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Published on May 14th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, May 14, 2012

SPECIAL SESSION PREVIEWS: Aaron Davis of the Post blogs that Maryland lawmakers are scheduled to meet today in a rare special session to boost taxes on residents making more than $100,000 to prevent school-funding cuts, layoffs and other austerity measures that would take effect July 1.

By many mathematical measures — dollar amounts, percentage increases and relative size — the $247 million tax plan agreed to by Gov. Martin O’Malley and top legislative leaders is relatively small, writes Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser in the Sun. But politically, there is no such thing as a small tax increase. They interview a number of residents who will feel the pinch.

The details of the tax bills appear all but set in stone, having been finalized in recent weeks during closed-door negotiations among Democratic leaders who say the bills will likely pass with few or no changes, writes David Hill in the Washington Times.

Sherrie Johnson of WMAR-TV gives a quick rundown of what to expect from the session.

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck also reports on the special session, which is expected to last three days.

Despite the large Democratic majority in both houses, Mid-Shore Republican legislators won’t be taking a passive approach to the proceedings; Sen. E.J. Pipkin wants spending kept at current levels and Sen. Richard Colburn will seek to allow bingo fundraisers in Dorchester, reports Chris Knauss of the Easton Star Democrat.

Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that unless proposed tax increases are taken out, Carroll County legislators said they won’t support passing a new state budget as they head back to Annapolis today.

The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times says that while it is crucial to Wicomico County for the special budget session, which begins tomorrow, to take place, the General Assembly should have gotten down to its work to avoid this costly need.

PIT BULL FIGHT: Are all dogs created equal? Del. Herb McMillan believes the General Assembly should answer with a resounding yes. McMillan plans to introduce his Dog Nondiscrimination Act during this week’s special session, even though legislative leaders have said nothing but the budget will be on the agenda, Erin Cox reports for the Capital-Gazette.

And two other state delegates on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum are co-sponsoring legislation that would overturn the court’s ruling: Republican Del. Michael Smigiel and Democratic Del. Heather Mizeur, blogs Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record.

CASINO WORK GROUP: In a bid to resolve some of the most difficult gambling issues left over from the last legislative session, Gov. Martin O’Malley said he would assemble an 11-member work group on casinos to undertake “a fact-driven process, aided by expert analysis,” blogs John Wagner for the Post.

CORK THIS: Courtney Pomeroy of the Frederick News-Post reports that, after nearly unanimous Senate and House votes, restaurants that have liquor licenses will soon be able to get an additional permit from their local liquor board allowing customers to bring their own wine to drink during a meal, a practice called “corkage.”

DEL. JACOBS ON GAY MARRIAGE: Daniel Menefee of the Talbot Spy sat down with Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, for a legislative wrap-up of key issues that moved through the 2012 session of the Maryland General Assembly and to discuss his opposition to same-sex marriage.

HOYER STEPS UP: U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer’s decision to support same-sex marriage could bring a powerful ally to efforts in Maryland to retain the gay marriage law in the state. The Sun’s John Fritze reports that a source close to Hoyer said that the Democratic House leader will “oppose efforts to repeal the new Maryland law.”

DEDICATED BUSES: Alex Ruoff of the Gazette writes that Gov. O’Malley has announced that the proposed 15-mile Corridor Cities Transitway to connect the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville with the Comsat property near Clarksburg will use dedicated bus lanes instead of light rail.

O’MALLEY BUMPED: Gov. O’Malley was bumped from Meet the Press yesterday when the NBC talk show scored an interview with Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, which announced a staggering $2 billion trading loss, according to the Washington Post.

OBAMA B’MORE FUNDERS: He may not be campaigning in deep-blue Maryland but President Barack Obama will be in Baltimore next month for a pair of fundraisers, according to a brief in the Sun.

O’Malley has invited his supporters to attend a June 12 fundraiser for President Obama in Baltimore, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.

LT. GOV. HONORED: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who heads the governor’s economic development team, has been named Distinguished Leader of the Year for Minority Business by the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors, Alexander Pyles writes in the Daily Record.

STOCK ACT & 6th DISTRICT: Madeline Marshall of Capital News Service writes in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail that the battle for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District this fall will pit a millionaire corporate investor against a wealthy landowner — occupations that the new STOCK Act will allow voters to examine more deeply as they decide who will represent them.

HENSON VERDICT: Political consultant Julius Henson may have written the automated message that encouraged Democrats to stay home from the polls on Election Day 2010, but he didn’t force voters to believe it, jury foreman Renee Johnson said Friday. The jury convicted him on just one count of conspiracy but finding him not guilty on three other charges, Yvonne Wenger reports in the Sun.

The editorial board for the Sun opines that political consultant Julius Henson deserved to be held to account for his role in producing a fraudulent robocall on the night of the 2010 gubernatorial election that was clearly designed to prevent Democrats — and in particular, African-American voters — from going to the polls.

‘TEMPORARY’ MO CO LAWS: Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner reports that Montgomery County lawmakers have a long history of passing laws that were extended long after their expiration dates. In the last 25 years, county lawmakers have passed at least 90 bills that were supposed to be temporary. But in most cases, they were kept on the books.

PRAYERS FOR CARROLL: The Sun’s Mary Gail Hare reports that a Carroll County commissioner has emailed an invitation to about 850 government employees to attend a monthly prayer session, which she will lead, raising concern among some residents and watchdog groups.

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