December 9, 2011

State Roundup, December 9, 2011

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O’MALLEY’S FUTURE: After being elected chairman of the Democratic Governors Association the second year in a row, Gov. Martin O’Malley starts charting the course that may lead to his political life after Annapolis, writes The Washington Post’s Aaron Davis.

DREAM ACT CASE: CASA de Maryland and other plaintiffs challenging the referendum bringing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants to the ballot have stopped challenging the number of signatures referendum-signers got on their petitions, reports Earl Kelly of The Capital.

Plaintiffs told Andrew Schotz of the Herald-Mail that this change has nothing to do with the strength of their case. However, if the signatures from online petitions that they were challenging are thrown out, the law’s opponents still have enough signatures to bring it to the ballot.

The case now focuses on the argument that the bill bringing in-state tuition to some illegal immigrants is an appropriations issue not subject to referendum, writes MarylandReporter.com’s Glynis Kazanjian.

WBAL’s Robert Lang has audio explaining why the plaintiffs made such a move, and getting reactions from opponents to the law.

CONSTELLATION/EXELON MERGER: The Greater Baltimore Committee, the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce, and the Annapolis and Anne Arundel chambers of commerce are all endorsing the merger of power companies Constellation and Exelon, and have written letters to the Maryland Public Services Commission to accept it, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance.

PEPCO NOT PAYING: Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that Pepco is on top of the list of businesses that paid little to no state income taxes.

EXPEL CURRIE: State Sen. Ulysses Currie may have been acquitted of corruption charges for his double dealings with Shoppers Food Warehouse, but the Legislative Ethics Committee still has to deal with his case. The Daily Record’s opinionators say that the Senate should send a strong message and expel Currie.

FIGHTING WORKERS COMP FREEZE: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin sent out a letter to Democratic Senate leaders asking them to fight against any proposal in Congress that shrinks or freezes workers compensation for federal employees, reports The Sun’s John Fritze. Sen. Barbara Mikulski also signed the letter.

UMD MERGER: The Board of Regents will vote today on whether to merge the University of Maryland’s College Park and Baltimore campuses, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

PLANMARYLAND: WYPR’s Joel McCord takes a look at the controversy surrounding PlanMaryland in a two-part series. Part 1 is here.

SMOKING RATES: The American Lung Association says that Maryland is the nation’s third worst state when it comes to smoking cessation efforts, even though the state has one of the lowest rates of smoking in the country, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.

GAY MARRIAGE: WBFF’S Jeff Abell previews the next round of the gay marriage fight with video.

ELECTION WEBSITE: The Pew Center on the States ranked Maryland’s election information website as the nation’s second best for providing easy-to-find, useful information, reports Megan Poinski from MarylandReporter.com.

ARMY-NAVY GAME: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be joining thousands of spectators to see the Army-Navy football game at FedEx Field this weekend, reports The Sun’s John Fritze.

WAR ON RURAL MARYLAND: State Sen. E.J. Pipkin fires back at Planning Secretary Richard Hall in a letter to the editor of the Salisbury Daily Times. Pipkin contends that rural Maryland has been footing the bill for other bad planning decisions made statewide.

CORRECTIONS REORGANIZATION: A major reorganization of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will have an impact on local jails and law enforcement, according to a post on Conduit Street.

STATE HEALTH: Maryland ranks #21 in overall health in the state, according to a new study reported on by the Baltimore Business Journal.

KAMENETZ’S FIRST YEAR: The Sun’s Alison Knezevich reflects Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s first year in office.

COUNCIL LOOPHOLE: While Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones tries to decide if he wants to resign before serving a five-month federal prison sentence, County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson wrote that other council members can just move to replace him, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller. While in prison, Hodgson wrote, Jones will no longer live in his district.

RURAL LOBBYISTS: Rural counties banding together are spending a total of $17,500 on two lobbyists – Bruce Bereano and William Miles – for the upcoming legislative session, reports the Frederick News-Post.

AUDIT PROBLEMS: The number of problems found by audits of the state bureaucracy has continued to mount in recent months, Steve Kelly reports in the Gazette. Legislators are looking at how to improve internal oversight.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: A new legislative committee will likely propose putting ethics disclosure statements online, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

SCHURICK CASE: The conviction of Paul Schurick in the robocall case should provide a warning to Republican candidates, former Democratic Party officials say, according to Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette.

Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar says Schurick’s conviction was a blow to free speech.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on the Social Security death file; Bob Ehrlich; GOP headquarters move; Jack Johnson’s car; and gay marriage ads.

FREDERICK DELEGATION: Some Frederick County Republican legislators are unhappy with the leadership make-up of their General Assembly delegation, Katherine Heerbrandt reports in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY: Gazette columnist Blair Lee says Gov. Martin O’Malley has been missing in action while many problems mount.