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Published on May 31st, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, May 31, 2012

PIT BULL PANEL: Maryland’s legislative leaders have appointed a bipartisan panel to study the impact of recent court ruling that labeled pit bulls as ‘inherently dangerous’ for liability purposes and to make recommendations about possible legislative fixes, the Sun’s Annie Linskey reports.

The decision, which stemmed from a 2007 attack on a child in Towson, has galvanized pit bull owners — and sympathetic lawmakers — who question why a single breed should be singled out for different treatment under the law, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that lawyers are asking the state’s highest court to reconsider its decision, or to at least delay it until the legislature gets a chance to act.

AFTER NCLB: The announcement that the U.S. Department of Education will grant Maryland a waiver from some of the more onerous requirements of the decade-old federal No Child Left Behind Act means Maryland will be free to set more reasonable goals for student achievement levels and adopt reforms that are necessary to close the gap between its lowest- and highest-performing schools and school districts, writes the editorial board for the Sun.

SLOTS ON THE POTOMAC? Investors are hopeful Maryland lawmakers will consider a proposal to build a slot machine parlor off the Virginia coast and over Charles County waters should they reconvene in July for a second special session to address an expansion of gaming in the state, report Jeff Newman and Daniel Leaderman in SoMDNews.com.

SLOTS REPAIR FAILS: Kevin Rector of the Sun writes that the Maryland State Lottery failed to collect tens of thousands of dollars from manufacturers who did not promptly fix inoperable slot machines, state auditors found in their first review of the agency since the start of the state’s slots program in 2010.

DEFERING SMART METERS: The Maryland Public Service Commission recently issued a temporary order that allows utility customers to defer the installation of smart meters until the commissioners can reach a permanent decision on the matter. WBAL-TV speaks with a BGE rep on how to defer that installation as well as the pros and cons of using them.

METER READING COMPLAINT: The PSC plans to hear a complaint June 20 filed by a citizens activist group claiming that Potomac Edison has failed to read meters as often as required, causing inflated bills that some customers are finding difficult to pay, Ed Waters reports in the Frederick News-Post.

ONLINE VOTING: The State Board of Elections may move to implement an online ballot marking system for all absentee voters in time for this year’s elections, Glynis Kazanjian writes for MarylandReporter.com. But some voter advocacy groups worry about the potential for fraud.

EAST BALTIMORE: Elected officials from East Baltimore want to block the $1.8 billion urban renewal project near Johns Hopkins hospital until more neighborhood residents and minority contractors are hired and displaced residents can benefit from the revitalization, Lorraine Mirabella writes in the Sun.

HEALTH WEEK: It’s Healthy Maryland Week, according to Gov. Martin O’Malley. The week, which runs from Mary 29-June 3, encourages residents to become more healthy through exercise, better food choices and preventive care, writes Meredith Cohn in the Sun. And the O’Malley administration is holding various events to highlight health and wellness along with the Coalition for a Healthy Maryland.

O’MALLEY ON THE STUMP: Gov. O’Malley plans to head to Wisconsin today to campaign in advance of that state’s high-profile gubernatorial recall election before making political stops in three northeastern states in the following days, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

LT. GOV. MARRIES: The Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown married Karmen Bailey Walker on Sunday at the Memorial Chapel on the University of Maryland campus in College Park. Political guests at the 370 person affair included Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rep. Steny Hoyer. This follows fuller coverage in the Washington Post.

DGA’S POOR CHOICE? Red Maryland’s Mark Newgent asks, “Did the nation’s Democratic governors – what’s left of them – pick the wrong guy in Martin O’Malley to lead the Democratic Governor’s Association?” Newgent then takes a look at state rankings of business climate, economic freedom and corruption, and sees many problems.

CHARACTERIZING THE CANDIDATES: Political blogger Richard Cross writes: “Looking at the four Democratic gubernatorial aspirants, and the pre-2014 positioning that is going on among them, I was wondering how best to characterize each one, and the role they will occupy on the 2014 political landscape, using the Storage Wars model.”

INTERNET SALES TAX: Most retail receipts will show how much you paid in sales tax. Order the same product online, and in many cases, it’s gone. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin says that the Marketplace Fairness Act would’ve helped Maryland capture $375 million in revenue, enough to solve the doomsday budget crisis in Annapolis and eliminate the need for the special session of the legislature, Dana Amihere writes for MarylandReporter.com.

EHRLICH HEADLINES BARTLETT FUNDER: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who has shifted his focus away from Maryland politics in recent months, will jump into the state’s most high profile race of 2012 by headlining a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett next week, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

LAW FIRM WROTE BILLS: A law firm that raised thousands of dollars for two freshman Baltimore County council members wrote “significant portions” of a bill that could benefit a client seeking to develop a contested Bowleys Quarters marina, reports Bryan Sears in Patch.com.

SPARROWS POINT FUTURE: With the Sparrows Point steel mill preparing for a shutdown next week and a possible sale, Baltimore County officials began looking for ways to redevelop the peninsula, bringing new jobs and businesses to the area around the ailing plant, writes Alison Knezevich for the Sun.

ST. MARY’S BUDGET OK’D: The St. Mary’s County government’s $211.7 million spending plan for fiscal 2013 was approved Tuesday by a 3-2 vote, Jason Babcock reports for SoMDNews.com.

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