December 2, 2011

State Roundup, December 2, 2011

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Due to the paywall at the Sun and its limit of 15 free stories per month, our roundup will not include Sun stories that contain substantially the same material available in articles from other sites.

OTIS RESIGNS: After media reports that Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s chief of staff Bud Otis was seeking support for a possible 2012 run for his boss’s seat, Bartlett accepted Otis’ resignation, reports The Post’s Ben Pershing.

6TH DISTRICT: MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick blogs about the Republican melee in District 6 — and state Sen. David Brinkley’s new exploratory committee — and what it means for Bartlett’s political future.

The Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers has a full rundown of the new excitement in the Republican side of the race. The Daily Record also carries the AP story about the pressure Republicans are putting on Bartlett to retire, and the Herald-Mail’s Andrew Schotz also writes about the Republican intrigue.

The Gazette has more details on the 6th District race.

The Washington Times’ David Hill reports that Bartlett said he did not ask for Otis’ resignation, but discussed how news reports about his recent activities made it impossible for Otis to effectively serve both Bartlett and his constituents.

ROBOCALL TRIAL: Former governor Bob Ehrlich testified as a character witness in the trial of Paul Schurick, a former aide accused of making campaign robocalls to keep black voters from coming to the polls, according to an AP story in The Daily Record. Ehrlich’s former lieutenant governor Michael Steele and former governor Marvin Mandel also appeared as character witnesses.

WJZ’s Derek Valcourt has video. WBFF’s John Rydell also did a TV story about the day in court.

WBAL’s Robert Lang reports that the judge presiding over the case dismissed one obstruction of justice charge that Schurick faced.

A constitutional lawyer said the question of how much can a campaign lie is at the heart of the robocall trial of Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

BROWN IN GAY MARRIAGE VIDEO: Brown shares his support for same-sex marriage in a new online video, part of an ongoing campaign for a planned administration bill to make the marriages legal, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

REDISTRICTING HEARING SET: A three-judge panel will hear arguments against the new congressional redistricting map on Dec. 20 in Greenbelt, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

EDWARDS ENDORSED: National blog the Daily Kos has endorsed Rep. Donna Edwards for re-election in the 4th Congressional District.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AUDIT: A report on the Maryland Department of the Environment found several issues there, including questionable septic grants, lack of required safety screenings, and undisclosed computer problems, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski.

The Salisbury Daily Times has a story from the Associated Press’ Alex Dominguez calling for a criminal investigation on questionable sewage upgrade contracts worth $1 million that went to two contractors.

The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler also looks at the situation recommended for criminal investigation.

TEXTING CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: New regulations to allow campaign donations by cell phone text, authorized earlier this year by the General Assembly, are winding through state approval and should be in place in early 2012, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

CONAWAY-MEISTER POLICE REPORT: The police report from last month’s altercation between Baltimore Clerk of Courts Frank Conaway Sr. and blogger Adam Meister reports that police saw Conaway display a holstered handgun, but that he was also the victim of an assault, reports The Sun’s Justin Fenton.

ICC AND ROAD MONEY: The cost of the new Intercounty Connector, which is the state’s most expensive road and will be paid for by tolls, needs to be taken into consideration by policymakers who try to raise new transportation revenues next year, a Daily Record staff editorial warns.

Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar writes that politicians can no longer dodge Maryland’s transportation needs.

HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE: Ron Wineholt blogs for the Maryland Chamber Action Network about the potential tentative framework of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

TAX DISTRIBUTION INCREASE: The Maryland Association of Counties writes about the 31% increase in November county income tax distribution over 2010 figures on its Conduit Street blog.

WESTERN MARYLAND LOBBYIST: Allegany County Commissioners voted to contribute $5,000 to pay for a Western Maryland lobbyist for the General Assembly session, reports the Cumberland Times-News’ Matthew Bieniek.

BA CO SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Baltimore County School Board signed a contract with a national search firm for their help in replacing 12-year Superintendent Joe Hairston, reports The Sun’s Liz Bowie.

PERRYVILLE CASINO PROCEEDS: Members of the Cecil County Video Lottery Terminal Local Development Council talked about grant funding with slots profits at the meeting marking a year of existence, reported the Cecil Whig’s Cheryl Mattix.

JOHNSON DIES: Former Annapolis mayor and city alderman Dean Johnson died on Wednesday from lymphoma-related complications at age 68. The Capital’s Elisha Sauers writes about his legacy.

DISABILITIES AID: Steve Kelly at the Gazette reports that 54 members of the House of Delegates have asked Gov. Martin O’Malley to restore the $25 million that went unspent by the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

SESSION PREVIEW: Economic growth and job creation will be the focus of the upcoming General Assembly session, Sarah Breitenbach writes in the Gazette.

STATE GOP: The Maryland Republican Party has a new executive director, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Mac Middleton’s Christmas trees;  new fertilizer rules; Van Hollen’s Dutch lunch; Busch’s new aide; and bullying promo.