June 15, 2012

State Roundup, June 15, 2012

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MGM CASINO FOR NATIONAL HARBOR: The developers of National Harbor are expected to announce today that Las Vegas giant MGM Resorts International would operate a luxury casino at the proposed gambling site on the Potomac River, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

John Wagner of the Post reports that several people familiar with the talks say that the developer of National Harbor is in the late stages of negotiations with MGM.

Michael Evans, MGM’s executive vice president for global development, was in Annapolis on Wednesday with National Harbor developer Milt Peterson for a meeting with Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, writes Ben Giles for the Washington Examiner.

Earl Kelly of the Capital-Gazette reports that Busch said, “I don’t think that it is seriously anything out of the ordinary, but it does put to rest the rumors that Caesars (Entertainment) will pull out of Baltimore and run National Harbor.”

YES AND NO FOR PG CASINO: In dueling op-ed columns in the Sun, Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker explains why he believes a casino at National Harbor would be good for the entire state while Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold counters that adding it would be a breach of trust following years of promises.

O’MALLEY AS GOP PUNCHING BAG: Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley has become a punching bag for Republicans, taking it on the chin from politicians, strategists, analysts and conservative commentators. By contrast, Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has not inspired the same level of vitriol from Democrats, even though, like O’Malley, he leads his party’s governors association.

CHAMBER RANKS STATE NO. 5: For the third year in a row, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has rated Maryland among the top five states in the country for economic growth, job creation and innovation, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. While Maryland does better than most of the 50 states, it ranks slightly below its nearest fierce competitor, Virginia, which the report refers to as “the emerging East Coast economic superstar.”

PIPKIN BULLY FOR PITS: Dan Divilio of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that state Sen. E.J. Pipkin plans to introduce a bill this summer negating a court decision declaring pit bulls inherently dangerous.

DATABASE RELIABILITY QUESTIONED: Maryland auditors say a database of state land acquisitions to preserve agriculture has not been tested for reliability, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

DIVIDED VIEWS OVER DREAM ACT: Many Frederick County residents, like their counterparts throughout the state, are divided over their support of a state law that would allow qualifying illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition rates, reports Nicholas Stern for the Frederick News-Post. A Maryland Court of Appeals ruling Wednesday cleared the way for voters to decide in November the fate of the Maryland Dream Act.

ELECTION LAW CRITICIZED: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that election law professor Larry Gibson said that the same Maryland law that led to the convictions of two Republican campaign operatives involved in a 2010 Election Day robocall effort to suppress voter turnout could be used against individuals who urge people to vote.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: A new form of public financing of elections is the best way to restore voters’ faith in the electoral system, advocates said this week in Annapolis, according to Danielle Gaines in the Gazette. A state panel is looking at reforms to state campaign finance laws in light of recent court decisions that loosened regulations and an increasingly contentious political environment.

301 OVERPASS: The O’Malley administration confirmed that an additional $7.8 million has been allocated for the design phase of an overpass to span the US 301/ MD 304 intersection outside of Centreville. The intersection has seen five fatalities since 2005, writes Simon Kelly for the Talbot Spy.

YOUNG BLASTS ALDERMEN: Courtney Pomeroy and Patti Borda write for the Frederick News-Post that a string of emails from Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, as taxi business owner, to Frederick city aldermen struck some of them as disrespectful and ineffective. “Oh, what a nasty email train,” said Alderwoman Karen Young, who is also married to Blaine Young’s father, who is a state senator. “The tone of his correspondence was just so inappropriate. I had to restrain myself from responding.” Blaine Young is strongly contemplating a run for governor.

Here’s a link to the unedited email exchanges.

MUSE AIDED CHURCH: State Sen. C. Anthony Muse says he and his wife mortgaged their home to help the 2,500-member church he leads ride out its financial problems, Margie Hyslop and Lindsey Robbins report in the Gazette. Muse is founder and senior pastor of Ark of Safety Christian Church, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

REPUBLICANS FOR GOVERNOR: Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar examines the field of GOP candidates running for governor in 2014.

FOLLOW CALIFORNIA: Gazette columnist Blair Lee says Maryland ought to follow California by eliminating gerrymandering and changing the system for primary elections.