February 10, 2012

State Roundup, February 10, 2012

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ETHICS DISCLOSURES: A special committee on ethics reform will propose legislation that all financial disclosure forms will start going online next year, and those who file can no longer be told who has examined their documents, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.

FORELOSURE SETTLEMENT: Attorney General Douglas Gansler estimates that up to 40,000 Maryland homeowners could benefit from a $960 million settlement from banks for following incorrect foreclosure procedures, reports The Post’s Miranda Spivack,

The Sun’s Hanah Cho reports in a story appearing in the Herald-Mail that the money will be funneled to various housing and mortgage assistance programs.

WJZ’s Kai Jackson has a video version of the story.

CAYLEE’S LAW: Bills to increase penalties for failing to report a missing or dead child that would give Maryland one of the strictest laws in the nation were discussed by lawmakers on Thursday, reports Greg Masters of The Washington Post.

ERVIN GAY MARRIAGE AD: Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin is the latest person to star in an online ad pushing same-sex marriage, which will be debated in the House today, John Wagner writes for the Post.

EHRLICH OPERATIVE’S SUPPORT: Joe Steffen, a longtime political operative for former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, supported same-sex marriage – and first lady Katie O’Malley, who called last year’s marriage bill vote-changers “cowards” – on his blog, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

GAY MARRIAGE HEARING: The Washington Times’ David Hill sets the stage for today’s House hearing on gay marriage, which House Government Operations Committee Chairman Peter Hammen suspects will make for a very long day.

WBFF’s John Rydell also previews the hearing for television.

STALEMATE OVER: The conflict for which Sen. Joanne Benson held up a vote to confirm Acting Maryland State Police Superintendent Marcus Brown is resolved, and Benson told Daniel Menefee of MarylandReporter.com that she intends to give him a green vote.

CAPITOL GRIDLOCK: Capitol Hill gridlock on many issues is bad for business in Maryland, executives tell Lindsey Robbins at the Gazette.

DELAYING DEBATE: Over protests of many GOP members of the House of Delegates, an amendment to the House rules giving the Speaker more power to curtail frivolous or delaying debate passed on Thursday, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

BALCONY BILL: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports on a bill that would require the state to regularly inspect balconies on apartments, hotels, motels and condominiums to ensure that they are structurally sound.

ARSENIC CHICKEN FEED: Del. Tom Hucker’s hopes that this is the year his bill to ban arsenic in chicken feed becomes law, reports The Post’s Greg Masters.

CHEMOTHERAPY EQUALITY: Legislators heard a bill on Thursday that would require insurance companies to equalize out-of-pocket costs for chemotherapy drugs taken orally and intravenously, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

WYPR’s Joel McCord talks with Sen. Jim Mathias, whose wife Kathy died last year of cancer. The bill is named after her: The Kathleen A. Mathias Chemotherapy Parity Act of 2012.

Alex DeMetrick of WJZ has a video story, as does Janice Park from WBFF.

TANNING BED BILL: Sen. Jamie Raskin has proposed a bill to ban minors from tanning beds, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

WJZ’s Pat Warren has a television story about the bill.

HUMAN REMAINS BILL: A bill creating requirements for proper handling of human remains was heard by a Senate committee on Thursday, reports the Associated Press’ Brian Witte in a story appearing in the Cumberland Times-News.

PENSION SHIFT: Some county officials and school advocates say they are not far apart on key education spending issues — as long as teacher pension costs are not shifted from the state to local governments, reports the Gazette’s Andrew Ujifusa.

WOMEN’S CAUCUS: The caucus of women legislators in Annapolis is celebrating its 40th year. “We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done,” says the caucus chair, Del. Susan Lee, according to Benjamin Ford in the Gazette.

NO REPUBLICAN ENDORSEMENT: Ever-tax-conscious Comptroller Peter Franchot was the target of a news released insinuating he may endorse a Republican in the 6th District race, but he told the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers that he will be endorsing a Democrat.

KRYSZTOFORSKI WANTS LEADERSHIP: Republican 6th District Congressional Candidate Joe Krysztoforski said he wants to bring more leadership to Washington, D.C. if elected, reports Patti Borda of the News-Post.

BONGINO ON TV: Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is getting prominent play in a Discovery Channel series “Secret Service Secrets,” running Sunday nights on cable.

INTERNET TAX: Taxing Internet sales in Maryland isn’t likely to meet revenue projections and could drive businesses from the state, according to some experts, Dan Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

IMMIGRANT REPORT: The final report of the Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland highlights the positive aspects of immigrants in the state, according to an Associated Press article in The Daily Record.

Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com writes that the report recommends any changes to policy related to immigrants be made with honest and sincere discussion and compromise.

BAG TAX: Del. Veronica Turner said that the 5-cent bag tax for Prince George’s County failed a vote in the county’s house caucus because she was ill and could not cast a vote on Wednesday, but pledged to vote for it if the issue comes up again, reports The Washington Times’ David Hill.

FRACKING: The drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale deposits might be years off, but there are still bills being filed to deal with it, Margie Hyslop reports in the Gazette.

RURAL CAUCUS: The General Assembly’s Rural Caucus discussed several programs related to farms, pollution, energy savings, and redistricting, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

WASHINGTON COUNTY RECEPTION: Lobbyists from Washington County put on a reception in Annapolis on Thursday night to meet with lawmakers about their top issues, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

PLAZA PROTEST: Two companies have now protested a recommended $56 million contract award to Areas USA to redevelop two travel plazas along I-95, reports Jack Lambert of the Baltimore Business Journal.

ETHICS EXCEPTIONS: The towns of Crisfield and Princess Anne will be pleading their cases to be exempt from new state laws on ethics disclosures in May, reports Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times.