July 18, 2012

State Roundup, July 18, 2012

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STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: When a casino was proposed less than two miles from his neighborhood near Arundel Mills, David Jones spent weekends canvassing for petition signatures, chaired the No Slots at the Mall activist group and dedicated months to trying to kill the project, writes Erin Cox for the Sun. Last month, he was defending the Maryland Live! Casino and asking for the community’s revenue cut to be devoted to math and science programs.

NO SPECIAL SESSION YET: Maryland’s top state lawmakers were unable to agree on Tuesday about calling a special session to consider adding a sixth casino and legalizing Las Vegas-style table games, reports Earl Kelly in the Capital-Gazette.

Senate President Mike Miller said that “some hard work” and “elbow grease” are required in coming days if the General Assembly is to come back for a special session on gambling expansion, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

BUT CITY MEETING SET: An aide to Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed that she plans to meet this morning with delegates from the city to discuss an expanded gambling proposal, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

The meeting would be the latest step in renewed effort by the state’s Democratic leaders to squeeze a summer special session on gambling before an Aug. 20 deadline, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and legislative leaders are expected to be part of that meeting, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

ALCOHOL TAX HELPS: Maryland health officials are highlighting a new emphasis on supporting home and community-based, long-term care with the help of last year’s increase in the state’s alcohol tax, according to an AP story at WMAR-TV.

FINE THE UTILITIES: Gwendolyn Glenn of the Howard County Times reports about Sens. Brian Frosh and James Rosapepe’s demand that Pepco and BGE come up with a plan within 60 days to respond quickly to power outages following major storms and be fined $100 million each.

PENSION ASSUMPTIONS: Declining to follow the footsteps of Baltimore County’s pension plan, Maryland’s state employee retirement system decided yesterday to leave unchanged its assumption about how much it will earn on investments, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. But pension board did change demographic assumptions which will increase state payments into the system.

INTERNET PRIVACY: As the new president of the National Association of Attorneys General – NAAG for short – Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has targeted Internet privacy as the focus of his year at the top, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

COMPUTER SCIENCE LAGS: Professor James Purtilo, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that Gov. O’Malley correctly flags science, technology, engineering and mathematics as critical economic enablers, and an administrative priority. And it’s good news that Towson University won a $2 million grant to study science instruction and that the University of Maryland, Baltimore County leads the nation with teaching mathematics. But the future is not bright for one key area: computer science.

LIMIT EPA: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris said environmental regulations were killing job growth and supports parts of a bill moving through the House that would limit EPA regulation of the Clean Water Act to “navigable waters” and steer the EPA away from regulating agriculture, which he said serves as the Shore’s biggest job creator, reports Daniel Menefee for the Chestertown Spy.

ON OBAMACARE: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM continues his series “Obamacare Demystified” with the short and long term political implications of states opting out of Medicaid expansion, an aspect of President Obama’s heath reform rejected by the Supreme Court.

WICOMICO CHARTER: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Wicomico County Council has received the Charter Review and Redistricting committees’ recommendations and has begun deciding which suggestions it will adopt. Both committees spent months taking on the once-a-decade task of reviewing the county’s charter and carving up its five voting districts.