August 20, 2012

State Roundup, August 20, 2012

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BALLOT BUSY-NESS: David Hill of the Washington Times writes that, with last week’s court decision to allow a referendum on Maryland’s congressional map and the General Assembly’s passage of a gambling expansion bill, Maryland voters will see seven statewide questions on the ballot this fall.

MarylandReporter updates its story on the appeals court hearing the attempt to keep the congressional redistricting challenge off the ballot with a short order signed by Chief Judge Robert Bell, the Maryland Court of Appeals on Friday morning affirmed the lower court ruling that allows the congressional redistricting to be challenged on the November ballot. Here’s is the story about Thursday’s hearing, written by Glynis Kazanjian.

Maryland enters uncharted political territory this fall as voters for the first time in decades face four major ballot questions. An onslaught of costly advertising is likely as competing interests from all over the country try to sway the state’s electorate, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

John Wagner of the Post writes that Marylanders will be busy at the ballot box in November and get the final say on whether gay couples may wed and illegal immigrants should pay in-state college tuition rates — two privileges that no other state has granted at the ballot box. They’ll also decide whether to scrap the state’s new congressional map and — thanks to the legislature’s action Wednesday — whether to turn the Baltimore-Washington corridor into one of the most concentrated casino markets in the county.

LIVE DEALERS: In what may be the ultimate man vs. machine story, writes Carol Morello for the Post, the back-to-the-future move to bring in human dealers is more about money and marketing than nostalgia. Casino operators, players, dealers and therapists who treat problem gamblers say the presence of live dealers makes gambling more entertaining and more lucrative than in casinos equipped just with electronic games.

VETERANS SLOTS: David Moon runs a few clarifications about the veterans’ hall slots machines portion of the gambling referendum from Del. Eric Luedtke and Fred Nordhorn from the Prince George’s County Commission for Veterans.

JOBLESS RATE HITS 7%: For yet another month, Maryland’s unemployment rate inched upward, reaching 7% in July, Eileen Ambrose reports that the U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday.

But, writes Kevin James Shay for the Gazette, after four straight months of declining employment, Maryland reported an 800-job gain for July.

READY BY 21: Shalita O’Neale approached her 21st birthday with more dread than enthusiasm. Reaching the milestone meant she would officially age out of the state’s foster care system. Nine years later, she is a college graduate established in a career with a home and family of her own, writes Gail Mary Hare. But she understands the desperation that comes with severing ties to a system that has filled in for absentee parents. She has become a strong proponent of a new state initiative, known as Ready by 21.

MACO MINORITY CAUCUS: Howard County Council member Calvin Ball had an idea to start a statewide minority caucus — an idea birthed from his experiences as the only minority on the council and his desire to support other minorities in similar situations, reports Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times. On Saturday, with help from a handful of other elected officials who attended an intimate planning lunch for the caucus, Ball started to bring the idea to life.

LT. GOV. BROWN: In a speech that strongly hinted at his ambitions, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Saturday that Maryland’s most pressing challenge is the “persistent gaps and disparities” among its diverse communities in health care, education and employment, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Lt. Gov. Brown pinch-hitting for Gov. O’Malley as the closing speaker at the Maryland Association of Counties, laid out a broad set of long-range priorities for Maryland — including education, health care, infrastructure and business development, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser. He took on the role traditionally reserved for the governor at the MACO convention, the first time in his six years as lieutenant governor that he has filled in for O’Malley at the high-profile event.

GAGGLE OF WOULD-BE GOVS: Potential candidates for governor in 2014 flocked to Ocean City last week to raise cash, mingle with other elected officials and line up support for their likely campaigns, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman managed to host a fundraiser Thursday with more than 100 people in attendance, reports Lindsey McPherson in the Howard County Times. A few of the attendees at the Ocean City event were supporters from Howard, but many were from other parts of the state.

BARTLETT’S CABIN: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who is struggling to survive the recent redistricting and an onslaught by Democrat John Delaney for his job, is also a nationally know survivalist, writes the Post’s Ben Pershing.

BONGINO ENDORSEMENT: Dan Bongino gets a key endorsement to bolster a specific voter segment as he runs for U.S. Senate against incumbent Ben Cardin, reports Monoblogue.

FIGHTING IRISH: The Irish were at it again yesterday morning: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, liberal Democrat, sparring on Meet the Press with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, conservative Republican. Both chair their party’s governors association, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

O’MALLEY TO SPEAK AT DEM CONVENTION: O’Malley will be among the featured speakers at next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that party officials are set to announce today, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

OPEN MEETINGS VIOLATIONS: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that since taking office less than two years ago, the five-member Carroll County Board of Commissioners has tied for the highest number of citizen complaints filed with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board for a Carroll board. Of the five complaints filed since December 2010, the compliance board has found that the current board of commissioners violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act twice. In another decision, the compliance board said that the commissioners did not violate the act, but their actions gave the “appearance of secrecy.”

FREDERICK AT THE CONVENTIONS: When the balloons drop on President Barack Obama and on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the end of their respective party conventions later this summer, several Frederick County residents will be there to see history made, Ryan Marshall reports for the Gazette.

Ed Waters of the Frederick News Post reports that Frederick delegates to the Republican National Convention are excited about going to what they see as a history-making event.

Waters also writes that there is a mix of veterans and first-timers heading to the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 3 from Frederick County.

FREDERICK ELECTIONS BOARD: Noreen Schultz got her start at the Frederick County Board of Elections 23 years ago. Today she is the deputy elections director and is considered the “strong right arm” of the board, Pete McCarthy writes for the Frederick News Post.

ARUNDEL RULES: Andrea Walker of the Sun reports that Anne Arundel County employees whose deliberate behavior leads to legal settlements or judgments against the county could be ordered to cut a check for the damages under a bill to be introduced tonight before the County Council. Another bill to be introduced Monday would allow the council to approve large legal settlements.

REZONING OVERTURNED: Queen Anne’s County commissioners improperly changed the zoning of hundreds of acres of farmland, a county judge has ruled, writes Pamela Wood for the Capital-Gazette. The rezoning of the 216-acre property near Chesapeake College was illegal because the highway zoning it was granted is only for the Route 301 corridor. The property in question is near the intersection of Routes 50 and 213.