May 30, 2012

State Roundup, May 30, 2012

Print More

TWICE THE SIGNATURES: Activists working to repeal Maryland’s same-sex marriage law have collected more than twice the signatures needed for a referendum — likely ensuring that the measure will be on the ballot for voters to decide in November, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

The group leading the charge to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law said that since President Obama announced he backed same-sex marriage — and since leaders of the NAACP followed suit — opponents in Maryland have seen a surge in the number of residents seeking to put gay marriage to a statewide vote, Aaron Davis reports in the Post.

“Every single day we have gotten more and more momentum,” said Derek McCoy, director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance. Pamela Wood of the Capital-Gazette also reports the story.

Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner reports that the signatures must be verified by the State Board of Elections, but the surplus of names all but ensures it will go before voters in the fall — adding even more significance to a presidential election in which social issues received greater prominence after President Obama publicly endorsed same-sex matrimony.

WMAR-TV reports that MacArthur Flournoy with Marylanders for Marriage Equality said, “The collection of those signatures does not reflect the growing momentum among Maryland voters. The truth of the matter is that our opponents have lost ground.”

YOUTH TREATMENT: The Sun editorial board opines that, a decade after overcrowded youth detention centers were recognized as a serious problem, why hasn’t the Department of Juvenile Services moved more quickly to add enough residential treatment beds to meet the need?

BAD HABITS: In an op-ed in the Sun, Ron Wineholt of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, writes that over the past 20 years, Maryland governors and General Assemblies have developed a bad habit of stuffing loosely related spending and tax provisions into a catch-all bill called the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, or BRFA. The recent special session saw not only that but also a State and Local Revenue and Financing Act packed with multiple forms of tax increases.

TIME FOR DGA: During the first three months of this year’s legislative session, Gov. Martin O’Malley scheduled as much time for the Democratic Governors Association as for testifying on bills, meeting with legislators and courting Maryland’s political leaders, Erin Cox writes for the Capital-Gazette. For every hour O’Malley booked for those tasks, he also blocked out an hour for the DGA — not counting travel time.

GAMBLING GALORE: National Harbor, the sprawling, gleaming development along the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, boasts expensive stores, a half-dozen hotels, highway access and convention traffic — a combination that has sold many on the idea that it could become Maryland’s most lucrative casino location, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

Sun reporter Steve Kilar and videographer Kevin Richardson take readers inside the sprawling Maryland Live! casino in Anne Arundel County that is set to open June 6.

You can also take a tour with John Rydell of WBFF-TV.

John Wagner of the Post reports that next week’s opening could factor heavily into Round 2 of the state’s gambling debate. That centers over whether there are enough gamblers in the region to add a sixth venue, most likely at National Harbor in neighboring Prince George’s County.

Throughout the Maryland Live! casino last week, groups of new employees walked about, their eyes scanning the massive slots facility for landmarks, writes Tim Pratt for the Capital-Gazette.

Maryland law may not allow table games at casinos, but operators of the state’s newest and largest slots facility will offer a high-tech alternative when its doors open next week, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette. Automated versions of blackjack, roulette, baccarat and other games will offer a nearly identical experience to standard table games, but don’t require a live dealer.

THE BAND PLAYED: While O’Malley’s March played inside the Rams Head in Annapolis on Monday, people protested a casino in Prince George’s outside. Even so, blogs John Wagner in the Post, it gave the governor and his band a chance to get away from their day jobs.

GIFTS FOR THE GOV: Hoodies, ties, a Turkish urn, a complete football uniform and books, lots of books. This is just a sample of the gifts Gov. O’Malley listed as receiving in his latest disclosure form, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

IF YOUNG RUNS: Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young, who says he is testing the political waters in considering a run for governor, would likely face Harford County Exec David Craig and Larry Hogan in a Republican primary, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Young acknowledges a Republican governor would likely be at loggerheads with Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post. As he gears up for a possible 2014 run, Young said he will not be advocating for action in Annapolis. Instead, his campaign message will push the concept of a healthy stalemate.

NO CHILD WAIVER: Maryland was one of eight states granted a waiver yesterday from some of the strictest requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which will allow the state to set more reasonable goals for student achievement levels and adopt reforms to close the achievement gap, reports the Sun’s Erica Green.

Alisha George of the Carroll County Times reports that the waiver will help Carroll County schools achieve their goals.

MCDONOUGH WANTS DEBATE: Del. Pat McDonough continues to press his complaints about what he has called “black youth mobs” in Baltimore by calling on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to debate him on television, Bryan Sears reports for Patch.com.

HENSON FINED $1M: Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports that political consultant Julius Henson must pay the state $1 million for putting out 112,000 robocalls intended to discourage black voters from going to the polls on Election Day 2010, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

LEAVING THE SCENE: A driver who struck and killed a Maryland Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 has been convicted of failing to remain at the scene of an accident, according to an AP report in the Sun.