January 25, 2012

State Roundup, January 25, 2012

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GOD & GAY MARRIAGE: It is highly unlikely that there will be a gay wedding at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But its pastor, the Rev. Delman Coates, went to Annapolis yesterday to support Gov. Martin O’Malley’s same-sex marriage bill, Annie Linskey of the Sun reports.

Capital News Services’ Tom McParland, writing in MarylandReporter.com, says supporters of same-sex marriage see more explicit language regarding religious exemptions as a key part of their 2012 campaign to win passage and survive a likely referendum in the fall.

Just hours after promoting his new same-sex marriage bill, Gov. O’Malley sent an e-mail to his campaign supporters seeking donations for a group lobbying for the bill’s passage, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

Wagner also writes that the Maryland Catholic Conference called a new same-sex marriage bill a distraction from more important issues and dismissed language in the legislation that seeks to clarify religious exemptions as “ambiguous.”

And state Del. Tony McConkey objected, saying “Once it is passed, any dissent will be considered hate speech. There needs to be (safeguards ) for voices of conscience,” Earl Kelly reports for the Annapolis Capital.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports on the presser.

JOB GROWTH: The Sun’s Jamie Smith Hopkins reports that Maryland employers added nearly 25,000 jobs last year, according to new estimates — the best performance since 2006, but one that still leaves the state with more than 80,000 jobs to make up, given the recession’s losses.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: University of Maryland business professors are expecting little improvement to the overall economy in 2012, Ryan Sharrow reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

BIG GOV’T & JOBS: It’s time for elected officials and for O’Malley to stop pretending that bigger government will put people back to work and solve the state’s fiscal problems, opines Marta Mossburg in the Frederick News Post. She writes that the only group that has not been shouldering its “fair share” is government.

OUSTING JONES: In light of the ouster of Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones following his conviction for not paying his taxes, Annapolis Capital columnist Eric Hartley takes a look at how the council removed Jones without benefit of a provision in the County Charter allowing it.

TECH PUSH: The O’Malley’s administration is pushing for creation of a statewide program that would bring together public and private universities, federal research labs and its quasi-public technology agency to create jobs and companies by catapulting promising discoveries into the business world, Scott Graham reports for the BBJ.

SEPTIC CURBS: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post interviews one farmer who is concerned that the proposed septic system limiting bill will prevent him from building homes for his grandkids on his 100-acre property. She also interviews a number of state legislators.

FLUSH TAX: A number of legislators are concerned that O’Malley’s proposal to raise the flush tax from $2.50 to an average of $5 a month to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay could be too much for constituents to handle, especially in a bad economy, Ellen Stodola of the Capital News Service reports in the Daily Record.

BALCONY CHECKS: The 2008 death of a man in Massachusetts has prompted state Sen. Ronald Young to call for inspections of balconies in Maryland at least once every five years, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

ZERO TOLERANCE: Concerned about the high numbers of student suspensions, state school board members are proposing an overhaul of discipline codes that would move away from zero-tolerance policies, the Sun’s Liz Bowie reports.

TRAVEL PLAZA RECONSTRUCTION: The Maryland Transportation Authority has selected Areas USA Inc. to rebuild and operate the state’s two I-95 travel plazas under a revenue-sharing agreement, Jack Lambert of the BBJ reports.

LEASING VIDEO SLOTS: Flexibility and cost savings are behind the state’s move to start leasing video slots for Maryland’s five casinos, Lottery Director Stephen Martino told the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

BOOZE TAX GOES TO HEALTH: Health advocates say that most of the money raised by a 50% increase in Maryland’s sales tax on alcohol has been allocated for health needs under O’Malley’s budget, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

EHRLICH FOLLOWED RULES: The Post’s John Wagner blogs that a spokesman for former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich says that he followed all requirements in using campaign funds to pay for the criminal defense of a top aide charged with voter suppression.

GOV’T JOBS FOR VETS: Veterans applying for jobs in Baltimore County government will move to the front of the line under a new hiring policy expected to be announced by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Tyler Waldmann and Bryan Sears report for Patch.com.

The Sun’s Mary Gail Hare writes that when the county is selecting from a group of candidates it considers equally qualified for a job, it will select military veterans above other applicants, an action permitted under the county code and in line with state and federal policies, officials said.

PRESSURED RESIGNATIONS: Two members of an Arundel County panel charged with considering sweeping changes to county law and council districts in a once-a-decade review process have resigned under pressure from the county’s Ethics Commission, based on the fact that they are representing people suing the county, Nicole Fuller of the Sun reports.

A POL’S SALARY DONATIONS: Ben Weathers of the Annapolis Capital writes about one Arundel County councilman who made an unusual promise concerning his salary and what he is doing to stick to it.

CARROLL BUDGET: The Carroll County Commissioners must take a close look at the state budget proposal and possible action by the General Assembly as it crafts its own for fiscal 2013, writes Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times.

  • Frank Van

    Flush Tax Increases.  How do we know it is not going into the general fund?
    Just count it going towards other “lofty goals” goals, just like the Transportation Trust Fund and the school improvement bogey. Despite all the tax increases, no real improvement have occured other than the unions and their teachers pockets.
    Good luck Marylanders.  Your politicians are serving themselves well, protecting each other for their cushioned life long jobs, regardless if they steel, cheat or otherwise misdirect funds for their own benefit.