February 27, 2012

State Roundup, February 27, 2012

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NO CHILD WAIVER: State education leaders expect to apply today for a waiver from some of the most rigid requirements of No Child Left Behind, a federal law widely viewed as flawed because it has labeled so many schools as failing, writes Liz Bowie of the Sun.

GAY MARRIAGE CONTINUED: Greg Masters and Aaron Davis of the Post follow up on Senate Pres Mike Miller statement that he is on the wrong side of history with his vote against gay marriage.

Gov. Martin O’Malley will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law on Thursday, writes David Hill of the Washington Times.

Gigi Barnett of WJZ-TV reports that churches will now take center stage as the campaign to put the measure on the ballot begins.

Here’s Red Maryland and Maryland Juice coming at same sex marriage and other equality issues from two completely different places.

FIRST LOVE, NOW MONEY: The first 45 days of the General Assembly session were dominated by talk of marriage. The theme for the second half is shaping up to be money — and there’s not enough of it, Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser of the Sun report.

MTA’S POOR SHOWING: The Maryland Transit Administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars without verifying bills and had little control over payroll, according to the Office of Legislative Audits, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

SOLAR AGREEMENTS: Dissatisfied with last year’s solar-farm agreement for state prison land, state Sen. Christopher Shank is pressing to change the lease process, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

FRACKING MEETING: Maryland officials will hold a meeting at 9:30 this morning at Hagerstown Community College, The Merle S. Elliott Conference Center, Room 213, to discuss natural gas production from Marcellus Shale — a form of shale found in Washington County and other parts of the northern Appalachian Basin, according to a brief in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERS: A big shipping container company signed on at the Port of Baltimore Friday, and state Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley used the opportunity to further laud the importance of public-private partnerships in Maryland, Alexander Pyles reports for the Daily Record.

FRANCHOT ON MONEY: Comptroller Peter Franchot says any increase in the gas tax will have “a direct negative impact on Maryland’s very feeble economy.” In a video interview with Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com he talks about his relations with Gov. O’Malley and what has turned him into a fiscal conservative.

TOUGH BUDGET: Dave Collins of WBAL-TV is reporting that legislators in Annapolis are preparing a doomsday budget.

VOTER FRAUD A PHANTOM: The Sun editorial board takes aim at voter fraud, which it calls “the phantom menace,” and the reasons why bills are proposed to alleviate the “menace.”

O’MALLEY SPEAKS: The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes about Gov. O’Malley’s appearance on Sunday gabshow “Face the Nation,” in which he was able to get in a couple of jabs at several high-profile Republicans.

Days before that took place, O’Malley, head of the Dems Governors Association, and VA Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is head of the GOP Governors Association, sparred over “social issues” such as abortion and vaginal ultrasounds and gay marriage at an event hosted by Politico, Aaron Davis reports for the Post.

And New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie says that O’Malley is “not that smart,” according to WMAR-TV.

HENSON TRIAL POSTPONED: The trial of Julius Henson, a controversial political operative accused of designing an election night robocall to dampen black voter turnout, has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts involving his attorney, blogs the Post’s Greg Masters.

6th DISTRICT: AFZALI PROFILE: Stephanie Mlot of the Frederick News Post profiles 6th Congressional District candidate and current state Del. Kathy Afzali as she makes her foray into national politics after only one-year as delegate.

6th DISTRICT: GARAGIOLA BLUES: An AP report in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail says that state Sen. Rob Garagiola, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat, may have violated state ethics rules by failing to report his employment by a Washington lobbying firm for three years.

Garagiola said he did not report income from two employers because he misunderstood the instructions on a required financial disclosure form, writes Daniel Menefee for MarylandReporter.com.

CARDIN ON USPS CUTS: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin criticized proposed cuts to mail processing facilities announced by the U.S. Postal Service this week, two of which could see Maryland facilities consolidated with others outside the state, Mark Miller of the Capital News Service writes in the Easton Star-Democrat.

SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office in Baltimore received a package containing a harmless powdery substance Friday, according to a story at WBAL-TV.

BA CO ETHICS LAWS: The State Ethics Commission has warned Baltimore County that it is not in compliance with a 2010 law that requires local ethics laws to be at least as strong as those state lawmakers must follow, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.

ARUNDEL COUNCIL CONTROVERSY: Allison Bourg of the Annapolis Capital reports on who is actually handling constituent services now that Daryl Jones’s district is without a county councilman since he was voted off the council prior to being sent to serve a five-month prison term.

Related to that, Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes about how embarrassing it is that the all-white, all-male council is deadlocked between a qualified white man and a qualified black man in choosing a replacement for African-American Jones.

Meanwhile, another Arundel county councilman was peppered with questions Saturday about diversity on the all-white, all-male council — and criticized for his public use of a racial slur — before storming out of a community forum in Odenton, Nicole Fuller writes for the Sun.

WESTERN EDUCATION: A group from Carroll and western counties is taking a trip to Annapolis today to meet with local legislators about issues affecting public schools, writes Alisha George for the Carroll County Times.

ENGLISH, OFFICIALLY: The editorial writers for the Frederick News-Post question the usefulness of making English the official language of Frederick County.

CASINO IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: Advocates for a Prince George’s County casino faced off last Wednesday as speakers at a hearing before the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee spent three hours debating whether National Harbor or Rosecroft Raceway would be the best location, Lindsey McPherson of the Laurel Leader writes.