August 16, 2012

State Roundup, August 16, 2012

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CLIMATE ED GRANT: Teachers in Maryland are about to get new help and encouragement to talk about global warming in their classrooms, writes Timothy Wheeler in the Sun. The National Science Foundation is awarding $5.8 million for improving climate-change education in Maryland and Delaware through a partnership including universities and school systems from both states.

HEALTH DISPARITIES: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will be at the Maryland Association of Counties talking about an initiative to cut health disparities by using incentives such as tax breaks for medical providers who work in under-served areas, WBFF-TV reports.

IMMIGRANT TUITION: The energy, excitement and raw emotion was undeniable as an estimated 1,000 “dreamers” showed up at CASA de Maryland’s Langley Park center Wednesday for its inaugural application clinic, kicking off President Obama’s new deferred deportation program, Glynis Kazanjian writes in MarylandReporter.com.

GAMING BILL SIGNED: Gov. Martin O’Malley wasted little time yesterday in signing an expanded gambling bill that would allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s County, as well as table games at the state’s five other authorized slots sites, blogs John Wagner for the Post. There’s video from WJLA at the bottom of his post that includes interviews with state voters.

It is too early to determine winners and losers in the gaming debate, writes Jack Lambert of the Baltimore Business Journal. But one thing is certain — Maryland’s gambling industry is set to change if the referendum is approved. He list seven major provisions to the state’s gaming industry that are in the approved bill.

BATTLEGROUND PG: The fight to defeat this fall’s referendum on table games and casino expansion could start in Prince George’s County, where socially conservative groups and some lawmakers argue a county casino will hurt local residents and benefit only wealthy developers, reports David Hill for the Washington Times.

ROCKY GAP REQUIREMENTS: The Cumberland Times-News reports state lawmakers included two separate provisions in the bill to expand gambling in Maryland that would require the new owners of Rocky Gap to build out conference space before they could run table games and would allow veterans organizations here and statewide to offer five pull tab slot machines.

SPLIT DELEGATION: The just-finished debate over whether Maryland should legalize table games and add a sixth casino cut through political parties and county delegations, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Of the six Republicans representing Washington County in Annapolis, three voted in favor of the final bill crafted during the recent Maryland General Assembly special session and three voted against. Both Democrats in Washington County’s delegation voted yes.

PIT BULLS IN LIMBO: Aaron Davis of the Post writes that Maryland lawmakers adjourned yesterday without agreement on how to overturn a court ruling that has left thousands of Maryland pit bull owners in legal limbo.

Both chambers’ proposals would have placed strict liability on owners of all types of dogs, instead of the common law standard that has held dog owners liable only if the owner knew the dog had a propensity for being dangerous, reports Margie Hyslop in the Gazette. But their failure to pass legislation means more pitbulls are likely to lose their homes, to not get adopted or to be euthanized, advocates for animals and landlords said.

PIT BULL PRUDENCE: The Sun opinionmakers write that, in contrast to their rush to approve a gambling bill crafted in closed-door negotiations, Maryland lawmakers exercised commendable prudence in their handling of a bill to modify the terms of a recent Court of Appeals decision on liability rules for pit bull attacks.

A LONG LOOK, THEN VOTE: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette writes that, luckily, this week’s decision on gambling expansion isn’t final. It needs ratification by state voters on Nov. 6. And the longer the voters look at this one, the less they’ll like.

Editorial writers for the Salisbury Daily Times say that it’s important to get the word out to voters to participate this November – because it’s a presidential election, but also because this gambling expansion referendum is important for Marylanders, with compelling reasons to support or reject this legislation.

ISSUES FOR A SPECIAL SESSION: Opinionator Marta Mossburg, writing in the Sun, says that gambling and pit bulls were certainly no reasons to call a special session. But the broken state pension system and the fact that people and jobs are leaving the state are.

MEDIA MATCH: Mark Newgent from Red Maryland goes after Center Maryland, writing, why is an employee of Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs, which represents pro-National Harbor casino and labor interests, on the floor posing as media from Center Maryland? Is KO Public Affairs now a credentialed media outlet, or is Center Maryland a lobbying shop? He posts a tweeted photo from Patch.com’s Bryan Sears.

Speaking of Sears, maybe he should become a photographer. Danny Jacobs of the Daily Record reposts another of Sears’ photos, this one of Del. Glen Glass, looking, as Sears wrote, “a little like Conan O’Brien meets Dennis Hopper.”

BAY CLEANUP GOALS: Kelley Allen writes for the Easton Star Democrat that U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said yesterday that farmers have the tools to reach their federally mandated pollution cleanup goals, particularly as a nutrient trading program develops.

YOUNG AT MACO: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young will be working the crowd this week at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, writes Pete McCarthy of the Frederick News Post. That’s nothing new as he tries to pick up support for a possible gubernatorial run in 2014.