July 25, 2012

State Roundup, July 25, 2012

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CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS: It will become a lot easier to obtain permits to conceal and carry guns in Maryland as of Aug. 7 under a court order filed yesterday by a federal district judge. The order gives state officials two weeks to implement the judge’s March ruling striking down a requirement that concealed carry applicants show a “good and substantial reason” to transport a firearm, reports the Sun’s Tricia Bishop.

David Hill of the Washington Times reports that Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has appealed the initial ruling and could seek another stay to further delay its enforcement, but gun rights advocates say the judge’s decision puts them one step closer to finalizing a landmark victory.

DEMS SUE TO THROWOUT REMAP PETITIONS: The Maryland Democratic Party is challenging one of the Republican Party’s biggest successes in years. It filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to overturn the GOP’s successful drive to put the Democrats’ congressional redistricting map on the November ballot, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

The lawsuit takes direct aim at Maryland Republicans’ use of a web-based site, MDPetitions.com, to gather many signatures on line, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. The site, operated by Del. Neil Parrott of Washington County, has emerged as an effective way for the state GOP to challenge acts of the General Assembly through the referendum process.

And Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland opines that the Maryland Democratic Party is showing once and for all that it is shameless and has absolutely no common decency and no sanity remaining.

PARROTT PROFILE: Annie Linskey of the Sun profiles Del. Neil Parrott, saying that by any standard measure, his place in Maryland politics ought to be toward the very bottom. He’s a freshman Republican delegate in a very blue state, without pedigree or government connections. Yet he has turned a little-used provision of the Maryland Constitution into a tool capable of overturning chunks of the ruling Democrats‘ legislative agenda.

REMAP CONFUSION IN THE 8th: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post writes of the confusion within the 8th Congressional District thanks to the redistricting, which means northern Frederick County residents will choose between incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen andt Republican Ken Timmerman. But many people still think they are represented by 6th District U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

PEPCO ISSUES WARNING: Pepco warned yesterday that its reliability — heavily criticized after a storm last month left thousands of customers without power for days in scorching heat — will suffer without the higher rate increases that it requested from Maryland regulators, Rachel Baye reports in the Washington Examiner. Lawmakers said they were unhappy with — but not surprised by — Pepco’s reaction to the rate decision.

CORDISH, BUSCH MEET: David Cordish, accompanied by Joe Weinberg, the head of gaming for the Cordish Cos., was spotted going into the closed meeting at House Speaker Michael Busch’s office in the State House. Upon leaving two hours later, the two executives quickly walked away from five reporters who waited to talk with them, Earl Kelly reports in the Capital-Gazette.

BUSCH TO HUDDLE ON SPECIAL SESSION: And with time growing short to call a special General Assembly session on gambling legislation, House Speaker Busch plans to huddle with his leadership team today as top Democrats assess whether there are enough votes to justify calling lawmakers back to Annapolis, Michael Dresser and Luke Broadwater report in the Sun.

CAESARS STILL INTERESTED: Caesars Entertainment, which could win a license next week to build and operate a casino in downtown Baltimore, has reaffirmed its interest in passage of an expanded gambling plan in Maryland — with a few conditions, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record reports that a Caesars’ vice president wrote that a gambling expansion would benefit the Harrah’s casino Caesars would build if the expansion is “coupled with a well-studied market-based adjustment to the operators share for the Baltimore City and Arundel Mills sites.”

JOB LOSS & BLAME: Columnist Marta Mossburg, writing in the Frederick News Post, says that while the Bureau of Labor Statistics routinely revises data based on new information, Marylanders should expect four months of negative numbers to prompt reflection by the governor on the state of the state. The slow pace of job growth means new college graduates and the long-term unemployed will not be able to find jobs in the state’s slowing economy.

CLOSE THE LOOPHOLE: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post wants the state to close a loophole in Maryland law, detailed in a series by the Carroll County Times, that seems to protect teenagers from sex manipulation by their adult educators but leaves open consensual relationships with part-time educators.

HIGH POVERTY CHILDREN DROP: Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports that the Annie E. Casey Foundation is finding that fewer Maryland children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods than a decade ago, but the lingering economic slump has left more parents without a steady paycheck.

BEST POLITICAL SITE: Baltimore magazine’s Best of Baltimore issue that hits newsstands this week has named MarylandReporter.com as the area’s best “political website.”

ETHICS OFFICE FOR PG: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker introduced legislation yesterday to the Prince George’s County Council that would establish a new office to handle and investigate ethics complaints against county employees and officials, reports Erich Wagner in the Gazette.