July 5, 2012

State Roundup, July 5, 2012

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DRUG TREATMENT FUNDING: A dramatic change in how Maryland pays for substance abuse treatment programs is leaving some providers short on cash and displacing more than 200 drug and alcohol addicts, even as the state’s four-year transition to a new funding system has significantly increased the number of people getting help, reports Yvonne Wenger for the Sun.

BLAME FOR PEPCO RESPONSE: The top utility regulators in Maryland and the District accepted a measure of the blame for the lingering power outages that have plagued the region for years, saying they did not move swiftly enough to hold Pepco to higher standards for delivering power and restoring service, report Joe Stephens and Mary Pat Flaherty of the Post. Douglas Nazarian of the Maryland Public Service Commission said, “We didn’t pick up early enough on the need for comprehensive reliability regulations. . . . You can call us on that one.”

Steve Fermier of WBAL-AM reports that Nazarian is planning to make a statement and take questions at a news conference this morning, but is not expected to issue any comments about the performance of the utiltity companies in dealing with the outages.

SPECIAL SESSION BOYCOTT: The odds of a Maryland special legislative session next week on expanded gambling have grown long, but at least one delegate won’t be there if it happens, blogs John Wagner of the Post. Del. Glen Glass (R-Harford) announced Tuesday that he plans to boycott such a session if Gov. Martin O’Malley calls one.

Here’s Glass’s announcement of his boycott, printed in The Dagger.

$1 MILLION A DAY: As Maryland politicians wrangle over holding a special session to expand gambling, the state’s newest casino surged out of the gate, reporting revenue of more than $1 million a day in its first month, or nearly 70% of the state’s total gaming revenue in June, write the Sun’s Steve Kilar and Michael Dresser.

The Post’s John Wagner writes that officials from the Cordish Cos., which owns and operates the Anne Arundel County venue, said that more than 500,000 people visited Maryland Live! during its first 24 days of operation.

NO TO TAX BREAK: The editorial board for the Sun agrees with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance: Don’t give gaming companies a big tax break. That, the organization argues, would be a misplaced priority — unfair to Maryland residents only months after the General Assembly raised the income tax rate and bad for the economy.

YES TO TABLE GAMES: In an op-ed in the Sun, Martin Knott of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. writes that Maryland’s casinos need table games to compete with neighboring states. And we need them as soon as possible.

STRENGTH THROUGH DREAM: In an op-ed for the Post, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown writes that Maryland needs the Dream Act because success is not a zero-sum game. In cities and towns throughout Maryland, each of us is strengthened when all of us succeed, and we all suffer when members of our communities are kept from reaching their potential.

David Moon at Maryland Juice posts a video from Educating Maryland Kids with statements from a number of undocumented students who are stepping forward to urge Marylanders to support the Dream Act this November.

MOST SIGNERS FROM ARUNDEL: Anne Arundel County voters led the state in petitioning the new congressional district boundaries to a referendum in November. Out of 65,722 signatures collected, 13,514 — just under 21% — are from county residents, reports Earl Kelly for the Capital-Gazette. Baltimore County came in second with 10,389 voters signing the petition.

A+ FROM MBRG: Republican members of the Maryland General Assembly, as usual, got A-pluses from Maryland Business for Responsive Government in its annual Roll Call report, but some Democrats improved their scores as well, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

EXTRA YEAR IN OFFICE: Baltimore activists say they’re launching a campaign to vote down a change to the city charter that would push local elections back one year — effectively giving the mayor and others an extra year in office. In April, the General Assembly approved moving city elections to the presidential cycle instead of the gubernatorial cycle — which is two years earlier, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

FREDERICK LAND USE DUSTUP: Bethany Rodgers and Pete McCarthy of the Frederick News-Post report that Del. Galen Clagett is adding his voice to the ongoing disagreement between the Maryland Department of Planning and county officials over local land use.

LEOPOLD DOCUMENTS: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that Anne Arundel County police released hundreds of documents this week regarding media inquiries on topics as broad as gang investigations, cold cases and school shootings, but none of those is any use to the group looking into allegations against County Executive John Leopold, ACLU officials said.

NO RAISES IN ARUNDEL: Anne Arundel County Councilman Peter Smith pulled a bill that would have granted merit increases to members of the county’s Fraternal Order of Police union and two local chapters of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Allison Bourg writes for the Capital-Gazette.

DEFIBRILLATORS AT POOLS: The Anne Arundel County Council is requiring automatic external defibrillators at all 275 Anne Arundel County public and semipublic pools, Allison Bourg reports in the Capital-Gazette.