February 17, 2012

State Roundup, February 17, 2012

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MARRIAGE DEBATE DELAYED:  The debate and amending of the same-sex marriage bill, scheduled to take place in the House of Delegates on Thursday evening, was delayed until Friday afternoon, report Megan Poinski and Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com.

With all the delays, there is heavy speculation that supporters in the House of Delegates don’t have the votes to pass the bill, writes John Wagner of The Washington Post.

One amendment was added to the bill on Thursday, which changed its effective date to Jan. 1, 2013, according to an Associated Press report in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

Patch.com’s Bryan Sears writes that the adoption of this amendment was unusual, given that it had been rejected by the joint committee considering the bill on Tuesday.

WJZ’s Meghan McCorkell has more video on the same-sex marriage debate, as does Keith Daniels of Fox 45.

CHANGING VOTES…OR NOT: After voting against the bill in committee, Republican Del. A. Wade Kach announced on Thursday that he would support same-sex marriage on the House floor, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

Patch.com’s Bryan Sears weighs in on how this change of heart may negatively impact Kach’s political future.

Sears also reports that Del. John Olszewski Jr. also announced he will support the same-sex marriage bill.

Republican Del. Patrick Hogan, on the other hand, has decided that he will not support the bill, reports The Post’s Wagner. The Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers reports that Hogan’s stance earned praise from House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell.

The Sun’s Annie Linskey writes about the far-flung and high-profile lobbying on the bill – including calls to Annapolis from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Cardinal-elect Edwin O’Brien, calling from Rome.

Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar says the proponents of gay marriage face an uphill battle against Maryland’s religious traditionalists.

WBAL TV’s Dave Collins reports on delegates who would not discuss their stand on the same-sex marriage bill.

Rob Lang of WBAL AM talks to delegates on both sides of the issue, with audio and text describing an apology by O’Malley over his wife’s remarks.

The Capital’s Earl Kelly runs down where each member of the Anne Arundel County delegation stands on the legislation.

David Hill of The Washington Times also takes a look at where delegates stand on the bill.

GAY LAWMAKERS SPEAK: Post columnist Petula Dvorak speaks to a handful of Maryland’s openly gay lawmakers to find out just what the same-sex marriage bill means to them.

VICTORY NO MATTER WHAT? MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick writes about a video of Attorney General Douglas Gansler that has been circulated by Del. Don Dwyer because he says it gives reason for any referendum on same-sex marriage to be suspect. In the video, Gansler says that if the bill passes and is petitioned to referendum, judges appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley — who offered this year’s legislation — will be deciding the case.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS CENSURE: The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics issued its recommendation to censure state Sen. Ulysses Currie for failing to disclose consulting fees that he received from a grocery chain, and then using his influence to pass policy favorable to the stores, reports Dan Menefee of MarylandReporter.com.

The ethics report was released to the public shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, according to Danielle Gaines and Dan Leaderman in the Gazette.

Mike Hellgren of WJZ reports on punishment of Currie in this video, including comments from ethics committee member Sen. Nancy Jacobs.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the report on Friday, reports The Washington Times’ David Hill.

If the Senate follows the committee’s recommendation, it will be the first time a Maryland senator has been disciplined by the chamber in 14 years, according to an Associated Press story in the Daily Record.

Hayley Petersen of the Washington Examiner reports that the panel could have recommended to expel Currie, but did not.

NO JAIL FOR SCHURICK: Paul Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Gov. Bob Ehrlich who approved an election night robocall urging black voters to stay home, was sentenced to home detention, community service, and probation, reports The Post’s Aaron Davis.

The Gazette’s Margie Hyslop reports Schurick will serve 30 days’ home detention and 500 hours of public service during four years’ probation.

Watch Schurick’s response on WBAL TV’s video. Derek Valcourt of WJZ has more details.

PUBLIC DEFENDER MANDATE DELAYED: Maryland’s highest court decided Thursday to wait for more information before issuing a mandate that would require lawyers to be available to a defendant within 24 hours of arrest, writes Margie Hyslop in the Gazette.

