April 5, 2012

State Roundup, April 5, 2012

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BUDGET TENSIONS: An exchange lasting less than nine minutes in the Maryland State House yesterday encapsulated almost every economic and partisan tension driving Maryland’s 90-day legislative session to a frantic end, blogs Aaron Davis for the Post.

Maryland lawmakers are far apart on dueling budget proposals that would raise income taxes for the state’s residents and shift hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher pension costs to local jurisdictions. Only a few dozen minor items were settled in conference committees on Monday, and lawmakers have not met since, Ben Giles reports in the Washington Examiner.

The House of Delegates passed the $1.1 billion capital budget in a 97-41 vote last night, with opponents complaining that the state is spending too much and putting its triple-A bond rating on the line, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com. The bill had already cleared the Senate, but amendments from the House committee will need to be approved before it can go to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk.

Tensions ran high in the Senate yesterday when Sen. Paul Pinsky questioned a decision by Senate President Mike Miller to delay final vote on a bill to ban arsenic in chicken feed until the end of the day’s session, Daniel Menefee writes for MarylandReporter.com. The visceral underscored the tension lawmakers are under to get their bills to a vote before the April 9 deadline, when the session is scheduled to officially end.

PITCHING WIND: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made a late-session pitch yesterday for two of his languishing priorities: measures to spur the state’s wind power industry and to raise revenue for transportation projects, John Wagner writes in the Post.

An offshore wind farm could mean opportunities for a range of small and minority-owned businesses in Maryland and Prince George’s County, Lindsey Robbins reports in the Gazette.

ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY: Former Maryland death row inmate Kirk Bloodsworth, who was exonerated in the killing of a young girl using DNA evidence, writes in the Sun that the state has once again missed the opportunity to abolish the death penalty.

CASINO BILL STALLED: The chairman of the subcommittee responsible for gaming bills said he objects to the provision that would allow casinos to add table games because the state will not collect a substantial portion of the proceeds, Earl Kelly reports in the Annapolis Capital.

SEPTIC BILL MOVES: On a  mostly partisan vote, the House Environmental Matters Committee approved a bill to govern the way septic systems are installed, reports Daniel Menefee of MarylandReporter.com. The amended bill gives final authority to local planning boards and commissions.

BRING YOUR OWN WINE: The General Assembly is poised to pass a corkage law that would allow Marylanders to bring wine from home to their favorite restaurant, club and hotel, Brian Hughes reports in the Washington Examiner.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP BILL: Administration officials affirmed their support of a bill setting down new rules for public-private partnerships, which currently includes an amendment that lets the losing party in a lawsuit appeal directly to the Court of Special Appeals, avoiding a public trial, reports Justin Snow for MarylandReporter.com.

TRANSPORTATION WISH LIST: Maryland’s top transportation priorities should include widening the Baltimore Beltway, making Route 295 six lanes near BWI Marshall Airport and building the city’s Red Line light rail, Candus Thomson of the Sun reports that a national transportation group said yesterday. The recommendations were part of a 40-item wish list compiled by a nonprofit research organization sponsored by the construction industry, insurance companies and unions.

MPT CHASTISED: Approval of two retroactive contracts for Maryland Public Television worth $162,152 were unanimously approved by the Board of Public Works yesterday, but the long-standing problems with procurement at the state agency rankled Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

PRIMARY WRAPUP: Midday with Dan Rodricks on WPYR yesterday spoke about the Maryland and Wisconsin primary results with Dave Schwartz, Maryland director, Americans for Prosperity; Herb Smith, political science professor at McDaniel College; and Cliff Cumber, Frederick News-Post editor.

1st DISTRICT STILL UP IN AIR: With a mere 124 votes separating John LaFerla and Wendy Rosen in the Democratic Primary for the 1st Congressional District, both candidates are looking to the three canvasses of absentee and provisional ballots scheduled to take place throughout the next week, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

BARTLETT LOOKS FORWARD TO RACE: Potomac businessman John Delaney was not U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s first choice as an opponent in the 6th Congressional District race, but the Republican incumbent said he looks forward to the challenge, Katherine Heerbrant reports in the Gazette.

RALLY AROUND DELANEY: For months, John Delaney ran his campaign for Congress as an outsider, writes John Fritze in the Sun. But the day after he crushed his competition for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th District, the Potomac businessman found himself lunching with two of the most powerful party leaders in the state.

OR NOT: Even as Democratic Party officials sought to present a unified front with John Delaney as their candidate to go up against incumbent U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the 6th District, it was clear a deep rift still exists with state Sen. Rob Garagiola’s many political patrons atop the state party, Aaron Davis blogs in the Post.

David Moon at Maryland Juice compiles what he called the “snarky” comments of Maryland Senate President Mike Miller about Delaney, including a suggestion that he show his tax returns.

VAN HOLLEN’S SEAT IN PLAY: The Gazette’s Kate Alexander writes that, for the first time since the 2000 redistricting, numbers indicate that the GOP could regain the 8th District now held by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, according to Mark Uncapher, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.

ELECTION DEJA VU: On election night, Maryland became a small piece in a larger national narrative about Mitt Romney’s long march toward the Republican presidential nomination. But the results in the Free State arguably tell us less about how Maryland Republicans feel about Romney than the makeup of the state party. And the results looked an awful lot like 2008, John Wagner reports in the Post.

LOWEST TURNOUT IN 32 YEARS: And the voter turnout for the presidential primary was Maryland’s lowest in at least 32 years, writes Steve Kilar in the Sun.

TRICKLE DOWN THEORY? Sun columnist Dan Rodricks speculates that Arundel County Exec John Leopold was done in by asking his staff to empty his urinary catheter bag, a request that is one step too much except for those who really, really love you.