State Roundup, March 21, 2012

March 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

HOUSE BUDGET LACKING: Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that Senate President Mike Miller says that budget plans adopted by a House panel don’t raise enough new revenue for Maryland. Miller added that lawmakers would have to be ready to raise taxes again next year under the delegates’ proposal.

PETITION TRAINING: Opponents of Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law are holding a series of closed-door training sessions to teach volunteers how to properly collect signatures to petition the measure to referendum, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

SEPTIC PLANS ON THE MOVE: A handful of high-profile environmental bills, including Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposals to increase the “flush tax” and restrict septic systems, are reaching critical junctures in their journey through the Maryland legislature, the Post’s Greg Masters writes.

O’Malley’s controversial bill to control septic systems was brought to the Senate floor, with opponents planning to offer a series of amendments, writes Daniel Menefee for MarylandReporter.com.

STATE ON TRACK: Writing in the Sun, Timothy Wheeler reports that Maryland is largely on track to meet its goal of reducing climate-warming pollution 25% by the end of the decade, according to O’Malley administration officials, but still needs legislation being debated in Annapolis to put wind turbines off Ocean City, limit sprawl and increase funding for mass transit.

A NOT-SO-RICH STATE: In writing about Senate President Mike Miller’s views on the gas tax, columnist Marta Mossburg, in the Frederick News Post, says Maryland may have one of the highest percentages of millionaires in the nation, but outside of Montgomery, Howard and a few pockets in other counties, people here are not rich.

FRACKING FEE PASSES HOUSE: Maryland would become the first state in the nation to charge energy companies a fee to finance studies on best practices for extracting natural gas from Marcellus shale, under a bill approved yesterday by the state’s House of Delegates, the AP’s Brian Witte reports in the Cumberland Times-News.

POOR MARKS ON ETHICS: In the midst of a session that has seen ethics and transparency pushed into the spotlight, two reports released this week gave the state poor rankings on both issues, Justin Snow reports in MarylandReporter.com.

ELECTRICAL TESTING: Deanna Green was electrocuted six years ago while playing softball at Druid Hill Park. She had touched a fence that had come into contact with aging underground electric wires. John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that a bill in Annapolis would require utility companies to conduct more tests on underground wires.

Weijia Jiang of WJZ-TV also reports on the story.

SOPHOCLEUS HOSPITALIZED: Del. Ted Sophocleus was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center by ambulance yesterday with what doctors have diagnosed as pneumonia, Earl Kelly blogs in the Capital.

FREDERICK BOARD OF ED: A legislative duel between two lawmakers from Frederick County ended Monday night with the state Senate approving a local bill that would permit spouses of teachers to serve on the county’s Board of Education, Bethany Rodgers writes in the Frederick News Post.

O’MALLEY PLAYS WHITE HOUSE: John Fritze of the Sun blogs that Gov. O’Malley’s band got to play a particularly exclusive venue last night: the East Room at the White House. The band was on stage for a St. Patrick’s Day reception honoring Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

MD ON GOP RADAR: With Mitt Romney’s visit today, the protracted battle for the Republican presidential nomination is about to thrust Maryland’s GOP voters into the unusual position of having a voice in a national political contest even though they live in one of the country’s most reliably blue states, writes John Fritze in the Sun.

Local Republicans express various degrees of enthusiasm over Romney’s visit to Arbutus, Brian Conlin reports for Patuxent Publishing.

Here’s WMAR-TV’s Linda So’s report on Romney’s visit.

David Moon of Maryland Juice offers up a list of Romney’s key supporters in Maryland.

MILAD POORAN IN THE 6th: Sun columnist Thomas Schaller calls attention to 6th Congressional District candidate Milad Pooran, a 35-year-old Iranian-American physician and veteran of the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. He’s not the profile of a typical congressional aspirant.

Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland also finds Pooran to be a more than credible candidate: He supports achieving universal health care coverage in this country and does not rule out the possibility of pushing for a single payer system. He’s been endorsed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and the co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

SENATE GOP RACE: Maryland’s Republican Senate primary has hit the airwaves, with the two best-known GOP candidates — former Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino and former Defense Department official Richard Douglas — going on the radio before voters head to the polls April 3, blogs Ben Pershing for the Post. Scroll through the story to view their commercials.

AWAITING POSTAL REPLY: Becca Newell of the Easton Star Democrat reports that U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski are awaiting a reply to their request to the U.S. Postmaster General for public input in the ongoing third study regarding the Eastern Shore Processing and Distribution Facility.

AA COUNCIL TO QUESTION POLICE CHIEF: The Anne Arundel County Council subpoenaed county Police Chief James Teare, asking him to explain what he knew about County Executive John Leopold’s alleged misuse of his police detail, Allison Bourg reports in the Annapolis Capital. He is to appear before the council next Monday.

Mike Hellgren of WJZ-TV reports on why this is likely the first of many subpoenas in the scandal. Scroll down for the video.

MO CO BILLS HIT LEGGETT: Victor Zapana of the Post reports that the Montgomery County Council is considering a slew of bills intended to boost economic development by making the county more business friendly. But some of the bills are pitting legislators against County Executive Ike Leggett.

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