SEEING RED IN MARYLAND: Earl Kelly of the Capital-Gazette writes that, since the 2010 elections, Republicans have controlled 15 of the state’s 24 local governments. There are 158 locally elected Republicans in office statewide compared to 157 Democrats, according to a state GOP count. In the five Western Maryland counties, as GOP activists like to note, there’s not one Democratic county commissioner. And Republicans and their allies have been able to force three major statewide Democratic initiatives onto the November ballot, with hopes of seeing voters overturn them.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE POLL: A new poll released yesterday morning by a gay-rights group shows solid support for the state’s new same-sex marriage law, with 54% of likely voters saying they would support the measure and 40% opposing, reports Annie Linskey of the Sun.
ONLINE GAMBLING: Internet gambling, which could bring casinos to every home, office or smartphone, has moved from the periphery of Maryland’s debate over expanded gambling to center stage, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.
House Speaker Michael Busch briefly noted the possibility of developing an online gambling component in a memo to the House Democratic Caucus in an update of plans for the session, which is scheduled to begin next Thursday, the AP’s Brian Witte reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.
A DEAL FOR MONTGOMERY: The Post’s John Wagner blogs that state delegates from Montgomery County swapped notes last night about their recent conversations with the governor and House Speaker and talked about what they might seek in exchange for their support of an expanded gambling bill in next week’s special session.
WHERE’S THE BILL? Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record writes that, for at least the past two weeks, the governor’s office has been developing legislation that could expand gambling. Senate President Mike Miller said last week he thought the draft bill would be ready this week. So Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin wants to know where the legislation is.
UNHAPPY WITH ROCKY GAP: Downsizing by the developer who pledged to open a slots emporium at Rocky Gap isn’t winning friends among local officials, reports Matthew Bieniek of Cumberland Times-News. One Allegany County Commissioner said, “… if they’re using all the conference space for the slots, that will kill the lodge’s conference room income and attract only day-tripper slots players, rather than the overnight players who will spend more money.”
HARRAH’S FUNDING SHORTAGE: CBAC Gaming LLC, the financier behind the proposed Baltimore City casino, said it has only 40% of the necessary financing needed for Harrah’s Baltimore, reports James Bach for the Baltimore Business Journal. But state gambling officials remain confident that the city gaming site will attract significant private funding from investors.
CASINO FOR ROSECROFT? Penn National Gaming plans to “aggressively push” state lawmakers to consider Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County as a potential site for a sixth casino license in the upcoming special session, according to an SEC filing, writes James Bach for the Baltimore Business Journal.
SHOW ME THE VOTES: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar says the stakes are high for Gov. Martin O’Malley in next week’s special session, since he’s called it without being sure the votes are in place to pass the expansion of gambling he wants.
Blair Lee’s Gazette column analyzes the problem of getting to 71 votes in the House of Delegates and shows how it could be done to solve an issue that is hardly an emergency.
WINNERS AND LOSERS: Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette writes about who the winners and losers of the special session might be.
AN EMERGENCY SESSION: The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times says that it was correct for Gov. O’Malley to call a special session on gambling. Jobs are at stake, as well as state and local revenue. It’s not unreasonable to say that high unemployment constitutes an emergency that a gambling expansion might help to alleviate.
MEMORIAL STADIUM REEF: Ever wonder what happened to all the remains of Memorial Stadium, former home of the Orioles? Some of its concrete rubble sits at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay in a small cove by the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, providing a home for fish, crabs, mussels, eels, and, most importantly, oysters, John Arenas reports in the Capital-Gazette.
GUN CONTROL: The editorial board for the Sun writes that Attorney General Doug Gansler was right to seek a stay on a ruling that would have allowed thousands of weapons on the streets; even in well-intentioned hands, they put the public at risk.
DISASTER DECLARED: President Barack Obama yesterday declared a major disaster in Maryland following the storms and high winds of late June and early July, and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected, Matthew Hay Brown reports in the Sun.
As a result of the declaration, which was requested by Gov. Martin O’Malley, the federal government may reimburse state and local governments for up to 75% of the costs associated with their response and clean-up efforts, John Wagner blogs in the Post.
COMCAST-VERIZON DEAL QUESTIONED: Under a joint marketing agreement, Verizon and Comcast would get the right to sell each other’s services, but U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin worry about the full impact of such a plan on Baltimore City, reports Barry Sims of WBAL-TV
LEOPOLD TRIAL POSTPONED: County Executive John Leopold’s trial on misconduct and misappropriation, originally scheduled to begin Sept. 4, has been postponed, Allison Bourg reports in the Capital-Gazette.
Records show that the defense plans to investigate the conduct of other officials in Maryland. Attorney Bruce Marcus said in court that the misconduct charges have an “inherent vagueness,” and details about how executives handle security are “absolutely central” to Leopold’s case, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.
PENSION LOAN QUESTIONED: Some Baltimore County Council members and union officials say a $25 million loan made to the county from its own pension system raises questions, reports Bryan Sears for Patch.com. The loan will be used to pay for a new recycling facility in Cockeysville.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Climate change soon could alter the rules regarding the construction of state buildings and roads, Margie Hyslop reports in the Gazette. New directives that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources already is using could influence how and where agencies build and manage infrastructure, especially projects vulnerable to sea level rise.
NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Marriott’s approach to same-sex marriage issues; Faith Loudon’s firearm fundraiser; Babe Ruth’s jersey; Pat McDonough’s top 10; and a MoCo Council meeting with Fairfax counterparts.