June 5, 2012

State Roundup, June 5, 2012

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CRAIG SEEKS HARFORD CASINO: Harford County Executive David Craig has asked a state work group studying gambling expansion to consider Harford as a casino site despite the proximity of a slots parlor in neighboring Cecil County, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

In a letter to the chairman of the Workgroup to Consider Gaming Expansion, Craig wrote: “I feel that having two first rate gaming facilities in the area will make the Upper Chesapeake region a tourism hub, and will allow Maryland to better compete with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey for regional visitors.” Gary Haber reports the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

MARYLAND LIVE! READY: Meanwhile, writes Lorraine Mirabella in the Sun, the Maryland Lottery approved the operations license for the Maryland Live! casino late Monday, allowing the slots facility to open its first phase at 10 p.m. Wednesday as scheduled.

John Wagner blogs in the Post that the license for Maryland Live! was issued following a demonstration Saturday that tested its gaming operations, security and other systems, Lottery officials said.

More than 3,000 slot machines and about 150 seats at electronic table games will be operational Wednesday, blogs Alexander Pyles in the Daily Record.

XEROX BILLING CONTRACT: The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants to extend a contract with Xerox State Healthcare LLC to provide Medicaid billing services, as the state phases in new Medicaid policies, Sarah Gantz reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

HAGERSTOWN MIXED ON GAMBLING: Hagerstown area residents are expressing mixed feelings about seeing casino gambling expand into Western Maryland. Some worry about addictions and other problems, some want to see the tourism and tax revenue, Caleb Calhoun writes for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

BEFORE THE TOLL HIKES: The Maryland Transportation Authority will have to listen harder to the public next time it decides to raise tolls on bridges and roadways. Legislation sponsored by Sen. E.J. Pipkin established a “protocol by which the (MTA) raises tolls … and requires public comment throughout the process,” according to a Pipkin press release. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and the House, and was signed into law two weeks ago, Craig McDonnell writes for the Easton Star-Democrat.

ILLUSION OF FREE TRADE: In an op-ed in the Sun, Charles Campbell, a former Gulf Oil exec, writes that Maryland politicians are dismayed by the latest closing of the Sparrows Point steel mill and the loss of its remaining jobs, but on a broader national scale the die was cast in the 1970s, when extreme hubris in the U.S. steel and fabricating industries failed to recognize the competition from Asian countries that practice mercantilism while we live under the illusion of free trade.

PIT BULLS IN HAGERSTOWN: Following a ruling by Maryland’s highest court that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous,” Hagerstown police are proposing an ordinance that would institute certain safety measures for owners of pit bull-type dogs within city limits. It will also govern how the dogs are confined at home, and require a leash and muzzle when in public, C.J. Lovelace writes for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

O’MALLEY’S TAXING POLICY: In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Burns of Maryland Business for Responsive Government writes that O’Malley ignores the findings of his legislature’s own nonpartisan budget analysts that Maryland’s income tax burden is the second highest in the nation as a percentage of income. And that was before the latest income tax increase.

The letter was in response to a May 22 WSJ editorial that criticized O’Malley, saying that he’s providing useful instruction in the real purpose and pattern of progressive taxation, which is that sooner or later it comes after the middle class. O’Malley responded to that editorial with a May 24th letter.

BONGINO ON REAGAN: Shauna Thompson writes in the Easton Star-Democrat that Dan Bongino, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate challenging incumbent Ben Cardin, said Republicans always have won the “ideas battle” but have a history of losing the “marketing battle.” President Ronald Reagan, said Bongino before the annual Reagan Day Dinner, had a handle on both.

EQUAL PAY: The federal Paycheck Fairness Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, would give women more protection in seeking information about the salaries of their male colleagues and allow the government to enforce equal-pay standards, writes Danielle Gaines in the Gazette.

SOMERSET BUDGET: Somerset County Commissioners are scheduled to adopt a budget and set the tax rate for fiscal year 2013 during a meeting this afternoon, Liz Holland reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

FAIRNESS IN BLOGGING, REDSTRICTING: We’ve been told “Life is not fair,” but what’s “fair” when it comes to blogging and redistricting? Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com takes at look at the “fair use” flap involving Maryland Juice and a comment about the redistricting process by the Democratic Party chair.