May 21, 2012

State Roundup, May 21, 2012

Print More

SAME-SEX DIVORCE OK’D: With its slam-dunk 7-0 opinion issued Friday in the matter of two women seeking a divorce, the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that Maryland must recognize same-sex marriages legally certified elsewhere, write opinionators at the Sun. It’s a huge victory for the ongoing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland and adds a whole new dimension to this fall’s referendum.

The Court of Appeals announced its decision in the case of Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan, who were married in California in 2008 and filed for divorce in Prince George’s County two years later, reports Ellen McCarthy of the Post.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said the ruling affirms his administration’s policy of awarding full recognition to gay marriages performed out of state, reports David Hill of the Washington Times.

Maryland does not currently allow same-sex weddings, but lawyers for the women told the seven-member Court of Appeals that it would be unprecedented for the state not to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere, reports Jeff Abell for WBFF-TV.

NAACP BACKS GAY MARRIAGE: An AP report at WMAR-TV says that the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced Saturday that its board voted to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, saying the position is consistent with the equal protection provision of the U.S. Constitution.

FULL-TIME LEGISLATURE? With the memory of the messy regular session still fresh, Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that a full-time Maryland legislature would develop the same problems that our 90-day General Assembly session.

SPECIAL SESSIONS, A HISTORY: Earl Kelly of the Capital-Gazette offers up a history lesson in special sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, including one held March 4 through April 2, 1936, that cost taxpayers $75,000.

LAYING BLAME: And lawmakers continue to point fingers over what they see as either shortcomings in the system or others’ intractable stand on gambling as reasons that the special session had to be called, writes Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner.

SPECIAL SESSION NO. 2: State Sen. Jamie Raskin likens the prospect of being called back to Annapolis for a second special session to the plight of a middle school student being told on the last day of classes that he has to attend summer school, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. And many, if not most, of Raskin’s colleagues also dread the thought.

The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette addresses what will be the second special session, this one to look into Senate President Mike Miller’s insistance that gambling for Prince George’s County be allowed.

CHICKEN FEED: Gov. O’Malley is poised to sign into law recently passed legislation that bans the use of arsenic-containing drugs that are given to poultry, Darryl Fears of the Post reports.

PROMOTING SEAFOOD: Capital-Gazette business editor Jimmy DeButts interviews Steve Vilnit, who promotes Maryland’s seafood industry for the Department of Natural Resources. “Our fishermen are facing competition from Venezuela, Indonesia and China. Theirs are cheaper and the labor costs are lower,” Vilnit says.

MD SCHOOLS AREN’T TOPS: Educators and politicians rave about Maryland’s public schools. And why not? After all, Education Week has ranked Maryland public schools in first place for the past four years. But, write David Anderson and Herbert Walberg in a Sun op-ed, those who study public school achievement find, based on 2011 testing, that Massachusetts public schools are in first place, closely followed by New Jersey and Vermont, while Maryland is in sixth place.

MCDONOUGH KEEPS IT UP: Del. Pat McDonough, who stirred controversy when he said “roving mobs of black youth” terrorize Baltimore, seemed to ratchet up his rhetoric, ripping Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake while vowing to bring the issue of downtown public safety to the front burner of public consciousness with a “news conference” and other actions this week, David Zurawik writes in the Sun.

On Friday, writes Yvonne Wenger and Colin Campbell of the Sun, Del. McDonough, shrugged off criticism that he is using shock tactics to raise his political profile, saying public debate should not “demonize the messenger” but instead focus on Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s efforts to curb violence in the city.

FRANCHOT ON RUN FOR GOV: State Comptroller Peter Franchot objected to Gov. O’Malley’s tax hike. He speaks with political reporter Pat Warren of WJZ-TV about why he is considering running for governor.

McDONNELL VS O’MALLEY: The recently ended legislative sessions in Richmond and Annapolis say a lot about the future of the two state and party leaders – Gov. Robert McDonnell of Virginia and Gov. O’Malley of Maryland – and how others will define them as they seek higher office, reports the Post’s Aaron Davis and Laura Vozzella.

STOCK ACT DISCLOSURE: David Moon of Maryland Juice highlighted a Post report showing that U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett steered $4.5 million to projects benefiting property he owns. In April, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that would put a spotlight on congressional conflicts of interest. The Associated Press recently highlighted the impact this new law would have on Rep. Bartlett and his challenger, Democrat John Delaney.

CHALLENGING HOYER: David Moon of Maryland Juice is re-reporting that U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a long-serving African American congressman from South Carolina, is publicly talking about challenging Minority Whip Steny Hoyer for a leadership post – either as House Speaker or Minority Whip. Scroll to the middle of the page to read the piece.

CARROLL ETHICS FAIL: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times, in addressing Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier’s using the county email to send a message to employees publicizing a weekly prayer session, writes that, on a day when the Carroll commissioners had a chance to exhibit a strong commitment to high ethical standards, it is somewhat alarming that instead residents heard that policies in place for county employees don’t apply to them.