June 6, 2012

State Roundup, June 6, 2012

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BUSINESS FUNDS FROM CASINOS: Hanah Cho of the Sun reports that nearly two years after Maryland’s first casino opened, the state has yet to dole out any of the $3.6 million in slots revenue that has accumulated for small, minority- and women-owned businesses, frustrating advocates and lawmakers. In a letter to the governor, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden asked, “What’s taking so long?”

GAMING EXPANSION: The performance of the Anne Arundel County casino could be a factor in the state’s decision to expand gaming, according to a story on WBAL-TV. Last week, the governor’s 11-member gambling work group heard a strong appeal from Maryland Live owner David Cordish not to expand.

Maryland Live! Casino will open tonight in Hanover at the Arundel Mills Mall and casino officials say it’s the closest thing to being in Las Vegas without actually traveling there, Megan Pringle reports for WMAR-TV.

The Maryland Live! Casino would be the only facility to lose gross revenue if a casino is built at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, according to an analysis sent to a state gambling work group, but every casino operator in the state would net a larger profit than they would under current law, blogs Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

CASINOS’ TAKE UP: Maryland’s two casinos took in about $14.6 million in May, with both facilities’ revenues increasing compared with a year ago, Steve Kilar of the Sun reports.

CASINO SECURITY: Tim Pratt of the Capital-Gazette writes that security will be tight in and around the Maryland Live! casino, which opens tonight.

ADVANCE DIRECTIVES: Writing in an op-ed in the Sun, Del. Dan Morhaim, who is also the only physician in the state legislature, explores two organ donation situations and says that advance medical directives should become an ordinary paperwork task, as routine as renewing a driver’s license or filing a tax return – even for young people.

NANNY STATE: From child safety seats to texting while driving to redefining “rich,” Marta Mossburg draws a picture of Maryland as Nanny State in the Frederick News-Post.

DEL. ALSTON ON TRIAL: On the first day of trial, prosecutors are contending that state Del. Tiffany Alston used public dollars to pay an employee of her law office after the bank closed her law firm’s depleted account. But, writes Andrea Siegel in the Sun, Alston’s attorney countered that the employee did work as a legislative clerk last January for the freshman delegate and that politics are driving the charges.

Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette reports that outside the courtroom, Alston’s attorney said that the investigation against Alston began two days after an Oct. 15 meeting of the state Legislative Black Caucus, during which Alston helped stall a vote on Gov. O’Malley’s legislative redistricting plan. Alston had been critical of the plan.

A separate case is also pending against Alston on charges that include improperly using $3,560 in campaign funds to pay for her wedding expenses. A trial on those charges is scheduled for October, writes John Wagner in the Post.

INMATE RACIAL GAP: Kristi Tousignant of the Daily Record reports that about 74% of inmates in Maryland’s prisons are black — a racial gap one state committee wants to close, though it does not yet know how.

Law enforcement, policymakers and justice advocates said Monday that excessive incarceration of blacks and other people of color is not only a moral injustice but doesn’t make economic sense for taxpayers, Dana Amihere writes for MarylandReporter.com.

BROCHIN ON INNER HARBOR CRIME: State Sen. Jim Brochin, echoing Del. Pat McDonough, is calling on the state police to help beef up city police patrols at the Inner Harbor, reports Meghan McCorkell for WJZ-TV.

PROTESTING YOUNG RUN: The Frederick News-Post is reporting that nearly 80 people protested Blaine Young’s possible run for governor during his fund-raiser yesterday.

EQUAL PAY FAILS: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s proposal to expand equal-pay protections for female workers failed to clear a procedural vote in the Senate yesterday, ending the measure’s chances but opening a potential Democratic attack line in this year’s election, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

The Paycheck Fairness Act fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to advance it to the Senate floor for debate. Fifty-two Democrats voted for the bill, while all 47 Republicans voted against it, Susan Ferrechio reports in the Washington Examiner.

ILLEGAL ACCESS: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is saying that public records show that employees of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold improperly accessed databases to gather information on at least three people on an “enemies” list. Leopold was indicted March 2 on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of misappropriation of county funds.

Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette quotes Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, as saying: “A database search is not supposed to be done without proper authority, and we don’t think compiling a dossier is a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”