun.

Tim Maloney, a lawyer and former state delegate, told the court, “No one would call him (Currie) smart,” John Wagner blogs in the post.

COUNCIL VOTE IN PG: Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that Prince George’s voters will head to the polls today to pick a successor to former County Council member Leslie Johnson, who resigned in July after pleading guilty to destroying evidence in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe. Turnout is expected to be light.

AA ARBITRATION SYSTEM: The Sun’s Nicole Fuller reports that an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge has dealt a serious blow to the county’s use of binding arbitration to solve collective bargaining disputes with employees, ruling that the entire system is unconstitutional.

MOCO WEB CENSOR: Maryland Juice is reporting that Montgomery County has revealed that it spends $67,408 ever year to restrict the Internet usage of its employees, which includes blocking a Maryland Juice link to environmental site FUH2.com, a seniors community website, transgendered news articles and pro-LGBT political groups, all labeled as pornography.

RON SMITH HAS CANCER: Longtime conservative WBAL talk-show host Ron Smith announced yesterday on-air that he has pancreatic cancer. Smith, 69, who has been at the radio station since 1984, said he plans to stay on at WBAL AM as he seeks treatment, David Zurawik reports for the Sun.

You can listen and view “The Voice of Reason” explaining his situation.

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