State Roundup, May 4, 2012

May 04, 2012 at 8:27 am

DOUBLE-EDGED SESSION: An expected special session of the General Assembly could be a double-edged sword for counties that stand to gain revenues, but could also face millions in new costs, reports David Hill in the Washington Times. Legislators will return to finish business from its regular session, passing legislation that would raise income taxes and undo more than $500 million in reductions that resulted when lawmakers failed to pass two budget bills last month.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV heads to the streets of Towson to talk with festival goers about the possibility of taxes being raised during the special session.

PROGRESS ON SESSION: Speaker Michael Busch and key members of his House Democratic leadership team met with Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday morning, and Busch reported that more progress had been made toward laying the groundwork for the special session, blogs Michael Dresser in the Sun.

GAMBLING ADVISORY PANEL: Gov. O’Malley could soon create a commission to advise the legislature about a possible gambling expansion, an issue that factored into the collapse of Maryland’s 90-day session, writes John Wagner in the Post. Speaker Busch said that O’Malley has talked about issuing an executive order to set up the 11-member commission to present recommendations this summer that could be the basis for a second special legislative session in July or August.

TRES AMIGOS: There was some other big news out of the State House, blogs Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record. When Gov. O’Malley, Senate President Mike Miller and Speaker Busch met for breakfast last week, the trio had huevos rancheros, a Mexican breakfast dish that includes fried eggs on lightly fried corn tortillas, topped with tomato-chili sauce.

CARROLL ON SESSION: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that questions about new taxes, teacher pensions and gambling remain for the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and Carroll County delegations to the General Assembly as state legislators plan for upcoming special sessions.

O’MALLEY DEFFENDS ACA: In an op-ed for the Sun, O’Malley opens up the toolbox that makes up the federal Affordable Care Act and explains how each tool helps Marylanders’ health care.

AUDIT OF NOTE – NO PROBLEMS: Legislative auditors reviewing $2.6 billion of spending that went through the transportation secretary’s office found absolutely nothing, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. And, during the Board of Public Works meeting, praise abounded for Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, who is stepping down after three years.

BIKESHARE GRANT FOR UM: The state will provide the University of Maryland and College Park with a $375,000 grant to install eight bicycle stations from the Capital Bikeshare program, a public-private partnership founded in 2010 that features more than 1,200 bikes in 140 stations in Washington and Arlington, Va. the editorial board of the Diamondback says it’s great news for the city and university, both of which have applied — and been rejected — for numerous bike-sharing grants in past years,

GARAGIOLA REPRIMANDED: State Sen. Rob Garagiola, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, has been sent a letter of reprimand from a state ethics committee for failing to disclose income he received as a lobbyist on state disclosure forms, blogs John Fritze in the Sun. The issue was a frequent point of attack for his leading opponent, John Delaney, who won the race.

Garagiola has acknowledged that he didn’t include certain work-income information on his required legislative ethics forms, but said the omission was based on his interpretation of misleading wording on the form, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

SOCIAL SERVICES WORKERS LAUDED: Citing the “bravery of two” but noting the “valor of all” of their colleagues, the state’s governor and city’s mayor lauded two workers who helped save an infant being stabbed at a social services office in Baltimore, writes Peter Hermann of the Sun. Above the story is a Kenneth Lam video of the ceremony overlaid by the 911 tapes.

INNER CITY RESIDENT: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, speaking to a real estate group, told the crowd that, “I live in the inner, inner, inner-city. I’m one of the few congresspeople who live in the inner, inner city,” The Hill reported Cummings saying. “You know, I ain’t living close to the inner city, I’m right there on the ‘Do the Right Thing’ block.” Jill Rosen of the Sun blogs about the reference to the Spike Lee movie.

STATE CENTER: After the General Assembly failed to pass a bill dictating state policy on public-private partnerships, plaintiffs in the State Center lawsuit are moving forward with their case, Justin Snow writes in MarylandReporter.com. An attorney for the group of Baltimore business owners who have been suing the state since December 2010 said the amended bill’s failure to gain passage was further validation for their case.

HIGH SPEED FOR LOWER SHORE: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, speaking on the Eastern Shore, praised the possibilities that broadband will bring. The Maryland broadband network is expected to bring high-speed Internet to Lower Shore residents who have never had access to the World Wide Web, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. It is also expected to bring much faster speeds to allow businesses and educational institutions to broaden their capabilities.

LISTENING IN: Maryland’s highest court has upheld a law allowing police to listen in on cell phone calls that suspects make outside the state, a tool that authorities say is key to fighting the drug trade, writes Yvonne Wenger of the Sun.

HENSON TO TAKE STAND: The man on trial for the now infamous 2010 election night robocall tells WJZ he will testify in his own defense. Derek Valcourt has an exclusive interview with political consultant Julius Henson.

Margie Hyslop reports in the Gazette that character witnesses took the stand for Julius Henson in his trial for campaign fraud over robocalls on Election Day in 2010.

PIT BULLS: Animal shelters and rescue organizations across Maryland are bracing for an influx of surrendered pit bulls in the wake of a state high court ruling that declared the breed “inherently dangerous,” Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

DOOMSDAY BUDGET: Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette that one provision of the state’s so-called “doomsday” budget is to scrap grants to local law enforcement agencies, a move that could have drastic implications for Baltimore. According to city officials, fewer prosecutors, employee furloughs and canceled police academy classes are all possible.

GOP MOVE RIGHT: the election of 37-year-old Nicolee Ambrose over 76-year-old Audrey Scott at the state party convention last weekend signals a more aggressive push toward conservative candidates and issues, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

TESTING FOR CHEATING: The Gazette’s Danielle Gaines reports the Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a $75,292 contract modification to perform an annual in-depth analysis of pencil erasure marks on all third- through eighth-grade test booklets in the state to root out possible cheating.

DNA: Gazette columnist Blair Lee hopes the Court of Appeals ruling throwing out some DNA will go to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the serious privacy issues it raises.

SEPTIC SYSTEMS: An O’Malley administration regulation on new septic systems deliberately undermines a new law passed by the General Assembly and substantially raises the cost of new housing, writes Barry Rascovar in his Gazette column.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Peter Franchot’s elbow; Beverley Swaim-Staley’s departure; Barbara Mikulski’s postal save; Justin Ready’s baby; the James Building courtyard; and the gay marriage petition drive.

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