November 7, 2011

State Roundup, November 7, 2011

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ONLINE SALES TAX: A report from the state comptroller’s office says Maryland lost nearly $200 million in taxes on online and other remote sales last year, but will be powerless to collect all but a small fraction of that potential revenue on its own, Nick Sohr reports for the Daily Record.

Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com that Comptroller Peter Franchot, writing to Gov. Martin O’Malley, said, “In the absence of federal legislation … the amount of revenue that would be accessible to the State is modest, if not minimal.”

MILLER ON PLANMARYLAND: Maryland Senate President Miller is asking the O’Malley administration to delay implementing PlanMaryland – its statewide initiative on land development – until the start of the 2012 General Assembly so his chamber can review the plan, David Hill reports for the Washington Times.

OYSTER DIE-OFF: Ever since commercial oystering seasons opened on Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, reports have been pouring in that most of the oyster bars north of the Bay Bridge are covered in dead oysters, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.

The die-off has prompted the last remaining captain of a skipjack on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake to call it quits and put the boat up for sale, Wood reports. Instead of harvesting an expected 120 bushels last week, only 10 were alive, the captain said. Of the remaining five skipjacks, two captains work out of Tilghman Island and three on Deal Island on the Eastern Shore.

WBAL-AM’s Anne Kramer says some are blaming heavy rains this fall from Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene.

BUSINESS FRIENDLY: Maryland Juice reports that study after study indicates that the claims from business people that Maryland is tax-heavy and unfriendly to business are full of holes.

CONSTELLATION MERGER: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital writes that in the merger proposal of Exelon and Constellation Energy, a proposal by two state legislators to “bring back ‘your father’s BGE’: lower rates and more reliable service” is a good jumping off point to remind the Public Service Commission that its obligation isn’t with company stockholders, it is with the public.

O’M DEFENDS OBAMA: O’Malley defended President Obama’s efforts to promote a jobs plan yesterday morning on CNN’s State of the Union, his latest Sunday morning talk show appearance, Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun.

John Wagner of the Post says that, during the same show, O’Malley sidestepped any talk about his political intentions.

SUPERCOMMITTEEMAN: John Fritze of the Sun reports on U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen and his attempts to broker a federal budget deal as a member of the supercommittee.

HARRIS JUNKETS: Nicole Gaudiano and Fredreka Schouten of Gannett write in the Salisbury Daily Times write that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris and his wife have taken advantage of privately funded junkets.

CARDIN KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin kicked off his re-election campaign yesterday, promising several hundred supporters that he’d fight for better schools, more jobs, a cleaner environment and access to health care, John-John Williams and John Fritze, write for the Sun.

DCCC TARGETS BARTLETT: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, is targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the first political advertisement of the 2012 race to hit the airwaves in the newly drawn 6th District, blogs the Sun’s John Fritze.

GARAGIOLA SPEED BUMP: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post writes that state Sen. Rob Garagiola has already hit a speed bump in his race for the Democratic nomination for Barlett’s seat: In the session earlier this year, Garagiola was the key sponsor of legislation to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 10 cents per gallon.

O’MALLEY’S VICTORIES: Whatever else one might think of O’Malley’s outspoken year as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, this much almost certainly will be true after tomorrow: The election losses of Democratic governors have stopped, John Wagner reports for the Post.

TAKE ON LIQUOR LOBBY: The editorial board of the Sun is urging Baltimore County Exec Kevin Kamenetz to push through reforms to the county’s arcane liquor licensing laws that tend to enrich a few and at the same time begin to break the hold that the liquor lobby has on state regulations.

CUTS PROTESTED: A foursome on the Square Corner in Frederick trying to drum up support for marriage equality on Saturday were quickly dwarfed by about 60 people protesting decisions by the Frederick County Commissioners to cut funding for various programs, Ed Waters Jr. reports for the Frederick News-Post.

Some protesters wore black as a sign of mourning for the cuts. Others carried posters that read, “Don’t dismantle Frederick County!” and implored officials to preserve the quality of life in Frederick County, writes Margarita Raycheva, of the Gazette.

3rd PARTIES PUSH FOR POLLS: Members of the Republican, Green and Libertarian parties are often divided by strong ideological differences in national politics. But in Baltimore, their candidates emphatically agree on at least one thing: They’re fed up with the Democratic dominance of city politics, write Julie Scharper and Nicole Fuller for the Sun.

FARM PRESERVATION IN CARROLL: In profiling one New Windsor farmer, Christian Alexandersen writes in the Carroll County Times about Carroll County programs that help preserve farmlands and growing the farming community.

Should the Carroll County Agricultural Land Preservation Program change how it purchases and conserves land or should it remain the same? Alexandersen writes that a 10-person task force has been created to answer that question. Meanwhile, farmland preservation experts question whether one of the best programs in the country needs to be changed.

FOUNTAIN OF HOPE: Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso is planning on building water fountains for stagnant county waterways, following experiments that he says prove to help reduce pollution and help turtles and fish, writes Nicole Fuller of the Sun.