August 28, 2012

State Roundup, August 28, 2012

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GOP PLATFORM: When Republicans adopt their revised platform at the national convention today in Tampa, the party’s positions on issues such as abortion and immigration are likely to receive a lot of attention. But several Maryland delegates say the focus needs to be on the economy — not social issues — and if the party wants to take back the White House, reports Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette.

Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM speaks with Green Party vice presidential nominee Cheri Honkala and former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich about what to expect during the GOP convention.

HARRIS IN TAMPA: He’s a rookie in Congress, but U.S. Rep. Andy Harris is positioned to become a GOP heavyweight in Maryland. As delegates from across the country converge at the Republican National Convention this week to nominate Mitt Romney for president, the first-term lawmaker from Cockeysville is the state’s highest-ranking elected official to attend, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

WYPR has this report from the convention by Art Buist.

FRACKING SPAT: A nuclear energy expert from Maryland found himself under fire from some in the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention yesterday after he criticized natural gas fracking and its viability as a primary energy source, reports Capital News Service’s Matt McNab in the Daily Record.

O’MALLEY TO ATTEND: Gov. Martin O’Malley is among those appearing in enemy territory to make the counter argument to that being put forward by Republicans this week and offered a hint of what’s likely to come on Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when he called the GOP a “party of exclusion,” blogs John Wagner of the Post.

CRIME & OFFICE: Opinionators at the Post write that if Maryland voters approve a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, a measure inspired by the Jack and Leslie Johnson travesty, they will bar convicted criminals from continuing to serve in public office after their conviction but before they are sentenced to prison.

DBED FIGHTS BACK: The state Department of Business and Economic Development posted a quirky, two-and-a-half minute video that rebuts the claims of organizations such as Change Maryland that deride Gov. Martin O’Malley for taxing wealthier Marylanders, a practice that the group says has led to a mass exodus of state taxpayers to places such as Virginia and North Carolina, writes Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

GAY MARRIAGE FUNDER: John Wagner blogs in the Post about the long list of top-flight celebrities headlining a fundraiser planned in New York next month to benefit the campaign for same-sex marriage in Maryland.

$2.4M IN THE KITTY: MGM Resorts, the gambling company lined up to run a casino at National Harbor, has anted up $2.4 million toward an effort to win voter approval in November for an expanded gambling package, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

Developers at National Harbor announced in June that MGM would invest at least $800 million to build and operate a casino there, assuming voters approve an expansion of Maryland gambling in November, reports Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner.

BARTLETT TARGETED: Ben Pershing blogs in the Post that one week after Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri sparked a massive controversy with his comments regarding abortion and “legitimate rape,” Democrats are stepping up their efforts to tie Akin to his Republican colleagues — including Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs about the effort.

SUPPORT FOR BARTLETT: Meanwhile, a top National Republican Congressional Committee official says the group is likely to throw some support to Rep. Bartlett “fairly soon,” but declined to elaborate on just how much it can afford to spend defending the vulnerable incumbent from Western Maryland, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

BACK ON BALLOT: Miffed with Mitt? Had it with Obama? The Greens and Libertarians are back in business in Maryland elections. On Monday, the State Board of Elections told leaders of both political parties that they had collected enough valid petition signatures to be put back on the November ballot, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

POULTRY HELP: U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin joined an informal Chicken Caucus of senators to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up efforts to help the mid-Atlantic poultry industry cope with the economic impact of drought, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

FEDERAL CUTS: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris told members of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce that Congress is facing some tough decisions as it heads toward the November presidential election – most imminent is the looming automatic cuts set to take effect in January if Congress can’t approve a new deficit reduction agreement before then, writes Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.

RELIGION & ALLEGANY: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News reports, that just when it seemed that questions of theology had returned to churches and left Allegany County Commission meetings, a Swanton resident brought forward his concerns about prayers at commission meetings

CITY SCHOOLS SPENDING: Baltimore’s top leadership called on the school system Monday to tighten oversight of its expenditures after a Baltimore Sun investigation found central office staff spent roughly $500,000 during the past year and a half on items such as a $7,300 office retreat at a downtown hotel and a $1,000 dinner at an exclusive members-only club, writes Erica Green for the Sun.

The editorial board for the Sun opines that, at a time when Baltimore City agencies are under scrutiny regarding the wise use of taxpayer dollars, you’d think top school administrators would think twice before racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable expenses on their department-issued credit cards. But apparently some educators still don’t get it.