July 16, 2012

State Roundup, July 16, 2012

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PSC TO HOLD OUTAGE HEARINGS: The Maryland Public Service Commission will conduct public hearings in September on the widespread power outages the state suffered during a storm, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

O’MALLEY ON SPECIAL SESSION II: Gov. Martin O’Malley said Friday that he plans to decide within the next week or so whether to call a special legislative session on expanded gambling that would likely include the authorization of a Prince George’s County casino, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

Raquel Guillory, an O’Malley spokeswoman, confirmed that the governor is scheduled to meet with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

The editorial board for the Sun opines that Gov. O’Malley is making a last-ditch try for a special session on expanded gambling, but his promised windfall from Prince George’s slots doesn’t add up.

MILLER ISSUES WARNING: State Senate President Mike Miller is warning that if lawmakers don’t pass such legislation this summer, the General Assembly’s regular session in 2014 will be “the session from hell,” reports Ben Giles in the Examiner.

TURNER STILL WARY: Del. Frank Turner, who chairs the House’s gambling subcommittee, still doesn’t think there will be a special legislative session this summer to expand gaming in Maryland. And if there is one, the only topic should be permitting table games at the existing slots casinos, not adding a sixth casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, he told Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

PRO-CASINO AD: A new television ad from a group pushing a casino at National Harbor asserts that failure to authorize a casino during a special session this summer will: (1) cost Maryland “$1 billion” in tax revenue and (2) will deny the state’s economy “thousands” of “good paying jobs.” Annie Linskey of the Sun analyzes the ad’s claims.

MARYLAND AQUIFERS: Scott Dance of the Sun reports that a new study stacks the age of Maryland aquifers up against the few to have been dated so old, including those underneath the Sahara Desert and the Australian outback. And it shows that a resource many take for granted cannot be renewed on a human time scale. “We’re going to wake up thirsty one day if we’re not smarter,” said Del. Galen Clagett, who sat on a state commission dedicated to groundwater issues.

HEALTH CARE INCOME: Dana Amihere of MarylandReporter.com reports that a new study finds that health care system reforms under the Affordable Care Act will cost the state billions to implement but are also projected to generate income from FY 2014 to FY 2020 as a result of the newly insured.

HEALTH CARE EXPANSION: Maryland Gov. O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell continued their war of words last week, coinciding with McDonnell’s hosting of the National Governors Association’s annual meeting. The topic was the provision in President Obama’s health care overhaul that subsidizes states’ expansion of their Medicaid rolls, writes Matthew Cella of the Washington Times. Deep-blue Maryland has embraced the law with open arms, while McDonnell, a Republican, has yet to decide whether to implement the expansion, citing the uncertainties and growing costs associated with the federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, sick and elderly.

OLD BAY POLITICS: Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that organizers of Wednesday’s J. Millard Tawes Crab & Clam Bake are expecting a crowd to show up at the 36th annual event, which traditionally mixes Crisfield seafood served up with a side of Maryland politics.

TEARING DOWN “THE HOUSE:” Hundreds of DPSCS and former House of Correction employees toured the 129-year-old Maryland House of Correction one last time before it is scheduled to be torn down, reports WBFF-TV. “The House” was a state maximum security prison, the second prison established by the state of Maryland.

Yvonne Wenger of the Sun also gives a short  history of the Jessup facility.

STATE POLICE OVERTIME: An analysis by Maryland StateStat found overtime spending is up at several state police bureaus, as stations rely on the extra overtime to fill gaps caused by rising vacancies, writes Brian Hughes for the Washington Examiner.

TRUST IN GOV’T WANES: Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette writes about the lagging trust that the American public has in government and cites the recent and ongoing scandals within Anne Arundel County as prime examples.

JUVIE JAIL FOR WALDORF: Erica Mitrano of SoMDNews.com writes that the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services announced on Friday that a juvenile detention center will be built in northern Waldorf once the state government buys the land.

PG DNA BACKLOG: Prince George’s County has the biggest backlog of cases involving DNA evidence in Maryland, hindering prosecution of sex crimes and violent crimes, according to state data, Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner reports.

CALVERT SEPTIC REACTION: The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners is concerned the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act – aka the septic bill – will undo what the county has already done to preserve land and will further limit residential development, Amanda Harrison reports in SoMDNews.com.

HENSON RELEASED: Political consultant Julius Henson was released a month early from the Baltimore City Detention Center because he received time off for good behavior and for sharing a cell, not because he had requested the early release to visit his ailing mother, Luke Broadwater blogs in the Sun.

O’M AS OBAMA SECOND: Alexander Burns of Politico writes that the Democratic governor of Maryland has emerged as perhaps the sharpest-tongued, most enthusiastic and aggressive advocate for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

BARTLETT OUT-RAISED, OUT-RACED: John Fritze blogs in the Sun that Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who is fighting to retain control of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, posted his best fund-raising quarter in years on Friday, but was nevertheless out-raised by his Democratic challenger, John Delaney.

Several pundits are now beginning to proclaim Delaney the frontrunner in the race, blogs David Moon in Maryland Juice.

Ben Pershing of the Post writes the Maryland Republican survived an April primary against seven opponents, receiving just 44% of the vote. Now he must introduce himself to hundreds of thousands of new voters in a district that was redrawn by Democrats specifically to oust him.

HEALTH FEE HIKES IN CARROLL: Fees charged to people for reviews, permits and tests by the Carroll County Health Department are expected to increase, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times. The public has until July 26 to comment on the increases, which raise the fees anywhere from $5 to $150. The department’s permit fees have not been changed since 1995, making Carroll’s fees the lowest in the state.