April 30, 2012

State Roundup, April 30, 2012

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GOP UPSTART BEATS SCOTT: Michael Dresser reports in the Sun that a conservative activist running an insurgent candidacy against the Maryland Republican establishment seized the post of national committeewoman at the state GOP convention Saturday, beating longtime party stalwart Audrey Scott.

CHALLENGE TO STATE MAP: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that one Maryland resident believes that citizens should be represented equally in the General Assembly in Annapolis, so much that he has filed a petition with the state Court of Appeals to radically change the state’s form of government. The petition asks the court to declare unconstitutional the House of Delegates and Senate Joint Resolution that established the new legislative districts map, which created districts that crossed and split county lines. You can download a PDF of the motion to read it here.

MORE DONATION INFO: In more than 30 states, if a corporate chieftain were to ask top executives to contribute to a politician, an inquisitive voter could easily learn that the firm was bankrolling the candidate. Not in Maryland, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun. That will change as of June 1 if Gov. Martin O’Malley signs legislation approved by the General Assembly that would require campaigns to gather such information from donors who give $500 or more to a single candidate during a four-year election cycle.

PRESSURE ON FOR SPECIAL SESSION: Almost 60 groups that will be impacted by the “doomsday” budget – including teachers and public employee unions and social services organizations – have united to urge Gov. O’Malley to call a special session, Len Lazarick writes in MarylandReporter.com.

ECONOMIST BLAMES BUDGET PANEL: Economist Eileen Norcross says that Maryland’s budget would be two-thirds its size if the Spending Affordability Committee followed the spending limit guidelines that 28 other states use, Hayley Peterson writes in the Washington Examiner.

SHORE TOWNS MULL TAX HIKES: As fiscal 2013 quickly approaches, local municipal governments on the Eastern Shore are wading through budget sessions, and most are contemplating tax increases to offset plummeting property values, Sarah Lake reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PUNTING ON ROAD REPAIRS: Liz Essley of the Washington Examiner reports that Maryland and Northern Virginia need almost $2 billion more a year to catch up on transportation maintenance and construction projects, but legislatures in both states failed this year to approve the extra money despite an outcry from local governments and businesses.

PLANMARYLAND TOUTED: While concerns that the state may be usurping local planning powers still linger, land use officials from the state, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties addressed last week the controversial PlanMaryland initiative and their hopes that it eventually can work, reports Meghan Russell of SoMDNews.com.

FULL-TIME ASSEMBLY: Todd Eberly, writing in his FreeStater blog, says that the meltdown in Annapolis makes it abundantly clear is that Maryland needs to abandon its antiquated part-time legislature and adopt a full-time Assembly.

SKIP THE SESSIONS: If lawmakers in the General Assembly were to stay home and skip the special sessions, opines the editorial board for the Washington Post, the effect would be to cancel plans for a tax increase; spare the state a senseless expansion of casino gambling; eliminate some dubious spending programs; and ensure that Maryland’s $35 billion budget still manages to grow by a respectable $700 million, about 2%.

WHY A LATER START? The editorial board for the Sun argues that Comptroller Peter Franchot’s strong push to make school start after Labor Day really means that the beginning of summer vacation will be delayed as well, since, by law, there has to be at least 180 days of school.

DOVER BRIDGE FUNDS: State Sen. Richard Colburn says that funding for construction of a new Dover Bridge could hinge on what transpires during an anticipated August special session of the General Assembly, Chris Knauss reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

GREEN INPUT: The White House is seeking input from Eastern Shore businesses on what it can do to spur the Green Economy and boost jobs in that sector. Friday’s forum, writes Gail Dean of the Salisbury Daily Times, is one of 100 being held throughout the country.

RULING AGAINST PIT BULLS: WBAL-TV reports that, in the opinion written by retired Court of Appeals Judge Dale Cathell, Maryland’s highest court has decided that owners of pit bulls or a pit bull mix — in addition to anyone designated to handle the dog on behalf of the owner — who knows the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull is liable for damages if the dog attacks someone.

FROM DOG-WALKER TO STATE OFFICIAL: Victor Zapana of the Post reports about Peter Fosselman, who a decade ago owned a dog-walking service. Today, he is Kensington’s mayor and an official in Democratic O’Malley’s administration. Zapana explains how he got there and the details some missteps along the way.

O’MALLEY’S 1812 OVERTURE: It’s not quite as big as playing at the White House, but Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Celtic rock band has been booked on June 17 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as part of Maryland’s War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

BA CO ENDS DNA COLLECTION: Baltimore County police said they have stopped collecting DNA samples from suspects arrested and charged with certain violent crimes, following the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling last week that part of a state law that allows law enforcement to collect DNA from anyone arrested for a crime of violence is unconstitutional, writes Ron Snyder of Towson Patch.

MORE LIQUOR LICENSES: More restaurant owners in Baltimore County could get liquor licenses under a measure passed in Annapolis that’s set to take effect within the next few months, Alison Knezevich writes for the Sun.

SUPPORTING CHARTER GOV’T IN FREDERICK: A majority of state lawmakers representing Frederick County voiced support for switching to a charter form of government at a Friday meeting of local business leaders, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News-Post.

OFFICIALS PROTEST CUTS TO NONPROFITS: While Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young wants to zero out county funding to nonprofits, many of which help the poor, other commissioners are protesting the cuts, writes Nicholas Stern for the Frederick News-Post.

HO CO COMBATS HOMELESSNESS: Although Howard County remains one of the most affluent counties in the nation and has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, Jessica Anderson reports in the Sun, the number of homeless people has increased over the past year, prompting a push to increase assistance through the county’s plan to end homelessness.