July 17, 2012

State Roundup, July 17, 2012

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END TO LOGJAM ON GAMBLING EXPANSION? After meeting with leaders from two of the state’s largest counties and Baltimore City Monday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley declared that “progress is being made” on a consensus proposal to expand the state’s gambling program to authorize a sixth site, likely in Prince George’s County, Annie Linskey reports in the Sun.

While Gov. O’Malley said he appreciated the support of Rushern Baker of Prince George’s County, Ike Leggett of Montgomery County and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore City, he also kept the focus on House Speaker Michael Busch, saying prospects for a special session would depend on whether the House “coalesces around their leader,” writes John Wagner in the Post. There is already broad support in the Senate.

A SPECIAL SESSION: Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette reports that O’Malley remains hopeful there will be a special session on gambling this summer and thinks there is “broad consensus” on an alternative plan put forward by the House of Delegates.

This morning, Maryland’s three most influential lawmakers are set to meet for a breakfast pow-wow at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Annapolis residence, Annie Linskey reports in the Sun. On the menu is a frank discussion of the state’s gambling program and prospects for a summertime special session aimed at expanding it to include a sixth casino and table games like poker and blackjack.

AND CORDISH’S CONCERN: Meanwhile, David Cordish, the owner of Maryland’s largest casino, said Monday that an accounting firm has found that nearly half its revenue is coming from the Washington area, a finding with “enormous” implications for the debate over whether to allow a new casino in Prince George’s County, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

PETITION SEEKS TO FIRE PSC: “Firing the entire PSC and starting over is the best way to energize the regulatory mission of the agency and bring us the quality service that we are paying for,” says a petition aimed at firing the current Maryland Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulator, which has collected 1,220 signatures. Rachel Baye writes the story for the Washington Examiner.

PENSION PROBLEM: Maryland’s $37 billion state pension system may lower its expectations of what it can earn on investments — a decision with potentially significant consequences for retirees and Maryland taxpayers, write Michael Dresser and Alison Knezevich for the Sun. The system covers more than 370,000 current and retired public school teachers, police and state employees.

STUDENT IMPROVEMENT: Liz Farmer of the Washington Examiner writes that a Harvard study finds that Maryland tops the nation in student improvement, making it a trendsetter for the rest of the country.

VOTERS’ GUIDE: Patch.com offers up a Voters’ Guide complete with the referendums on the ballot. It will be updated as more information comes in and as it gets closer to the November election.

ROSEN CAMPAIGNS: Wendy Rosen, the Democratic candidate who faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in November, continued her campaigning in Easton, where she talked about her small business background and the ongoing struggle for women’s rights, according to a story in the Easton Star-Democrat.

6th DISTRICT DOLLARS: While U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-6th) has accelerated his campaign fund-raising to a record personal pace, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post, he has spent much less than his opponent – John Delaney – in recent months.

Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland takes a look at outside funding for the Bartlett-Delaney race and whether any promised money will actually feed into this contest.

DELANEY BACKS DREAM: Sixth District candidate John Delaney told the crowd of Latino students he strongly supported the federal Dream Act and a “clear and short path” to citizenship for the country’s undocumented population, Glynis Kazanjian writes for MarylandReporter.com.

LOCAL GREEN PARTY’S NEXT MOVE: With the end of the Green Party’s national convention in Baltimore, the Maryland Green Party continues to have to decide between the pull of national issues and the draw of local ones., according to Katie Pearce in Baltimore Brew.

OUSTER RULES DELAYED: The Anne Arundel County Council last night again delayed two measures that create new rules for ousting elected officials. Council Chairman Derek Fink said the council decided to vote in August when the panel’s seven members could all be present, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.