June 26, 2012

State Roundup, June 26, 2012

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SUPREMES AFFIRM REMAP: The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed yesterday a lower court’s ruling upholding Maryland’s new congressional redistricting plan, which counts inmates as living at their last-known addresses instead of in their prison cells, writes Tricia Bishop of the Sun. But it may not be the last word on the matter.

A petition drive aims to put the matter to a vote. The group spearheading the petition effort, mdpetitions.com, needs at least 55,736 approved signatures to get the map on the ballot for November’s general election, according to a staff and wire report in the Frederick News-Post.

If the effort makes the November ballot, it likely would join referendums on gay marriage and the state’s version of the Dream Act, reports Brian Hughes in the Washington Examiner.

BUILDERS AD PROMOTES CASINO: A coalition of labor groups is continuing to up the ante in its effort to bring a casino to National Harbor with a new television ad that began running yesterday in the Baltimore market, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

The group behind the effort — called Building Trades for the National Harbor — wants Gov. Martin O’Malley and legislative leaders to call a special session of the General Assembly to pass a law allowing a casino at the National Harbor development in Prince George’s County, Annie Linskey reports in the Sun.

POLLS SHOW SUPPORT: Union leaders renewed their push in Annapolis for a National Harbor casino, citing a new poll showing that a majority of Marylanders support the plan, reports Daniel Leaderman for the Gazette.

BALTIMORE SLOTS: The slots casino that a group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp. wants to build near M&T Bank Stadium will not be complete until the middle of 2014 at the earliest, the company’s head said, meaning the proposed facility’s timeline would be extended by at least six months, Steve Kilar reports in the Sun.

ON GAMBLING: Marc Steiner and Anthony McCarthy of WEAA-FM host former state Del. Gerron Levi, Brian Griffiths of the Maryland Young Republicans and political columnist Barry Rascovar in a discussion on gambling in Maryland.

GAY MARRIAGE FOES PETITION: A group trying to repeal Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law said they submitted 39,743 additional signatures to the state yesterday, bringing to 162,241 the number of people who asked to put the law on the November ballot, reports Annie Linskey of the Sun. The amount far surpasses the nearly 56,000 needed to trigger a referendum.

MCDONOUGH PROTESTED: A group of about 16 people brought their message of protest against Del. Pat McDonough right to the doorstep of the Pikesville radio station where the Middle River Republican hosts a Saturday night talk show, Bryan Sears reports in Patch.com.

STATE PENSION FIX: A new report provides after-the-fact validation for the Maryland legislators who have overhauled the state’s employee pension system, trimming benefits, shrinking cost-of-living increases and mandating bigger contributions from employees, opines the editorial board for the Capital-Gazette. But the report from the Pew Center on the States also confirms that Maryland — like most states — will have a long-term problem meeting its pension obligations and has taken some recent steps backward.

CROSS-STATE CRIME: Public safety officials from Maryland and the mid-Atlantic gathered in Baltimore yesterday to discuss a regional effort to share information on criminals who cross state lines, writes C. Benjamin Ford for the Gazette.

YOUNG’S RUN: In asking Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young to step away from his radio show while he actively raises money for a potential run for governor, the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post recalls earlier promises from Young that he failed to live up to.

GAS UP WITH PLASTIC: Although Maryland’s retail gas prices were lower than the national average in 2011, consumers are still getting hit at the pump — for paying with plastic rather than cash, reports Dana Amihere for MarylandReporter.com.

BARTLETT’S FINANCES: Incomplete finance reports filed by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s campaign have landed his re-election committee with 41 requests for more information since 2007 and a $5,000 fine from the Federal Election Commission, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News-Post.

CARDIN AT MML: What happens in Washington has a direct effect on how elected officials from small cities and towns end up doing their job. That’s one message delivered by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin in remarks yesterday to the annual Ocean City conference of the Maryland Municipal League, Brian Shane reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

And the Daily Times editorial board said that even though the annual event is held at the beach, the MML conference keeps town government officials’ noses to the grindstone.

LEOPOLD CHARGES: This week a judge is expected to rule on whether corruption charges against Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold should be dropped, reports Joy Lepola of WBFF-TV.

$71M SHORTFALL IN MO CO: Victor Zapana of the Post reports that Montgomery County officials are saying that the county faces a $71 million shortfall for the fiscal 2014 budget for public safety, transportation and other government agencies.

Some county lawmakers are blaming a new state education funding law for the shortfall. The law imposes strict penalties on counties that do not maintain their levels of per-student funding and effectively requires Montgomery County to give the county school system $30 million more in fiscal 2014 than in fiscal 2013, Rachel Baye reports for the Washington Examiner.

FREDERICK CHARTER: Pete McCarthy of the Frederick News-Post reports that the state’s top court has ruled that Frederick County was correct to strike down a petition drive that would have required a special election to decide who writes the county government charter draft.

Meanwhile, reports McCarthy for the News-Post, residents will get their last chance to speak out on the proposed charter that could define Frederick County government on Wednesday night.

MARC TIMETABLE: Nearly seven months after the Maryland Transit Administration released a list of proposed schedule changes for the Brunswick MARC line, officials have settled on a third and final version of the new timetable, Courtney Pomeroy reports for the Frederick News-Post.