Published on July 11th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie1
State Roundup, July 11, 2012
BURY SOME LINES: Gov. Martin O’Malley joined in calling for Maryland’s utilities to explore burying at least some of their overhead power lines in the wake of the freak storm that left hundreds of thousands of households in the dark last week and vulnerable to a killer heat wave, reports Timothy Wheeler of the Sun.
But Pepco says the cost of burying their lines could run anywhere from $3 million to $12 million a mile, and studies say underground wires are no cure-all for power outages, report Kara Rose and Kate Alexander in the Gazette.
ON GAMBLING & POWER OUTAGES: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM hosted Del. Glen Glass, who says he will boycott a special session on gambling expansion if one is called this summer. Rodricks also discusses other political news, including Gov. O’Malley’s role in recovery efforts after the recent storm that left hundreds of thousands without power.
PENSION PROBLEMS: George Liebmann of the Baltimore-based Calvert Institute for Policy Research writes in an op-ed in the Sun that there are serious clouds over the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System and the way the O’Malley administration has managed it.
AGENCY MUST RE-BID CONTRACT: When a state agency tried to hire a new contractor to run a call center that fields inquiries about child support payments, an appeals panel intervened and called the process “deeply flawed” and “unreasonable, illogical and improper,” writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. The move would have replaced the current company with a less-experienced firm that proposed running the center with about half as many live operators despite a projected increase in call volume.
ANTI-SEPTIC WITNESSES: More than two dozen witnesses testified before a joint legislative committee yesterday on proposed regulation for upgraded septic systems across the state, most of them opposing the rule change, writes Dana Amihere for MarylandReporter.com.
Those affected by the regulations complained they were costly, harmful to their livelihoods and unnecessary. And rural lawmakers on the panel objected that the septic regulation represented an end run around the General Assembly, which had balked at requiring less-polluting septic systems three years ago, Timothy Wheeler writes in the Sun.
But Robert Summers, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, said that the regulations are part of an effort to reduce nitrogen released into the polluted bay by 11.6 million pounds by 2026. Summers said the septic law, combined with the regulation, will equal a reduction in nitrogen produced by about 31,000 households, the AP’s Brian Witte writes in the Salisbury Daily Times.
MARRIAGE REFERENDUM OFFICIAL: There wasn’t much suspense left, but opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law were officially notified Tuesday that they had succeeded in petitioning the measure to the November ballot, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted 162,224 signatures to repeal the law — the most turned in on any referendum issue in recent memory. The Board of Elections stopped verifying after approving 109,313 of them, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.
AD TARGETS AFRICAN-AMERICANS: Proponents of upholding Maryland’s same-sex marriage law launched on a new Web video featuring a series of African-Americans explaining why they are supporting this fall’s referendum, writes John Wagner for the post.
ABORTION CLINIC RULES: New regulations from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene requires all abortion clinics in the state to apply for a license, Sarah Cutler reports in the Gazette. Previously, physicians performing abortions required a license, but clinics as a whole did not. Beginning July 23, clinics will have to pay $1,500 for a three-year license and consent to an inspection by state health officials.
TAX FLIGHT: The editorial board of the Washington Times writes that, when times are tight, people look for potential savings wherever they can. Increasingly, Marylanders living under the oppressive tax regime of Gov. O’Malley have realized they can get a better deal by packing their bags and heading for the Old Dominion.
WHEN A MILLIONAIRE ISN’T: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com blogs about the row that Gov. O’Malley has found himself in with the Tax Foundation over figures his staff is using to bolster his argument that Maryland is at the top when it comes to millionaires. But you can have $1 million in assets without bringing in the big bucks.
HENSON ASKS TO SEE MOTHER: Julius Henson, the former political consultant sentenced to 60 days in jail last month for writing a 2010 Election Day robocall that prosecutors said was designed to suppress black votes, has requested his immediate release so that he can visit his elderly mother before she dies, Kevin Rector writes in the Sun.
SOLAR IN KENT: The roster of Kent lawmakers and public officials huddled under a tent at the new Worton Solar Field yestereday to dedicate a “first” in Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio, which will produce the energy needs of three school facilities, the Kent County Community Center and the Kent County Department of Public Works building on Morgnec Road, reports Daniel Menefee for the Chestertown Spy.
FREDERICK CHARTER: The Frederick County Charter Board agreed to advance the proposed charter and send the document to voters in November, ending nearly 16 months of meetings to draft what could define the county’s government, Pete McCarthy reports in the Frederick News-Post.
FREDERICK GETS MORE HIGH-EARNERS: A new report studying tax migration shows Frederick County has siphoned high earners from southeast Maryland as income statewide trickled from larger jurisdictions to rural areas, Bethany Rodgers writes in the Frederick News-Post. From 2009 to 2010, Frederick County’s income tax based broadened by more than $40 million, according to the analysis by Change Maryland, an anti-tax group.
CHARLES’ POLLUTION PLAN: Paul Warner reports in SoMDNews.com that, while several counties in Maryland have filed plans to clean up local waterways by a July 2 deadline, Charles County has chosen to develop its plan over the next year. Maryland is requiring its counties to submit plans that detail strategies to reduce nutrient pollution in their waterway