March 28, 2012

State Roundup, March 28, 2012

Print More

TEACHER PENSIONS/STATE BURDEN: Kate Alexander of the Gazette reports that a shift of some of the state’s teacher pension costs might be inevitable for counties, but the $19 billion unfunded liability will likely remain a burden for the state. Both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates passed budgets that shift only the “normal” costs of teacher pensions, meaning the amount needed to pay pension liabilities if the system hadn’t been underfunded in the past.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: As Maryland lawmakers consider six proposals to curb human trafficking, Jeremy Arias of the Gazette writes, one Maryland legislator has found out not everyone agrees on the appropriate penalty.

SENATE OKs GAMING BILL: Legislation to expand gambling in Maryland with table games and a Prince George’s County casino passed the state Senate yesterday, Ben Giles reports in the Washington Examiner.

Should the legislation pass in the House, it would still have to be approved by voters on the November ballot, Annie Linskey blogs in the Sun.

SEPTIC LEGISLATION: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill to curb sprawl by limiting septic systems — a key piece of his legislative agenda — cleared the Maryland Senate Monday, albeit in a weakened form, writes Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser in the Sun. The measure aims to slow the pace of development of the state’s farmlands, forests and other rural areas. It also would reduce pollution from septic systems into the Chesapeake Bay.

“The bill is clearly a down-zoning,” said Sen. Barry Glassman in MarylandReporter.com’s coverage of the final debate.

ABOUT STATE CENTER: Sun columnist Marta Mossburg writes that, allegedly designed to expedite major developments and create jobs, legislation supported by Gov. Martin O’Malley outlining rules for public-private partnerships passed the House yesterday. The amendments in HB 576 — which give public-private partnerships special legal status, and do it retroactively — show this legislation is about one project near and dear to the O’Malley administration: State Center.

But the editorial board for the Sun says the legislation is neither unprecedented nor unconstitutional.

Melinda Roeder of WBFF-TV interviews several legislators for and against the bill.

REDISTRICTING TO REFERENDUM: A group that has already put one referendum issue on November’s ballot has turned its sights to Maryland’s new congressional map, announcing yesterday that it will try to gather enough signatures to give voters a chance to throw out the redistricting plan, reports the Sun’s Annie Linskey.

The referendum effort is the latest in a series of challenges to a redistricting plan that critics say protects and bolsters Democrats at the expense of rural and minority communities, Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports.

Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that, with gay marriage and the DREAM Act, this is creating the possibility of at least three hot-button referendum questions on the November general-election ballot.

Nearly 56,000 signatures are needed to bring the issue to referendum, Ben Giles reports in the Washington Examiner.

GINGRICH IN MD: In a series of campaign events ahead of Maryland’s April 3 primary, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich vowed to continue his nomination bid until Republicans meet in Tampa, Fla., this summer for their convention. He laid out his vision for the U.S. economy and the role of government, and even took a dig at O’Malley’s proposed gas tax increase, John Fritze and Michael Dresser report in the Sun.

Greg Masters of the Post blogs that Gingrich was in Annapolis, where he spoke to the Maryland Senate and toured several small businesses – including a jewelry store owned by a Republican delegate.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV was with Gingrich.

Without going into details, Gingrich promised that if he wins the White House, the United States will achieve energy independence “so no American president ever has to bow to a Saudi king again,” writes Earl Kelly of the Annapolis Capital.

Salisbury became the latest stop on the Republican campaign trail as Gingrich spent the better part of an afternoon visiting the zoo and speaking to students at Salisbury University, writes Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times.

STAND YOUR GROUND:  Brian Englar of the Frederick News-Post takes a look at “stand your ground” laws, Maryland law and the use of deadly force in light of the recent protests over the killing of an unarmed 17-year-old in Florida.

MUSE AND OBAMA? David Moon of Maryland Juice calls attention to the U.S. Senate campaign of state Sen. Anthony Muse, who is running against incumbent Ben Cardin and using President Barack Obama to lure supporters, even though the president has already endorsed Cardin.

6th Congressional District Race

CHALLENGING BARTLETT: The incumbent all the other candidates are chasing for the Republican nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District was noticeably absent last night, reports Pete McCarthy in the Frederick News-Post. But it did not stop the crowded field from challenging U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and his record.

WHY POORAN RUNS: Dr. Milad Pooran, who is running as a Democrat for the 6th Congressional District seat, blames the government’s fiscal straits not on entitlement programs, but on tax cuts enacted during the administration of George W. Bush and “10 years of wars that we borrowed money to fight.” He would make Medicare and Social Security solvent not through “entitlement reform” — raising the age of eligibility or cutting benefits — but by applying FICA taxes to all wages, not just the first $110,100, and also to capital gains, Matthew Hay Brown writes in the Sun.

GARAGIOLA SPEAKS: Democratic candidate and state Sen. Rob Garagiola is interviewed by Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM.

DELANEY MOMENTUM: Roll Call’s Abby Livingston reports that John Delaney is viewed as having the late momentum in the race.

MarylandReporter.com posts the full two-hour video of Sunday’s Democratic debate.

JONES TO APPEAL: Nicole Fuller of the Sun writes that an attorney for former Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones has filed a notice of appeal in county Circuit Court, in an effort to overturn a judge’s recent ruling that the County Council acted properly when it removed Jones from his seat.