July 12, 2012

State Roundup, July 12, 2012

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FRACKING JOBS & MONEY: An energy lobbyist said yesterday that drilling of Marcellus Shale to harvest natural gas could bring an estimated 2,000 jobs to Western Maryland and generate $300 million for the local economy, reports Dan Dearth for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

REMAP REFERENDUM: Annie Linskey of the Sun writes that the State Board of Elections said yesterday that a Republican-led group trying to repeal Maryland’s new congressional map has gathered enough valid signatures to trigger a referendum.

The board said the petition drive to force a referendum on the map narrowly passed the threshold of nearly 56,000 signatures needed to place the issue on the November ballot, blogs Aaron Davis in the Post.

A petition drive that ended last month has produced 55,756 valid signatures as of about 1:30 p.m. yesterday, with about 3,400 signatures yet to be checked. Nearly 7,000 signatures had been rejected, according to the board, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

OVERHAUL PROCESS: As state officials took action to deal with a botched contract award, Gov. Martin O’Malley said yesterday that Maryland’s procurement process needs an overhaul and perhaps a new watchdog, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

ATTY GEN ON PIT BULLS: Kevin Rector of the Sun reports that a controversial court ruling in April that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” is not yet in effect and must survive an appeal before it can be applied as Maryland law, according to an opinion released this week by the state attorney general’s office.

OBAMACARE BIZ IMPACT: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM examines the Affordable Care Act and its impact on businesses, small and large. This is the first of a series of shows looking at the ACA.

READYING FOR REFERENDUM: Frederick County residents on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate are preparing for a struggle with the news that Maryland residents will vote on the issue in November, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

TWEET FOR 911: The Board of Public Works has approved the State Police’s purchase of a $7.1 million advanced 911 system that could allow citizens to call, text or even tweet for help, writes Dana Amihere for MarylandReporter.com.

SEPTIC LAW CONSEQUENCES: Owners of 10 of the 61 properties that Howard County says would be affected by the law limiting where major residential subdivisions can be built on septic systems have applied to be grandfathered in, some in an attempt to save the equity in their property so they can continue farming, writes Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times. But the law may also push development instead of curb it.

DEFUNCT FIRM DOLES OUT: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker hailed Christopher Lawson as an “incredible and experienced” leader when he named him a director helping to oversee the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. He is listed as president and principal broker for Insuraty Inc., which has not been licensed by the state since 2006. Even if Maryland officially doesn’t recognize Insuraty, elected officials happily do, accepting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the company despite its defunct status, Andrea Noble and Jim McElhatton report for the Washington Times.

O’MALLEY TAX KERFUFFLE: Following a MarylandReporter article, Emily Hatton of the Washington Times writes that Gov. O’Malley’s office took a swipe at a grass-roots citizens’ group over a report claiming people are leaving Maryland for Virginia, beginning a fight in cyberspace between the governor, the citizens’ group and an established nonpartisan tax research organization.

PRIVATE GAMING PARLORS: Tim Pratt of the Capital-Gazette follows up a story from last week about six of seven older gambling parlors being allowed to continue operation under bills that were quietly passed by the General Assembly. The bills allowed licensed facilities in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties to continue operating electronic bingo machines.

CHIEF TEARE TO RETIRE: Embattled Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare agreed to retire next month, ending the criminal investigation of his role in the misconduct case against his boss, County Executive John Leopold, report Andrea Siegel and Erin Cox in the Sun.

The Capital-Gazette’s Allison Bourg reports that State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said in a statement: “It is important to resolve this matter without any further disruption to the effective functioning of the police department at a time when it is reorganizing and the Anne Arundel County executive is under indictment.”

WOMAN TAKES HIS PLACE: The first female police chief in county history will lead the department following Chief Teare’s retirement, writes Allison Bourg in the Capital-Gazette. Maj. Pamela Davis of Lothian will serve as acting chief, County Executive John Leopold said.

ETHICS CONCERNS: A statement from Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young decrying the Affordable Care Act and urging the election of conservative officials has raised concerns from the local ethics board. Young’s message arrived June 28 in the in-boxes of local media outlets and was posted on the county government website under his official letterhead, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News-Post.

CASINO GRANTS DELAYED: Cecil County commissioners delayed action on this year’s grants that award nonprofits part of the county’s share of Hollywood Casino Perryville’s profits, saying they want more time to review the recommendations, according to a story in the Cecil Whig.