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Published on February 8th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, February 8, 2012

CA, GAY MARRIAGE & MD: Gov. Martin O’Malley said a federal court’s ruling that California’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional could buoy his push to legalize the unions in Maryland, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports.

Gov. O’Malley was addressing a group of students at the University of Baltimore School of Law when news broke of the California ruling, the Post’s John Wagner blogs.

But the editorial board of the Sun says that legally it will have little effect. The court was very specific when it addressed gay marriage and California’s already established laws, which are not in place in Maryland.

SHARPTON CUTS AD: MSNBC commentator and Baptist minister Al Sharpton cut a web video supporting same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland and hosted O’Malley on his cable show last night to talk about the issue.

O’MALLEY MOCKS CHRISTIE: While on the Sharpton show, O’Malley criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, saying he “wants to have his cake and eat it too,” for advocating that voters of his state should decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage, since Christie has vowed to veto same-sex marriage legislation being debated in the New Jersey legislature, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

GAS TAX ATTACKED: Calling any gas tax increase a “crushing blow” to families and a “shot to the gut” of businesses, Comptroller Peter Franchot declared his opposition to Gov. O’Malley’s proposal to start charging the 6% sales tax on gas, Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV attended the forum.

Franchot used a roundtable he staged in Annapolis to showcase the petroleum industry’s objections to any gas tax increase in general and to the sales tax on fuel in particular, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun.

Frederick News-Post columnist Marta Mossburg also attacks the gas tax as detrimental to the poor and a hindrance to the state’s economic recovery.

CAN JUDGE O’MALLEY JUDGE? In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Republican Michael Collins goes after first lady Katie O’Malley for saying that religion should have “no part” in dictating what the laws of the state are, and questions her impartiality as a District Court judge.

JUDGES PAY HIKE: Legislators were told that Maryland judges need a $29,000 pay hike over the next four years, Dan Menefee reports at MarylandReporter.com.

TAX BREAKS: An effort to shed more light on a small slice of the billions of dollars in tax breaks that Maryland doles out every year is back, revived by a pair of Montgomery County lawmakers, Nick Sohr writes for the Daily Record.

ONLINE TRANSACTIONS: The MVA says it sends out almost 2 million paper notices annually. If just half of those notices were sent via email, the administration says it could save $450,000 a year, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post in advocating for more such online transactions.

BILLING INMATES: A proposal to charge Frederick County inmates for jail intake costs and education landed on the desks of state lawmakers for a third year, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post.

MUM ON CURRIE: Members of a joint legislative committee on ethics declined to comment after a two-hour meeting behind closed doors yesterday, reports Danielle Gaines for the Gazette. It was the latest in a series of confidential meetings to decide the fate of embattled state Sen. Ulysses Currie.

MUM ON DHCD MOVE: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital blasts the state Department of General Services and O’Malley for being less than forthcoming in justifying their decision to move the DHCD from Crownsville to Prince George’s County. Their insistence that this is a good idea because it will generate $12 million in tax revenue has grown worse than tiresome.

HANDHELD WHILE DRIVING: Maryland lawmakers want to enable police to pull someone over if they are talking on a handheld cell phone while driving, the Sun reports. And Karen Parks of WBFF-TV reports that the fine for such an offense could be $500.

VOTE BY MAIL: In an op-ed in the Sun, Del. Jon Cardin and student Jonathan Huber write about a bill Cardin introduced in the House that would allow jurisdictions to hold special elections, which can be extremely costly when compared to voter turnout, by mail.

HENSON TRIAL JURY SELECTION: The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports that jury selection is expected to begin today in the election fraud “robocall” case against veteran political consultant Julius Henson after a Baltimore judge rejected a defense request to throw out the charges on grounds that they were unconstitutional.

The Post’s Greg Masters blogs that Henson’s attorney told the judge that there are “a whole lot of scoundrels out there” who try to influence election outcomes, and their political speech should be safeguarded.

FRACKING FILM II: The arrest of a documentary filmmaker at U.S. Rep. Andy Harris’ hearing on hydraulic fracturing last week likely will become fodder for “Gasland II,” the sequel to an Oscar-nominated documentary on the dangers of fracking by director Josh Fox. The sequel is about the fracking industry’s influence on Congress and is due out this summer, writes Nicole Gaudiano of the Gannett News Service in the Salisbury Daily Times.

TRANSGENDER BIAS BILL: Opponents of a proposed transgender anti-discrimination bill for Baltimore County returned to Towson Monday night to speak out against the proposed legislation, reports Bryan Sears for Patch.com. Only one person spoke in favor of it.

ANTI-GAY FLIERS: Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr called fliers sent home with students that said homosexuality is a choice that can be changed “reprehensible and deplorable,” but added that the county’s public schools will continue to distribute them because a court decision has tied his hands, Lisa Gartner reports in the Washington Examiner.

TAKE-HOME VEHICLES: Following an effort last year to save money by reducing the number of vehicles Montgomery County employees take home, senior-level county officials disagree on how effective changes have been, writes Kate Alexander for the Gazette.

PLEDGE ROUTINE: Columnist Eric Hartley of the Annapolis Capital writes about one new Circuit Court judge who starts his day in court every morning with the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

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