State Roundup, May 1, 2012

May 01, 2012 at 7:57 am

RELIGIOUS LEADERS URGE SESSION: More than 30 religious leaders called on Maryland’s political leaders yesterday to conduct a special session without further delay, arguing cuts from the so-called “doomsday” budget would hurt the state’s low-income residents and vulnerable populations, writes Danielle Gaines in the Gazette.

SWAIM-STALEY STEPS DOWN: Aaron Davis blogs in the Post that one of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s most powerful cabinet secretaries is stepping down after nearly three years on the job. Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, the first woman to lead Maryland’s sprawling transportation agency, will leave her post at the end of June.

TOLL WORKERS WANT UNION: Employees of the Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates the state’s toll bridges and tunnels, have kicked off a campaign for union representation even though the governor has yet to sign the bill authorizing collective bargaining at their agency, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

BILL WOULD RAISE SCHOOL AGE: Maryland’s state legislature approved a bill that would gradually increase the age for compulsory public school attendance from 15 to 17 years old by the 2017-18 school year, but the governor has not signed the bill because it has financial implications that need to be reviewed after a state budget agreement is settled, reports Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

MOE EFFECTS: Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian says that the new Maintenance of Effort law, signed by Gov. O’Malley on April 10, takes away local control of education and discourages giving more to the school system when times are good – because allocating more than MOE sets a new minimum funding level for subsequent years when times aren’t so good, reports Daniel Menefee for Chestertown Spy.

GOP FIGHT GOOD FOR GOP: The editorial board of the Sun opines that Maryland’s Republican Party got a nasty internecine fight at its annual convention over the weekend leading to the election of a heretofore little known, 37-year-old Baltimore woman, Nicolee Ambrose, as national committeewoman. This may actually be a positive sign for those who dream that Maryland could have a viable two-party system.

RX POT SUPPORT: Supporters continue to push for legalizing medical marijuana in Maryland, saying that it will help save lives, reports Vic Carter for WJZ-TV.

PIT BULL RULING: WBAL-TV’s Lisa Robinson reports that a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling issued last week clears the way for a Towson family’s lawsuit against the owner of a pit bull that bit their son in 2007.

ATTY GEN NO TAKERS? Despite the fact that Attorney General Doug Gansler is almost certain to run for governor in 2014, very few people are talking publicly about their interest in his job. More ambitious Democrats are lining up to run for comptroller — even though the incumbent, Peter Franchot, is not as sure a bet as Gansler to move on and seek the big prize in two years, writes Josh Kurtz in Center Maryland.

BARTLETT & HARRIS: David Moon at Maryland Juice rounds up some stories about U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s contentious race for re-election as well as some comments and commentary about U.S. Rep. Andy Harris.

HENSON ROBO CASE: Ben Mook of the Daily Record reports that political advisor Julius Henson, on trial for his part in an election robocalling conspiracy, lost his bid to have the prosecution dismissed and key evidence thrown out but won the right to argue that the case against him is politically motivated.

PROBE INTO WICOMICO COUNCILMAN: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Maryland State Police have launched an investigation into Wicomico County Councilman Bob Culver, after a female member of his immediate family filed a protection order Friday in Wicomico County District Court.

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