January 3, 2012

State Roundup, January 3, 2012

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DHCD DEVELOPER: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that a developer who stands to gain millions by building headquarters for the state Department of Housing and Community Development in Prince George’s County owes Maryland more than $124,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest.

2012 EXCITEMENT: The editorial board of the Sun is looking forward to an exciting new year in Maryland politics with gay marriage legislation, an immigrant tuition referendum, taxes and congressional races all on the horizon.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Maryland Reporter editor Len Lazarick and Lindsey McPherson of Patuxent Publishing join hosts Dennis Lane and Paul Skalny for a review of the political news, largely focused on Howard County, in a 45-minute podcast on HoCoMoJo blog taped Friday at the Columbia Mall.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: After nine months of plotting and organizing, the two sides of Maryland’s same-sex marriage debate are ready to campaign with full force during the General Assembly session, which begins next week, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

PROTECTING HISTORY: Ed Gunts of the Sun writes that the Maryland State Archives has stepped in to help Baltimore City protect its valuable treasure trove of documents even as it gets ready to improve its operations in Annapolis and seek $40 million from the General Assembly for more storage.

PG SLOTS IMPERILED: The plan to bring slots to Prince George’s County faces several obstacles, including division among local lawmakers and resistance from Maryland jurisdictions that already have casinos, reports John Wagner for the Washington Post.

PETITION SPARKS BILLS: Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com writes that last year’s drive to bring the illegal immigrant in-state tuition law to referendum has sparked a number of bills to smooth the process.

Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, wants petitions for referendum in Maryland to be granted the same secrecy as an individual person’s vote, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

LOWER SHORE INTERESTS: Jennifer Shutt and Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times report that for Lower Shore residents, bills in the General Assembly that will make a difference to them include proposals to keep police officers on the street, entice micro-distilleries to the Eastern Shore, research offshore wind farm construction and study seasonal impacts of the Ocean Downs Casino.

BAY RESTORATION: The Sun editorial board opines that local government leaders may bemoan its costs and red tape, but bay restoration requires more than a business-as-usual approach to pollution.

GAS TAX: Gov. Martin O’Malley addressed a proposed gas tax increase during a round table discussion with reporters last Thursday, including Nick DiMarco for Patch.com. You can also view the video here.

MANURE REGS: Writing for the Easton Star Democrat, Kelley Allen reports that while environmentalists and scientists have pushed for tighter controls on manure application, the state’s largest farm organization opposes the move.

BGE WORRIES: The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel says merger between Constellation Energy Group and Exelon would lead to a consolidation of customer services that could cause the utility to become less responsive to the concerns of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. ratepayers, Hanah Cho reports for the Sun.

SHATTUCK SELLS STOCK: Constellation Energy Group Inc. CEO Mayo Shattuck sold nearly 60,000 shares of company stock worth $2.3 million Dec. 27, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, reports Scott Dance for the Baltimore Business Journal.

FRACKED: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post writes that fracking has already taken a toll on some residents: those who sold the mineral rights to drilling companies, some with automatically renewable leases for as little as $5 an acre.

ROCKIN’ THE FUTURE: Maryland Gov. O’Malley closed out the old year filled with speculation about his political future by channeling his past on Thursday and rocked in the New Year with his band, O’Malley’s March, playing at Ram’s Head in Annapolis, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

TEACHERS TOP LIST: Maryland’s powerful teachers union topped the list of special interests paying to influence the General Assembly last session, spending $1,034,000 on lobbying lawmakers, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

ALLAN KITTLEMAN: The liberal blog Maryland Juice (David Moon) selected Republican Sen. Allan Kittleman as Marylander of the Year because of his stand supporting gay marriage, which caused him to resign as minority leader.

HOME VALUES DROP: Home values in Maryland communities reassessed by the state this year have fallen an average of 17% since 2008, a sizable drop, but smaller than in the last two rounds of property evaluations, Jamie Smith Hopkins reports for the Sun.

LIGHT BULBS: The first wave of national legislation aimed at decreasing America’s energy consumption by making light bulbs more efficient was delayed until fall, but consumers will still have a wide variety of bulb options when it does go into effect, Carrie Ann Knauer reports for the Carroll County Times.

CONGRESSIONAL WEALTH GAP: The growing gap in wealth between members of Congress and their constituents means that it is unlikely that middle-class Americans are well-represented by those who serve, writes the editorial board of the Annapolis Capital.

FEDERAL INACTION: With partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, states will again be grappling with a series of issues deeply affected by federal inaction, such as transportation spending and immigration reform, according to an article in Governing magazine.

As silly as this sounds, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post, it might be time for all of us to start rooting for federal lawmakers to do absolutely nothing,

2011 BRIGHT SPOTS: Kevin James Shay and Lindsey Robbins of the Gazette take a look back at 2011 and find that Maryland did experience some bright spots.

SHAPING WICOMICO: The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times is urging Wicomico County residents to begin getting involved to help shape the direction county government needs to take.

HOME IN MOCO: Montgomery County needs more affordable housing. That’s the reality top county officials are facing as they work to spur less costly housing in a county that has seen a rise in its immigrant, working-class and elderly populations, writes Victor Zapana for the Post.

PROSECUTION OVERHAUL: Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein is announcing a new strategy for addressing prosecution: Community prosecution is an umbrella term used to describe a range of programs that connect prosecutors with residents, Tricia Bishop reports for the Sun.