July 13, 2012

State Roundup, July 13, 2012

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FINE THE UTILITIES: The Post’s Mary Pat Flaherty and Victor Zapana report that backlash over the power outages following the June 29 storm continue as Sens. Brian Frosh and Jim Rosapepe urge state utility regulators to impose fines of $100 million each on Pepco and BGE for economic damage — from spoiled food to shuttered workplaces – borne by homeowners and businesses left in the dark.

CRITICISM OF O’MALLEY GROWS: And criticism of Gov. Martin O’Malley as an aloof politician more focused on his presidential ambitions than fixing the problems at home is starting to creep beyond Republicans, as residents and even some Democratic lawmakers question the governor’s prolific national schedule in the wake of a massive power outage that wreaked havoc on the state, reports Brian Hughes for the Washington Examiner.

And Mark Newgent of Red Maryland writes that Gov. O’Malley, when asked about his failure to hold Pepco and BGE accountable for power outages,isn’t blaming the utilities. He’s blaming global warming.

GAMBLING EXPANSION: Gov. O’Malley is planning two days of meetings with key state leaders early next week that could determine whether he decides to call a special session on gambling expansion this summer, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record blogs that Republican leaders in the House of Delegates chastised O’Malley yesterday for continuing to seek consensus for a gambling-focused special session this summer, causing a deep-pocketed proponent to fire back. Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell said opposition to a special session is fierce in his caucus.

Blair Lee in his Gazette column points out problems with the expansion of gambling, and Barry Rascovar in his column says he agrees with Lee’s previous column on the gaming issue.

GAY MARRIAGE: The editorial board for the Sun writes that, because the Court of Appeals has ruled that Maryland must recognize gay marriages performed in other states, all that is at stake in the gay marriage referendum is whether same-sex couples who wish to make a lifelong commitment can be legally joined in a civil marriage ceremony performed in the state, or whether they have to travel a few miles down the road to the District of Columbia.

GAY MARRIAGE FUND-RAISER: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who has been positioning himself to run for governor in 2014, is hosting a fundraiser tonight to benefit the campaign to uphold the state’s same-sex marriage law, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

He’s hosting the event with Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane, a Democrat who became the county’s first openly gay elected official after winning his 2010 campaign against incumbent Republican Kay Hartleb, reports Lindsey McPherson of the Howard County Times.

STATE AHEAD ON HEALTH CARE: While more than a dozen states, including Virginia, are reportedly considering taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing states to decline to participate in the federal health care reform act’s expansion of Medicaid, Maryland is ahead of the readiness curve and is poised to embrace the full federal reform package that the court otherwise upheld, writes Donald Fry for Center Maryland.

PIT PRIDE: Courtney Pomeroy of the Frederick News-Post writes about one woman’s attempts to get the word out that pitbulls are undeserving of the recent state court ruling that the breed is inherently dangerous. She’ll be holding a Pit Pride event this weekend.

GANSLER & ECOLOGY: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and his staff, including some attorneys who specialize in environmental protection, spent a full day at Worcester County’s coastal bays, out on the water. His agency is in charge of environmental enforcement, Brian Shane writes for the Salisbury Daily Times.

O’M TO HEAD DNC RULES PANEL: O’Malley will serve as co-chair of the Democratic convention’s rules committee this year, a high-profile position that comes amid rampant speculation in party circles about his potential as a presidential candidate in 2016, writes John Fritze in the Sun.

GREEN PARTY CONVENES: Hundreds of Green Party members arrived yesterday in Baltimore to pick a candidate for president, even as the party has been forced to scramble for a spot on Maryland’s ballot this fall, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

In an interview with Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com, Dr. Jill Stein, who will become the Green Party’s presidential nominee tomorrow, said she is “practicing political medicine … I almost see myself as a political therapist.”

And Marc Steiner also interviewed Dr. Stein. You can hear that here.

FIXING AA POLICE: The sudden departure of Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare poses a challenge for the county, but the change also presents an opportunity to turn around a department beset by controversy, including the continuing misconduct case against County Executive John Leopold, Andrea Siegel writes in the Sun.

The Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor — not the county — announced Teare’s retirement, indicating to some observers that prosecutors played a part in Teare’s decision, reports Allison Bourg in the Capital-Gazette. Teare’s attorney said that after Teare decided to retire he asked prosecutors if they would drop the investigation into his client.

JOHNSON DISBARRED IN DC: Jack Johnson, the former Prince George’s County executive serving time in prison for his pay-to-play schemes while leading the county government, was disbarred from practicing law in the District, Ben Giles reports for the Washington Examiner.

MINORITY DISTRICT: Montgomery County delegate wants what Prince George’s County in the last round of redistricting—a single-member district with a heavy Latino population, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on a Groupon joke gone astray; Mike Miller breaking his silence; PG praise for Pepco; same-sex marriage ads; legislative votes; an anti-Obama campaign; and Michael Steele on the RNC.