May 3, 2012

State Roundup, May 3, 2012

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4th DISTRICTING SUIT: Two Baltimore County senators, unhappy with their new districts under the governor’s General Assembly redistricting plan, have sued to have the map overturned, contending that it gives Baltimore City extra representation at the expense of the county, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.

Sens. Jim Brochin and Delores Kelley claim the new districts violate the Maryland Constitution and a 2002 Court of Appeals ruling that governs redistricting, Bryan Sears and Adam Bednar report for Patch.com. The suit is one of four seeking to overturn Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting plan. Here’s a copy of their filing.

The Post’s John Wagner writes that the constituencies of both Brochin and Kelley change considerably under the new map. Brochin’s district is set to become less Democratic and is expected to pose the greater challenge to his re-election.

Jon Meoli of the Towson Times quotes Brochin as saying: “Baltimore County picked up population. We should have picked up a senator. As soon as I saw the map, it just reeked of partisanship.”

Danielle Gaines of the Gazette gives an overview of the four lawsuits.

SPECIAL SESSION NEARER: Gov. Martin O’Malley and General Assembly leaders reported progress toward their goal of bringing legislators back to Annapolis for a special session to avert more than $500 million in budget cuts, writes the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

“We’re going to have an agreement done,” state Senate President Mike Miller said at the beginning of a bill signing ceremony at the State House yesterday. He mentioned May 14, 15 and 16 specifically, writes Pamela Wood for the Annapolis Capital.

House Speaker Michael Busch said he has asked his members to keep their calendars clear that week. House leaders are planning to meet with O’Malley today, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.

300 BILLS SIGNED: Gov. O’Malley signed more than 300 bills into law Wednesday, including measures hailed by environmentalists as providing new protections for the Chesapeake Bay, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

FLUSH TAX DOUBLES: O’Malley also signed legislation that will double the flush tax – to $60 — for most Marylanders, one of a host of environmental bills lawmakers say will help protect the Chesapeake Bay and the state’s agriculture industry, Ben Giles reports in the Examiner.

FUND-RAISING DISCLOSURE: The editorial board for the Sun writes that O’Malley signed what may be the most significant step toward increasing transparency in Maryland’s system of campaign finance in years: a requirement that those who contribute more than $500 to a single candidate during an election cycle list their occupation and employer. But that only brings Maryland up to some semblance of the standard the federal government has employed since the 1970s.

FACEBOOK PRIVACY: O’Malley also signed legislation that makes Maryland the first state to ban employers from asking job applicants or workers to hand over log-in information for Facebook and other social media sites, Ben Giles writes for the Washington Examiner.

HALF-WAY WITH PETITION: The group leading the charge against Maryland’s same-sex marriage law says it has collected more than half the signatures needed to put the issue on the November ballot, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

FOR DREAM ACT: The editorial board for the Diamondback is urging college students to stand up for Maryland’s DREAM Act.

INMATE HEALTH CONTRACT: Despite a strong protest, the Board of Public Works unanimously awarded a $598 million contract to provide health services to 26,000 prison inmates over the next five years to Wexford Health Sources of Pittsburgh. As prison officials advised, it rejected the bid by Corizon Inc. of St. Louis, which has been providing two-thirds of the services to the prisoners for the last seven years. writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

DNA COLLECTION NOW: If we want to use science to make criminal investigations more precise and efficient (to help police close more cases and courts send only the truly guilty to prison), then we need to buy into DNA data collection, writes Dan Rodricks in a column for the Sun.

PARTY POLITICS: David Moon of Maryland Juice recently checked out a few events around the region and bumped into a number of politicos. You can view some photos and videos from his explorations.

SARBANES ON FINANCE REFORM: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM interviews U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes on his modest campaign style and campaign finance reform.

FREDERICK BUDGET PROTEST: Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News Post that sentiments ranged between concern and disdain last night at a lengthy public hearing on a proposed Frederick County budget that many residents said lets down local schools and vulnerable residents.

CECIL BUDGET: Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig reports that Cecil County Commissioners officially released a proposed $169 million operating budget for fiscal 2013 by the May 1 deadline, amid uncertainty about a potential shift of millions of dollars of teacher pension obligations coming from the state.

POLL SAYS LEOPOLD SHOULD GO: A new poll commissioned by an Anne Arundel County police union shows a majority of county residents who are “aware” of the scandal involving County Executive John Leopold think he should resign, reports Nicole Fuller in the Sun.