April 3, 2012

State Roundup, April 3, 2012

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RAISE SALES TAX: In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Gov. Martin O’Malley suggested raising the state’s 6% sales tax another cent if the extra revenues are dedicated to Maryland’s transportation needs, Hayley Peterson reports.

BUDGET FIGHT: WBFF-TV’s John Rydell reports on the budget battle that continues in the State House.

WINDING DOWN IN ANNAPOLIS: Big-ticket items in Annapolis such as the fiscal year 2013 budget and offshore wind construction have yet to receive final votes and smaller bills with big importance to Lower Shore lawmakers are also still making their way to the governor’s desk, Jennifer Shutt reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

WIND RALLY: Greg Masters of the Post writes that Gov. Martin O’Malley addressed a cheering crowd of offshore wind supporters last night in Annapolis, kicking off a boisterous rally that had hundreds of miniature windmill-wielding citizens forming a glow-in-the dark circle around the State House.

Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com reports that the bill would allow for construction of 40 wind turbines 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City by 2017. It would also cap the household surcharge at $1.50 per 1000 kilowatt-hours, while businesses would pay a surcharge of 1.5% of total consumption.

TAX CREDIT FOR R&D: Legislation that would subject tax credits for research and development, biotechnology investment and other activities to automatic termination every five years — unless re-enacted by lawmakers — was amended by both the state House and Senate to exclude the automatic termination clause, Kevin James Shay writes in the Gazette.

CIGARETTE SMUGGLING: Lawmakers are considering harsher penalties for smuggling cigarettes into Maryland, a crime the state’s comptroller says needs a stronger deterrent, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette.

FLUSH TAX: As the lid closes on the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers will likely double the flush tax from $30 to $60 to cover a projected $385 million shortfall in the Bay Restoration Fund, but some lawmakers say the tax hike aims to cover repeated raids on the fund that triggered a downgrade by Moody’s Investor Service 14 months ago, Daniel Menefee writes in MarylandReporter.com.

STATE VS. LOCAL CONTROL: The Sun editorial board writes that local leaders may feel oppressed by the General Assembly this year, but in many cases, lawmakers are merely standing up for broader public interest.

SHORE SPORTS BILL: The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow on legislation to allow St. Michaels High School students to play sports at Easton High, if that sport is not offered at St. Michaels, Chris Knauss reports in the Easton Star Democrat.

APPEAL OF GUN-TOTING RULING: The Maryland Attorney General’s office filed a notice yesterday in federal court outlining plans to appeal a recent ruling that significantly widens access to gun-carry permits throughout the state, Tricia Bishop reports in the Sun.

TRACK LOSSES CUT: The Maryland Jockey Club, the financially strapped operator of the state’s major thoroughbred racetracks, substantially cut its losses last year thanks to state slots subsidies, but still falls short of becoming financially stable.

ELECTION DAY: While much of the nation’s focus in the presidential race will be on Wisconsin, Maryland Republicans will offer up to 37 delegates to one of the candidates in today’s primary, John Fritze and Matthew Hay Brown report in the Sun. Voters could help solidify Mitt Romney’s front-runner status or potentially alter the course of the race by surprising pundits and backing another candidate.

Margie Hyslop of the Gazette does a roundup for Election Day.

MD MATTERS IN GOP PRIMARY? The Republican presidential primary has become a dog fight for delegates to the August convention, putting Maryland in an unfamiliar situation — it actually matters, writes Madeline Marshall of the Capital News Service in the Annapolis Capital.

GINGRICH RETURNS: GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich canvassed Frederick yesterday in advance of today’s presidential primary election, spoke to enthusiastic supporters at the Frederick Motor Co. and later discussed challenges of the next generation with Hood College students, Blair Ames writes in the Frederick News Post.

David Dishneau of the AP also followed Gingrich around yesterday. His story appears in the Salisbury Daily Times.

DEMS CALL ON LT. GOV. Need a rebuttal to presidential candidate Mitt Romney on military affairs or veterans’ issues? Insert Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Democrats have turned to Brown, the nation’s highest-ranking elected politician to have served a tour of duty in Iraq, to help return fire on Romney’s support of the austere federal spending plan, Aaron Davis reports in the Post.

6th CONGRESSIONAL: With less than 24 hours before Maryland voters head to the polls, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s campaign is denying involvement in a last-minute negative hit on one of his chief Republican primary rivals, state Sen. David Brinkley, Ben Pershing blogs in the Post.

1st CONGRESSIONAL: David Moon at Maryland Juice offers up a last minute flyer from John LaFerla, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st. The flyer contrasts his stands of issues of particular interest to women with those of Harris’.

U.S. SENATE: David Moon also says that his Maryland Juice readers are reporting that the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (aka NOM) is robo-polling voters on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Anthony Muse.

PREPPING FOR VOTERS: Machines were dropped off last night to the polling places throughout Frederick County, and all last-minute preparations were finalized. Even a generator was brought to the election board’s warehouse in case of a power failure, Pete McCarthy reports for the Frederick News Post.

With hours to go before primary election day, employees at the Washington County Board of Elections office spent a busy Monday issuing supplies to poll workers and answering last-minute questions from voters, Heather Keels reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

A JOURNEY BACK TO WWII: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com accompanies his father, Sgt. Leonard Lazarick Sr., to the National Museum of the Pacific to remember the invasion of Okinawa 67 years ago. It was the largest amphibious invasion by American troops in World War II, and Sgt. Lazarick was there and continues to share his memories of those battles.

PG ANTI-GAMBLING PUSH: Gerron Levi, a former Prince George’s delegate turned anti-gambling activist, is planning a push this week to highlight opponents’ views that bringing gambling to the county is a bad deal, Miranda Spivack blogs in the Post.

LINING UP CITY ELECTION SCHEDULE: The General Assembly last night put the final touch on a measure that delays Baltimore’s next local election by a year — aligning the city’s voting cycle with the presidential schedule and allowing a one-time, five-year term for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city officials, Annie Linskey and Julie Scharper report in the Sun.

ARUNDEL LEOPOLD PROBE: The Anne Arundel County Police Department’s second in command told the Anne Arundel County Council last night that he has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate alleged police misconduct related to a criminal indictment against County Executive John Leopold, Nicole Fuller reports in the Sun.

Fuller also reported that the state ACLU has sharply criticized Anne Arundel County, claiming that it failed to release files related to an “enemies list” or political “dossiers” allegedly compiled by members of Leopold’s security detail — though the county says it has made public everything it can under the law.

During his hour and a half long testimony, Deputy Chief Emerson Davis spoke candidly about the police department and said his boss, police Chief James Teare, is unable to lead it effectively, Allison Bourg writes in the Annapolis Capital.