March 22, 2012

State Roundup, March 22, 2012

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CUTTING POT PENALTIES: With slim chances of legalizing medical marijuana distribution this year, a state lawmaker from Frederick County is now focused on creating a criminal defense for caretakers who bring the drug to patients, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News-Post.

The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would cut the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in a way that curtails the right to an initial jury trial on the charges, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

ABORTION DATA COLLECTION: Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would track demographic and medical information for abortion patients in the state, writes Ben Giles in the Washington Examiner. But Robyn Elliott, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said the information won’t actually help women.

UPPING FILM-MAKING TAX CREDIT: Tripling the annual amount of the state’s tax credit for film production will create thousands of jobs and add tens of millions of dollars to the local economy, supporters of a bill to increase the tax credit to $22.5 million told a Senate committee yesterday, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

The Sun’s David Zurawik writes about the latest film-making venture to come to Maryland – “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey – as well as the tax credit proposal and how such credits lure studios.

MATHIAS PULLS SPONSORSHIP: Citing public perception, state Sen. James Mathias says he will withdraw as a co-sponsor from legislation that would provide up to $1.2 million a year in operating assistance to a horse-racing track where his private employer helped build a casino, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

P.O. PURCHASE POOH-POOHED: Gov. Martin O’Malley has budgeted $3.6 million to buy the historic Annapolis post office at Church Circle, but a report by the Department of Legislative Services calls the building a bad investment, Earl Kelly writes in the Annapolis Capital.

SUSPENDING CHILD SUPPORT: The House of Delegates narrowly passed a bill that would suspend child support payments for anyone incarcerated for more than 18 consecutive months and continuing 60 days after their release to avoid the accrual of an unmanageable lump sum, Justin Snow reports for MarylandReporter.com.

JUDGES’ RETIREMENT AGE: A vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 72 has been put on hold until tomorrow, when floor amendments will be offered, Daniel Menefee writes for MarylandReporter.com.

DEATH PENALTY: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks addresses the death penalty, its history in the United States and its continuation in Maryland.

O’MALLEY IN CT: Gov. O’Malley is booked tomorrow as the keynote speaker at a Democratic party dinner in Connecticut, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

O’MALLEY VS. CUOMO: Joshua Miller of Roll Call writes that the way O’Malley handled state congressional redistricting will be looked at favorably compared to how his potential 2016 presidential rival, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, failed to handle redistricting in that state.

ISSUES IN THE 8th: Republican congressional candidates for the 8th District addressed issues during a forum last night including foreign policy, health care reform, high gasoline prices, illegal immigration and the declining performance of the U.S. Postal Service, Courtney Pomeroy writes in the Frederick News-Post. The seat is held by Democrat Chris Van Hollen.

6th DISTRICT RACE

DELANEY ON RODRICKS: Midday with Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM continues its focus on Maryland’s 6th congressional district seat with John Delaney, the businessman and political newcomer who is running in the Democratic primary.

POORAN CONFIDENT: Dr. Milad Pooran, who views himself as the real progressive in the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary, is putting $200,000 of his own money into his campaign, with only 11 days remaining till the primary, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com. Favorable data from a poll conducted for the campaign triggered the decision, his campaign manager said.

BRINKLEY ADS: David Moon of Maryland Juice links to 6th District candidate David Brinkley’s latest commercials.

AFZALI AD: And Kathy Afzali has also released a new ad, Moon writes. Scroll past the financial dislosure form to view it.

ROMNEY WOOS ARBUTUS: Arbutus resident Judy Rodriguez says the values that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney talked about during his visit of less than an hour match those of the town he visited, Brian Conlin reports for Patuxent Publishing.

You can view just the kind of excitement Romney’s visit yesterday stirred up in this photo gallery shot by Sun photog Karl Merton Ferron.

But Romney was forced to defend his conservative credentials after an aide referred to his campaign as an “Etch A Sketch” that could be shaken up and erased for the general election in November, writes John Fritze for the Sun. At the top of the page is a video short video of Romney making a joke.

Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV offers a detailed report about a super PAC ad attacking Romney opponent Rick Santorum is showing up on Maryland TV.

Keith Daniels of WBFF-TV reports on Romney’s visit.

Aaron Davis of the Post did a little pre-visit blogging about Romney that included a chat with Democratic U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer on the candidate.

CHIEF SEEKS LEOPOLD PROBE: Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare has acknowledged that information allegedly gathered by officers for use in dossiers on Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold’s political enemies “possibly violates” state and federal law, Nicole Fuller reports in the Sun. Teare has asked the Maryland State Police for help investigating allegations that Leopold’s security officers improperly accessed a criminal records database at Leopold’s direction.

Teare acknowledged that information revealed in response to an ACLU request indicates department rules and regulations, as well as state and federal laws, may have been broken, Ben Weathers of the Annapolis Capital reports.

JUDGE FINDS FOR COUNCIL: The Anne Arundel County Council was within its rights to remove Councilman Daryl Jones from his seat when he reported to prison, a judge has ruled, supporting the council’s position that members must continuously live in their districts, writes Nicole Fuller in the Sun.

Allison Bourg of the Annapolis Capital reports that the judge wrote that when Jones, who is serving five months for failing to file income taxes, was elected to his second term in November 2010, he didn’t disclose that he was being investigated for tax violations.

BREAKING THE IMPASSE: The Annapolis Capital editorial board praises Councilman Dick Ladd for finally breaking the long impasse over Jones’ replacement.