March 12, 2012

State Roundup, March 12, 2012

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MARRIAGE EQUALITY SUPPORTERS ALSO GEAR UP: As opponents of Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law gear up for a petition drive, supporters of the measure are getting into the act by collecting names online in an effort to show “support for defending marriage equality for loving gay and lesbian couples,” blogs John Wagner in the Post.

ASTLE ON SMOKING: A controversial bill that would ban smoking inside any car with a child under the age of 8 took an interesting turn Friday when state Sen. John Astle proposed an amendment that would change the age from 8 to 16 in what appeared to be an attempt to kill the bill, writes Justin Snow for Citing his opposition to red light and speed cameras, Astle said he was aware of the health risks of smoking, but was concerned the bill could be a slippery slope.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record reports that Astle’s proposal was approved, then voted down, confusing not only someone new to Annapolis like him but Senate President Mike Miller as well.

ENGLISH OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Last month, Frederick County became the first in Maryland to declare English its official language. Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties are considering similar laws as well — part of a nationwide movement that supporters tout as a way to help immigrants assimilate, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.

SENATE OK OF BUDGET: This is the week the Maryland Senate is expected to approve its version of a state budget, including the broadest increase in the state’s income tax since 1997, reports Robert Lang for WBAL-AM.

$100,000+ SALARIES: Last year, 5,522 state employees brought home paychecks that added up to $100,000 or more, according to the Comptroller’s office. That’s about 6% of most full-time workers employed by the state and 383 more than in 2010, writes Megan Poinski for Almost three-quarters of those making more than $100,000 were affiliated with the state’s university system.

$40,000 AND UNDER: Poinski also reports that about a third of the salaried full-time employees working for state government – about 28,391– are paid $40,000 or less.

CURB ON GAS CARS: State Sen. E.J. Pipkin is calling a bill that would prohibit cars that run solely on gas from parking at electric vehicle charging stations elitist, writes Mali Krantz of the Capital News Service in the Easton Star-Democrat. The Senate is poised to vote in favor of the bill.

INCARCERATING GIRLS: Writing in the Cecil Whig, Kelsey Miller of the Capital News Service reports that girls are being committed to residential treatment centers after being accused of lesser crimes at a much higher rate than boys, according to statistics from the Department of Juvenile Services.

GAMBLING FOR VETS: A bill that would allow up to five pull tab machines at veterans organizations in many counties in the state has passed the Maryland Senate by a vote of 47-0, Matthew Bieniek writes for the Cumberland Times-News.

LEGAL NOTICES: Among Annapolis briefs in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail is an item that said several arguments were offered during a hearing on Sen. Ron Young’s bill to eliminate the requirement for governments to buy local newspaper ads to publicize hearings or actions.

ROLLING BACK SARBANES-OXLEY: U.S. Reps. John Sarbanes and Donna Edwards opposed a jobs bill that won House approval last week because it would roll back regulations intended to protect investors, including those created under the landmark and controversial Sarbanes-Oxley law, blogs John Fritze in the Sun. The law, of course, was crafted in part by John Sarbanes’ father, former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

POST BACKS DELANEY: The editorial board for the Post endorses in the Democratic Primary for the 6th Congressional District race, saying, The contest boils down to two candidates from Montgomery: John Delaney, a self-made businessman and first-time candidate, and state Sen. Rob Garagiola, an Annapolis insider with deep ties to the capital’s lobbyists and power brokers. Of the pair, Mr. Delaney would be by far the more independent-minded congressman and probably the more effective one, too.

TOUTS CLINTON SUPPORT: With three weeks remaining until primary day, Delaney is seeking to boost his congressional campaign with a fresh set of ads about a high-profile endorser — Bill Clinton, blogs Ben Pershing in the Post. Scroll down the story to view the ad.

MIKULSKI HONORED: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski was presented the 2012 Harriet Ross Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award by the Maryland African American Tourism Council for her continued service to the people of Maryland, as well as her work to promote the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman, according to a story in the Easton Star-Democrat.

O’MALLEY V MCDONNELL: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley offered a backhanded compliment when asked on national television about the vice presidential prospects of Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R), a supporter of Mitt Romney, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

The Sun’s Annie Linskey offers an assessment of who won and who had the harder time in the back and forth between the two on Meet The Press.

LEOPOLD’S NEXT MOVES: Erin Cox of the Annapolis Capital writes that, since a grand jury handed down a five-count indictment accusing Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold of misusing his police detail for personal and political gain, the two-term Republican county executive and career politician has not for a moment shunned the spotlight.

Constituent service has always been Leopold’s bread and butter, and has for the past several years helped him overcome persistent questions, accusations and rumors about his personal life. But this latest scandal could be the toughest test yet, Nicole Fuller writes in the Sun.

The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that the ACLU’s request for documents in the Leopold case should be another concern for both Leopold and his police chief, James Teare.

SUNSHINE STATE: The Carroll County Times filed several Public Information Act requests and has written several stories about the salaries of public officials for Sunshine Week in Maryland. Here, the Times staff writes about the police and sheriff salaries.

Columnist Jim Lee writes that Carroll residents are treated to elected officials who have gone to extraordinary lengths to shut out the public and place a dark cloud of secrecy over the working of government. And the editorial board for the Times writes that knowing the salaries is key to having an informed public.

Brian Englar of the Frederick News-Post reports on private citizens and that paper’s own who use the federal Freedom of Information Act to access government documents.