March 6, 2012

State Roundup, March 6, 2012

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MD GUN LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Maryland’s requirement that residents show a “good and substantial reason” to get a handgun permit is unconstitutional, according to a federal judge’s opinion filed yesterday, the AP’s Sarah Brumfield reports in the Annapolis Capital.

The ruling was hailed alternately as a victory by gun enthusiasts, who saw it as a bolster to public safety, and as a dangerous precedent by gun opponents, who painted it as a return to the Wild West, writes Tricia Bishop in the Sun.

Aaron Davis and Dan Morse of the Post write that gun rights advocates said the opinion would help as they challenge similar laws in about a half-dozen states. Meanwhile Maryland officials say they are seeking a stay and will appeal the decision.

Emily Babay of the Washington Examiner reports that Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fader said that his office disagreed with the ruling and would appeal.

Bill Gostomski, a Mount Savage gunsmith, was tickled by the ruling earlier in the day, Michael Sawyers reports in the Cumberland Times-News . “There is no reason a law-abiding citizen with no felonies should not be able to carry a handgun,” Gostomski said.

DOOMSDAY BUDGET: State aid to public schools and universities could be slashed, 500 state jobs abolished and local law enforcement grants eliminated under a “doomsday” budget prepared for the Maryland Senate to show the impact of a budget balanced without tax increases, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

BUDGET FIGHT: Anthony McCarthy, state Sen. David Brinkley and state Del. Heather Mizeur joins Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM to discuss the continuing political wrangling over the state budget.

HIJACKING CONTROL: The Post editorial board opines that, in thrall to the power and money of state and local teachers unions, legislative leaders in Annapolis have conjured legislation that would force jurisdictions such as Montgomery County to divert tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to one, and only one, area of local government: schools.

SCHOOL FUNDING FORUM: Carroll County Public Schools and the Carroll County Education Association will host a community forum at 6:30 tonight about pension pass-back costs and possible issues concerning maintenance of effort funding, and explain how they could affect the local school system, writes Alisha George of the Carroll County Times.

TRANSPORTATION MONEY: Representatives of the transportation construction industry have appealed to Eastern Shore lawmakers to find more money for transportation projects on the Shore, reports Jack Shaum for the Easton Star-Democrat. They also think it’s time to pass the governor’s sales tax hike on gasoline to provide needed transportation revenue.

O’MALLEY PUSHES BACK: John Wagner of the Post blogs that Gov. Martin O’Malley, appearing on MPT with Jeff Salkin, pushed back last night against a move in the state Senate to scrap his income-tax proposal for another plan, saying he still considers his idea “pretty sound.”

JOBS & WIND: Gov. O’Malley asked the state’s congressional delegation yesterday to advocate for funds to create jobs and for an offshore wind project, Danielle Gaines reports for the Gazette.

AFSCME RALLY: More than a hundred people rallied outside the State House last night as they urged lawmakers to expand the collective bargaining rights of state employees, many donning green hats, scarves and shirts representing AFSCME on the windy March night while waving signs that read “Respect, Rights, Revenue,” Justin Snow reports for MarylandReporter.com.

JUDGES’ SALARY HIKE LIKELY: The Senate rejected a floor amendment to freeze Circuit Court judges’ salaries at current levels last night as the Senate cleared the way for final passage of a 3% pay raise over three years – an increase of up to $14,500 by 2016, Daniel Menefee writes for MarylandReporter.com.

GAY MARRIAGE: In an op-ed in the Diamondback, UM student Joshua Dowling describes what it is like to be discriminated against as a gay man and how grateful he is that the state of Maryland passed the marriage equality law.

Writing in the Frederick News-Post, columnist Don Kornreich predicts that all the action and reaction over same-sex marriage laws nationwide mean the issue will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

REPRESENTING FARMERS: State Sen. Richard Colburn says funding for the embattled University of Maryland environmental law clinic should be used to create a similar program at the University of Baltimore School of Law that would represent farmers, according to AP brief in the Carroll County Times.

The move would transfer $500,000 from the law clinic’s lobby shop to establish an agricultural law clinic at the University of Baltimore law school, the AP’s Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

BOAT FEE HIKE: Del. Jay Jacobs is convinced that in Maryland, “you can do most anything else, but don’t mess with my boat,” he said. “I’ve gotten more email on that than on same-sex marriage.” He was referring to the state plan to hike boat registration and associated fees, according to a report in the Cecil Whig.

ONCE ANTI, NOW PRO SLOTS: An Annapolis lobbyist who spent years trying to fend off the introduction of slot-machine gambling in Maryland has now been enlisted in a rather different cause: helping bring a billion-dollar casino to Prince George’s County, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

O’M BOOKED ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY: “The artist formerly known as the Mayor” and his Celtic rock band will be playing two sets in Baltimore on St. Patrick’s Day, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

ENDORSEMENTS, DISCLOSURES IN 6th: On Friday 6th Congressional District candidate John Delaney released the disclosure forms that documented his sizable wealth – worth $51 million to $278 million – and yesterday he got one of the biggest endorsements any Democrat could covet — from former President Bill Clinton, Glynis Kazanjian and Len Lazarick write for MarylandReporter.com.

Delaney is locked in a heated contest with state Sen. Rob Garagiola for the party nod in the seat currently held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett; Air Force doctor Milad Pooran and two others are also running for the Democratic nod, Ben Pershing writes in the Post.

NEXT STEPS IN LEOPOLD CASE: A union representing members of Anne Arundel County’s police force called for County Executive John Leopold and Police Chief James Teare to resign, following Leopold’s indictment on misconduct charges that allege he used his police security detail for personal and political gain and that Teare did not take effective steps to stop it, Erin Cox reports for the Annapolis Capital.

Three days after Leopold was indicted on charges that he used his security detail to promote his re-election and to arrange sexual rendezvous, pressure mounted yesterday for Police Chief Teare to publicly address the issue, Nicole Fuller and Andrea Siegal report for the Sun.

ARUNDEL COUNCIL IMPASSE CONTINUES: The Anne Arundel County Council last night failed to break an impasse over two finalists – one young and black, the other older and white – for a vacancy on the council and delayed a new vote for another two weeks, writes Nicole Fuller for the Sun. The ongoing deadlock has brought the council widespread criticism.

And David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs about the connection between Arundel County Exec Leopold and the conservative white Democrat who is seeking to fill the vacant council seat.

GOLF SHOTS: Donald Hutchinson, chairman of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority, meant to tell members of the county’s House delegation that he was neutral on two more bills affecting his agency but his testimony sounded a little more like opposition, writes Bryan Sears for Patch.com. Hutchinson said both bills would affect the same person.