The Maryland Court of Appeals is pushing back enforcement of this ruling until March 5, allowing the state to figure out a way to pay the price tag, which is in the millions of dollars, reports The Post’s Dan Morse.

REDISTRICTING: Delegates who introduced alternative legislative districting plans are upset that their plans won’t even get a hearing before the governor’s proposal goes into effect next week, Danielle Gaines writes in the Gazette.

TABLE GAMES: A DISTRACTION: Gov. Martin O’Malley said at a Wednesday night forum that he thinks pushing for table games during the current legislative session is a distraction from more important pending issues, according to a story by Brian Witte of the Associated Press, which ran in The Capital.

O’MALLEY V. FRANCHOT: Gazette columnist Laslo Boyd opines that neither the governor nor the comptroller came off well in their recent snippy comments about each other.

PRIVATE PETITIONS: Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com reports on a bill that would block public access to petitions to prevent intimidation and personal attacks.

MIDDLETON SUPPORTS WIND POWER: After scuttling Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to develop wind power last year, Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton now says he is completely in support of this year’s wind power bill, according to a Baltimore Sun blog post.

NATIONAL HARBOR CASINO PROPOSED: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced Thursday that a $1 billion casino in the National Harbor development could be a catalyst for economic development, a driver for revenues, and a magnet for tourism, reports The Sun’s John Wagner and Miranda Spivack.

Baker says he supports slot machine gambling in the county, but only at National Harbor, reports Dan Leaderman in the Gazette.

Several county leaders are disappointed and still digesting Baker’s plans, which were all announced on Thursday morning, reports The Post’s Miranda Spivack.

In order to establish the casino, legislation allowing it to be built must pass the General Assembly, and it must be approved in a statewide referendum, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

Dana Amihere from the Prince George’s Sentinel takes a look at the wider implications of the issue, especially concentrating on Rosecroft Raceway owner Penn National Gaming.

COLLEGE COMPLETION: A new report from the University of Pennsylvania says that Maryland needs to place more of an emphasis on helping black, Hispanic, and low-income students succeed in college, reports The Sun’s Childs Walker.

TAX CREDITS AUDIT: Sloppy practices at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development led to companies taking taxpayer dollars or qualifying for tax breaks without proving they met their end of investment agreements, an audit has revealed. Danielle Gaines reports in the Gazette.

GAS TAX: Highway projects put on hold for years, waiting for an infusion of new transportation dollars, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe and extreme weather conditions will not stop coming in Maryland if something is not done about global warming, according to a report released Thursday by Environment Maryland, reports Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times.

PG BAG TAX: A bill that would establish a disposable bag tax on Prince George’s County retailers is stalled in a delegation committee, but could be voted on by the end of the month, reports the Laurel Leader’s Lindsey McPherson.

FREDERICK EARLY VOTING: Sen. Ron Young introduced a bill that would establish three early voting centers – as opposed to just one now — in Frederick County, writes the News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers.

AA DEADLOCK: After more than 100 rounds of votes Thursday night, the Anne Arundel County Council deadlocked on the vote to appoint a replacement for former  Councilman Daryl Jones, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller.

MARYLANDERS WORKING ON METRO: There are more Marylanders working on the new Dulles Metrorail than those who live in the railway’s home state of Virginia, reports The Examiner’s Liz Essley.

WASHINGTON COUNTY EMERGENCY FEES: A bill that would let Washington County’s emergency services bill ran into some problems in Annapolis on Thursday, according to Andrew Schotz in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

COMMISSIONERS ON CARROLL COUNTY LEGISLATION: Carroll County Commissioners voted their viewpoints on several pieces of pending legislation before the General Assembly. The Carroll County Times’ Christian Alexandersen presents their votes in a chart.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has notes on a Mike McDermott speech; confusion over marriage amendments; lawmakers basketball; and an end-of-the-world party for freshmen delegates.