March 27, 2012

Briefs: Redistricting petition drive; Newt in Naptown; no study of third Bay Bridge

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Delegates announce petition drive to overturn congressional districting map.

Delegates announce petition drive to overturn congressional districting map.

Republicans and minority groups upset with new lines drawn for congressional districts are starting a petition drive to put the maps on the ballot in November.

“This map is patently unfair,” said Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, who developed the website MdPetitions.com, an online tool to gather petition signatures that was used last year to put the immigrant tuition bill on the November ballot.

Parrott said the map drawn by Gov. Martin O’Malley and advisers splits minority communities and rural communities.
MdPetitions.com is also supporting the drive to put the same-sex marriage law on the ballot for voters to decide.

GOP State Chairman Alex Mooney pointed out that in 1962, the League of Women Voters successfully petitioned a Maryland redistricting plan. It was rejected by the voters and eventually redrawn by the courts.

Newt in Annapolis

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, made a brief stop in Annapolis Tuesday.
Gingrich insisted he was in the presidential race to stay.

“Gov. Romney is the front runner, but is a long way from the nomination,” he said.

If Romney does not clinch the nomination by the end of the primaries June 26, Gingrich said the Republican convention in Tampa in August will be “one of the most interesting open conventions in American history.”

Gingrich promised to support whoever is the eventual Republican nominee, including Romney.

Gingrich also took a shot at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed gas tax increase.
“It shows as much political insensitivity as you can imagine,” Gingrich said. He has a plan for gasoline to get down to $2.50 a gallon.

Newt Gingrick talks to reporters outside the State House.

Newt Gingrick talks to reporters outside the State House.

No study of third bay bridge

The Maryland Senate Tuesday rejected a bill that would force the state to perform an environmental impact study on building a third Chesapeake Bay bridge span. The vote on the bill was 20-27.

The bill was backed by all three of the senators from the Eastern Shore.

“This bill is vital,” said Sen. Jim Mathias, the Lower Shore Democrat who had been mayor of Ocean City.

“I’m voting for this ‘cause it’s going to eventually settle the argument,” said Sen. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel, one of the sponsors of the bill. Not building a third span would be one of the options in the environmental impact study.

Opponents said the Maryland Transportation Authority, which runs the current bridges, has not requested the environmental impact study and was not equipped to perform it. Others objected to the estimated $30 million cost of the study over the next five to seven years.

“It is tied to a dedicated source of revenue,” the tolls on the bridges and tunnels, said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, lead sponsor of the bill. He said there was more available funding for the bridge study than there was to study construction of the Purple Line in suburban Washington and the Red Line in Baltimore.

–Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com