October 28, 2011

State Roundup, October 28, 2011

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CHALLENGING REDISTRICTING: Bruce Cain, the redistricting expert hired by the state to ensure that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting plan was constitutionally sound, called challenges to the now-approved map outrageous, and spelled out why to MarylandReporter.com’s Glynis Kazanjian. Several legal challenges to the map, including one from the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC and one from Washington County resident Howard Gorrell, are on their way.

Gorrell’s major argument is that the new map splits up similar communities, reports The Sun’s John Fritze.

Del. Neil Parrott, who was behind the controversial online petition signatures bringing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants for referendum, told The Sun’s Annie Linskey that he is considering a petition drive opposing the new congressional redistricting map.

FRANCHOT: NO NEW TAXES:  Citing the slow economy and state’s lack of fiscal discipline, Comptroller Peter Franchot called for a two-year freeze on all tax and fee hikes, reports Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal.

PLANMARYLAND DETRACTORS: At a meeting in Annapolis Thursday, rural officials called for a boycott of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s comprehensive growth plan, reports Nicole Fuller of The Sun.

The consensus of the meeting was that rural Maryland should push back, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin told The Washington Times’ David Hill that they will continue the fight as long as necessary.

Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig reports that Pipkin has submitted bills to help fight what he calls the O’Malley administration’s “War on Rural Maryland.”

MARYLAND IS FOR MILLIONAIRES: Maryland has the nation’s highest percentage of residents who are millionaires – about 7.22%, according to a new study by Phoenix Marketing International, according to an AP story in The Sun.

JUDICIAL WATCH JOINS PETITION SUIT: Conservative group Judicial Watch will be helping with the legal defense of MDPetitions.com, the group that collected controversial online signatures to bring in-state tuition for illegal immigrants to referendum, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

OCCUPY IMPACT: Benjamin Ford in the Gazette analyzes the impact of Occupy Baltimore on Maryland politics.

GARAGIOLA CAMPAIGN KICKOFF: State Sen. Robert Garagiola will formally begin his run for Congress on Tuesday with a four-stop “kickoff” across the 6th District, now represented by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, reports John Fritze of The Sun.

David Moon posts the details of the events at Maryland Juice.

BARTLETT CHALLENGE: A number of Republicans are willing to step in and run for Congress if Rep. Roscoe Bartlett decides to retire in the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District, according to the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

SMITH TO CHALLENGE RUPPERSBERGER: Former Capitol Hill staffer Larry Smith, who most recently worked on the staff of Republican Rep. Andy Harris, said he will challenge Democrat Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in 2012, reports The Sun’s John Fritze.

GERRYMANDERING: In a Gazette op-ed, Laslo Boyd weighs in on the new congressional districts and the political process that produced them. The redrawn districts might not be as friendly to incumbents as supposed, writes Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar.

SMIGIEL FOR JUDGE: Del. Michael Smigiel said he will run for judge of the Circuit Court in Cecil County because he wants more conservatives on the bench, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

TAXES: Tax talk is likely to dominate the next session of the legislature, Sarah Breitenbach writes in the Gazette.

TOLLS INCREASE TUESDAY: Tolls for Susquehanna River bridges, as well as several other roads and bridges around the state, will increase on Tuesday, according to a staff report in The Aegis.

The Sun’s Michael Dresser wants to know how increased tolls will affect motorists across the state.

JOBS HELP WANTED: O’Malley has to do a little more than raise the gas tax in the next legislative session to fuel the kind of job creation Maryland needs, opinionators in the Daily Record say.

STATE INFRASTRUCUTRE: One of the proposals from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding is the creation of an infrastructure bank to finance projects, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

GRIPING MADE EASY: The Maryland Made Easy website is accepting suggestions to better streamline regulations – and already has close to 200, blogs The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr.

CURRIE’S WIFE TAKES BLAME: Shirley Gravely-Currie, wife of embattled state Sen. Ulysses Currie, testified at his trial that it was her responsibility to fill out her husband’s financial disclosure forms, and she’s the one who left off his consulting work for Shopper’s Food Warehouse, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

WBFF’s Myranda Stephens has a video report.

HARFORD BONUSES: Harford County has a $32 million surplus, and County Executive David Craig is recommended that it’s used to give all county employees a $1,250 bonus, reports The Sun’s Jessica Anderson.

COUNTY ATTORNEY CONTROVERSY: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is expected to withdraw his unpopular nominee for county attorney, M. Andree Green, today – but leave her in the acting position, and likely bring her forward as a nominee in 2012, reports The Post’s Miranda Spivack.

The Examiner’s Ben Giles details the reasons why the county council has lukewarm feelings toward Green.

EDUCATION FUNDS: Maryland hopes to gain federal funds to undertake 10 early-childhood education projects, including a new rating system for child-care centers, Andrew Ujifusa reports in the Gazette.

NATURAL GAS:  According to a new study, a majority of Marylanders favor the development of natural gas resources in Western Maryland, Will Burns blogs for the Maryland Chamber Action Network.

MORE ICC OPENING: The second section of the Intercounty Connecter, from Georgia Avenue to I-95, is set to open on Nov. 22, reports WTOP’s Adam Tuss.

PURPLE LINE ESTIMATES UP: Costs estimates associated with the Purple Line light rail through suburban DC portions of the state are way up because of challenges rebuilding the Capital Crescent Trail path in downtown Bethesda, reports The Post’s Katherine Shaver.

ROASTING BUSCH: Speaker of the House Mike Busch will be roasted by other politicians and officials next month to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, according to a story in The Capital.

BROCHIN ON LOCH RAVEN: State Sen. Jim Brochin, a constant critic of Baltimore City officials’ decision to close down unofficial mountain biking trails at Loch Raven Reservoir, wrote a critical letter to city officials, demanding they look at their reservoir use policies as well, reports Patuxent Publishing’s Kevin Rector.

LEGISLATIVE WISH LIST: Frederick County Commissioners approved the county’s legislative wish list, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post. Leading the way is allowing the county board of education to control its share of property taxes.

PROTECTING TRANSGENDERED RESIDENTS: Howard County Council Democrats are bringing legislation to make gender identity a protected class, reports Lindsey McPherson of the Howard County Times. This would protect transgendered residents from discrimination in housing or employment.

DYER CASE NOT DISMISSED: An administrative judge ruled against Howard County Board of Education member Allen Dyer’s motion to dismiss the formal complaint filed by his colleagues to remove him from the school board, as well as a motion to intervene from board member Cindy Vaillancourt, reports Sara Toth of Patuxent Publishing.

BALTO CO SMOKING BAN: Baltimore County is now banning smoking in county-owned vehicles, reports The Sun’s Alison Knezevich.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Scott Rolle and Michael Steele; Howard County’s Courtney Watson; and a new gay marriage supporter.