December 28, 2011

State Roundup, December 28, 2011

Print More

SUPREME CHALLENGE: Representatives of the Fannie Lou Hamer Foundation Political Action Committee said yesterday they hope to challenge the state’s new congressional districts in the U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Kelly reports for the Annapolis Capital. A three-judge panel on Friday upheld the maps despite saying that some of the districts outlined by the new plan resembled a “Rorschach-like eyesore.”

STATE AUDITS SPEAK: The editorial board of the Annapolis Capital recounts the many state audits released in December and whether the O’Malley administration is ending waste, fraud and abuse.

HEALTH REFORM: The O’Malley administration will introduce legislation in the coming General Assembly that would create exchanges where people will buy affordable insurance under health care reform, writes Andrea Walker for the Sun. The group that was convened to plan and implement the exchanges released recommendations yesterday for how they would work.

VIDEO GAME ROOMS: A Maryland legislator said he plans to introduce a bill in the General Assembly that would outlaw video game rooms that offer cash prizes for playing a “sweepstakes,”saying such operations could effectively put “slots on every corner,” Arthur Hirsch writes for the Sun.

ONLINE LOTTERY: Mike Hellgren of WJZ-TV reports on the possibility of online lottery ticket sales coming to Maryland. Conservative projections have it adding hundreds of millions of dollars to Maryland’s budget, but it still would need the approval of the General Assembly, which has already signaled interest.

ASSESSMENT APPEALS: The turbulent real estate market has helped drive a huge backlog of cases before the local boards that hear property tax assessment appeals, reports the Sun’s Alison Knezevich. Though officials say they are hearing more cases than ever, the waits can stretch into months for some homeowners.

BULLYING: In an op-ed for the Sun, Ellen Callegary writes about bullying in Maryland public schools and the high cost it can have on a student’s ability to learn.

BETTER DEATH: Sun business columnist Jay Hancock writes about the new book by Del. Dan Morhaim, the state legislature’s only physician, “The Better End,” about surviving and dying on your own terms in today’s modern medical world.

CAMPAIGNING LAWMAKERS: When the Maryland General Assembly convenes early next year, writes Sarah Breitenbach of the Gazette, a handful of members will be campaigning while also legislating, a dynamic some say could hinder their work as lawmakers.

BARTLETT CAMPAIGN: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has ramped up his campaigning after months of lackluster fundraising gave rise to speculation he would bow out from his race for re-election. Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports that Bartlett says he has recently raised $150,000 in pledged donations to his campaign.

TRAFFIC CAMERAS: Cameras that take pictures of motorists running red lights and speeding – currently located in 41 communities statewide – can be bad deals for the cities that install them, according to a report from PIRG, reports Megan Poinski in MarylandReporter.com.

In the 14 years since the Maryland legislature approved red light cameras, about 200 of the ticket-issuing machines have been installed in the state, according to a database compiled by AAA Mid-Atlantic, writes Jessica Talson in Capital News Service.

FORMER JUDGE DIES: The Sun’s Jacques Kelly writes that George Bacon Rasin, a former Kent County Circuit Court judge who led a movement to modernize juvenile justice in Maryland, died Friday at the Edenwald Retirement Community in Towson. He was 94.

ETHICS LITE IN BA CO: The editorial board for the Sun says that the Baltimore County Council should be forced to explain why it shouldn’t be held to more than the minimum standards of conduct following its vote to adopt some ethics standards but not others.

YOUNG CRITICIZED: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young’s recent comment that indicates he will remake the planning commission is a worryingly arrogant demonstration, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post. His attitude to this board of volunteers carries consequences far beyond the minor annoyances of their recent activism.

DISTRICT JUDGE CANDIDATES: The four applicants seeking appointment as the next District Court Judge in Queen Anne’s County bring to the table a wealth of legal experience in the region, and include former U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, reports Jack Shaum for the Easton Star Democrat.