November 10, 2011

State Roundup, November 10, 2011

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REDISTRICTING SUIT: MarylandReporter.com’s Glynis Kazanjian writes that nine Marylanders will file a joint lawsuit in federal court today charging the state with numerous civil rights violations that occurred as a result of last month’s congressional redistricting, according to a spokesman for the Fannie Lou Hamer-PAC – an African American voting rights group.

The Annapolis Capital editorial board opines that now that Maryland’s ridiculous and nakedly political congressional redistricting plan has been signed into law, the only hope of defeating it — probably a thin one — lies in the courts.

CURRIE CENSURE SOUGHT: Citing state Sen. Ulysses Currie’s failure to disclose his employment by Shoppers Food Warehouse, Common Cause, a leading government watchdog organization, has called on the Maryland Senate to censure the once-powerful budget committee chairman who was acquitted of political corruption charges this week, write The Sun’s Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey,

Senate President Mike Miller said that Currie, the former Senate budget chairman, would face ethics proceedings in the legislature. Possible penalties include expulsion and censure, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

JUROR RECOUNTS DELIBERATIONS: Not all 12 jurors were ready to acquit Sen. Currie on bribery and other charges when deliberations began, and at times things got pretty heated. But in the end, the group agreed that prosecutors had fallen short of proving a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, John Wagner of the Post writes following an interview with one juror.

BISHOPS OPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE: With legislation to legalize same-sex marriage expected in the General Assembly, Maryland’s Roman Catholic bishops are calling on parishioners to act against the proposal and other measures that they say threaten “religious liberty,” Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

WAIT FOR GAY MARRIAGE? Peering at what has happened to Maryland’s Dream Act, Sun columnist Dan Rodricks is suggesting that same-sex marriage advocates might want to wait a year to push the effort since they could win in the General Assembly in 2012 but lose in the polls, should opponents petition it to referendum. That would put it right in the cross-hairs next to the Dream Act on the ballot.

DOCS SEEK EAR: Maryland’s medical society is asking state lawmakers to include more doctors in policy initiatives to cut health care costs and promote electronic health records, Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

RAW MILK: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post opines that Maryland’s raw milk advocates need to go to Annapolis to push their case, not to Washington.

LOH A GO ON MERGER: University of Maryland College Park President Wallace Loh publicly pledged his support for the merger between this institution and the University of Maryland Baltimore for the first time, reports Yasmeen Abutaleb for the Diamondback.

GAS TAX HIKE: Maryland’s lieutenant governor drew a chilly response yesterday when he pitched the idea of raising the state gas tax to a Frederick County crowd, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News-Post.

VET SERVICES FUND: Maryland will receive $2 million from the federal government to improve the delivery of transportation services to veterans and their families, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

NEEDED MONEY UNSPENT: The Developmental Disabilities Administration, with thousands on its waiting list for care, left $25 million in state funding unspent over the last two years, and wound up having to return the money to the state’s general fund. The agency also had a surplus in its federal Medicaid match, for a total of $38 million left unspent, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

OYSTER DIE-OFF: State biologists said a major oyster die-off in the Chesapeake Bay was likely caused by record fresh water during spring and summer storms — not by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as some had believed, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.

BWI MAKEOVER: The Sun’s Michael Dresser reports that Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will be going through extensive changes over the next two years as officials launch a $100 million renovation project that will transform the central section of the airport — including parts that date to its opening in 1950.

O’MALLEY TOUTS RESULTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley touted the good news for Democrats nationally in Tuesday’s elections during a pair of television appearances, blogs the Post’s John Wagner. O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, pointed to the re-election of Kentucky’s Democratic governor and the rejection of a ballot measure limiting collective bargaining that was championed by Ohio’s Republican governor.

SLOTS IN PG: The Gazette’s Lindsey Robbins reports that the owner of Rosecroft Raceway is predicting that if slot machines were allowed at his facility it would create 6,000 jobs, have a $2.3 billion in economic impact and garner almost $300 million in total wages. But many in Prince George’s County’s business community are unwilling to bet on it, and proposed legislation to ban slots is polarizing business execs in the county.

ONLINE HOTEL TAX: The Anne Arundel County Council approved a bill that will increase the tax on online hotel retailers and possibly generate $500,000 annually for the county, Jack Lambert reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

EXECUTIVE GOV’T: The committee formed to review the governing laws of Wicomico County has voted to keep the county executive form of government in place, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

ASSOCIATION BILL PULLED: The Columbia Association has withdrawn its request to the Howard County delegation to sponsor legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session that would change how CA is defined under state law. The proposal was aimed at saving CA money on lobbying fees, writes Lindsey McPherson of the Howard County Times.