State Roundup, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012 at 7:50 am

DREAM ACT: A day after advocates for undocumented immigrants made a last-ditch effort to keep Maryland’s Dream Act from the November ballot, the state’s Court of Appeals did the opposite yesterday, clearing the way for Maryland’s first referendum on a state law in 20 years, reports Aaron Davis in the Post.

“This is a great victory for the voters of the state,” said Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican, who worked to bring the issue to referendum, writes Nicholas Stern for the Frederick News-Post.

LLC DONATION LOOPHOLE: Maryland officials say they are drawing closer to closing a campaign-finance loophole that has allowed owners of limited liability companies to give millions in extra donations to state political candidates, reports David Hill for the Washington Times.

CASINOS SEEK SLOTS BREAK: Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner writes that lost on the debate over an expansion of gambling in Maryland are efforts by casino operators to reduce the share of revenue collected by the state from slot machines, which some call an “unsustainable” tax on the casino business.

EDITORIALS ON GAMBLING’S FUTURE: The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times questions state projections on the take that gambling – and its expansion into more casinos and table games – will bring into state coffers, especially since gambling is so new to the state and gamblers are fickle customers.

The key problem with the Department of Legislative Services analysis is that it considers a scenario that nobody wants: the addition of a sixth casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County under the same 67% tax rate that is currently in effect for four of the state’s five casinos, plus the legalization of table games at a 20% tax rate. But the National Harbor developers are asking for a lower tax rate on slots to build a high-end “destination casino” on the banks of the Potomac, opines the editorial board for the Sun.

ARTICLES ON GAMBLING’S FUTURE: After the DLS released a study that says the state could support expansion of gaming to a sixth facility, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker again expressed his support of expansion, writes Greg Bianco for the Baltimore Business Journal.

But in his role on the state Work Group to Consider Gaming Expansion, Del. Frank Turner has indicated he hasn’t changed his mind about the need to let the five authorized casinos — approved by voters in 2008 — get up and running before the state approves a sixth, reports Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times.

Harford County Executive David Craig testified in Annapolis Tuesday about his desire for a possible riverboat casino to help the county offset the steep cost of teacher pensions and other rising education costs. But some wondered why Craig was suddenly supportive of gambling for Harford after opposing it when the potential presented itself six years ago, Bryna Zumer writes in the Aegis.

BUT FIRST – GAMBLING’S PAST: Alexander Pyles, blogging in the Daily Record, reminds readers why Maryland proposed to institute gambling in the first place. Do you remember?

STATE TAX & FEDERAL CODE: The federal tax code gives Maryland yet another incentive to raise taxes on $100,000-plus earners and their families by making it painless for those taxpayers. The federal tax code allows taxpayers to write off their state and local taxes from their federal taxable income. The more Maryland taxes federal employees, the less money Uncle Sam can require from them in taxes, writes Sean Kennedy of the Maryland Public Policy Institute.

JUVIE TREATMENT: The Juvenile Services Department’s so-called “Maryland model” aims to reduce reliance on out-of-state treatment facilities for children sentenced in juvenile court. But it has set aside about $8.5 million to send less than a score of them to centers across the United States within the next three years, writes Dana Amihere for MarylandReporter.com.

SHALE STUDY: A panel studying the impact of natural gas drilling in Western Maryland is getting more time to produce its second set of recommendations. Chairman David Vanko said that Gov. Martin O’Malley has given the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission until Dec. 31 to produce a draft report on the best practices used elsewhere to extract gas by hydraulic fracturing, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

HENSON GETS JAIL: Political consultant Julius Henson, who wrote the 2010 Election Day robocall that prosecutors said was designed to suppress black votes, was led from a Baltimore courthouse in handcuffs yesterday after being sentenced to 60 days in jail and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

And the editorial board for the Sun questions the disparity of sentencing between Henson and Paul Schurick, the campaign manager for ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich: The person who carried out the so-called “Schurick doctrine” — a plan to suppress turnout among African-American voters — got a tougher sentence than the man who supposedly devised it. And further fueling inevitable questions about this disparity is that Henson is black and Schurick is white.

BARTLETT CAMPAIGN REPORT: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has once again drawn the attention of the Federal Election Commission for inaccurately filing campaign finance reports. The 10-term congressman has had 49 such notifications, the second highest number of any member of Congress since 2003, according to Roll Call. The latest inaccuracies appear in a March 31 pre-primary report, Katherine Heerbrant writes for the Gazette.

OBAMA ENCOURAGES GAYS: Aaron Davis blogs in the Post that President Obama never uttered the words gay, same-sex or marriage, but during the loudest crescendo of applause Tuesday in a fundraising swing through Maryland – in which he raised about $2 million – everyone seemed to know just what he meant.

GAY SPOUSAL BENEFITS: Washington County is extending spousal benefits to county employees married to same-sex spouses, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Lambda Legal said yesterday that the change will take effect in July, and a county official confirmed the change.

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