September 17, 2012

State Roundup, September 17, 2012

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FACT CHECK CASINO JOB GROWTH: Tina Reed of the Capital Gazette plays fact-checker on claims of job growth proffered by supportersof Referendum Question 7.

MILLIONS TO PRO, ANTI FIGHT: Casino operators with millions of dollars at stake in Maryland’s plans to expand gambling by allowing a site in Prince George’s County have ramped up spending again, giving more than $15 million to pro- and anti-casino groups as the November election draws closer, Ben Giles reports in the Washington Examiner.

OCEAN DOWNS DONATIONS: Ocean Downs Enterprises filed contribution disclosure forms detailing more than $10,000 in donations to candidates during the 2007-2010 election cycle, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

HEALTH EXCHANGES: In a op-ed in the Sun, Leni Preston of the Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform, writes that, with the news that Maryland has received a new federal grant of $123 million to support the establishment of its health benefit exchange, we must continue to use smart strategies to guarantee that as many uninsured Marylanders as possible get the health security the law is designed to provide.

FRACKING GETS A PASS: Capital Gazette columnist Pat Furgurson writes that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained language exempting fracking from the Clean Water Act. Some call it the Halliburton amendment, in honor of the gas and oil and supply conglomerate once headed by then-Vice President Dick Cheney. How can fracking affect water? In part through the sheer volume of water needed to bust gas-laden seams. One study put it at close to 4 million gallons for some wells.

WOMEN’S VOTE: “When women vote, we have found historically that Democrats win, so what we need to do is to find issues that will resonate with women,” Myrna Whitworth, chair of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee said Saturday during the eighth annual Western Maryland Democratic Summit. Kristin Harty Barkley writes the story for the Cumberland Times-News.

NONVOTERS WON’T VOTE: States have tried a bunch of techniques to improve voter turnout on Election Day, but according to some studies and polls, no matter how easy officials make it, more than a third of the voting age population will still not cast a ballot, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

TAKING A TOLL: Paying higher tolls is no fun, opines the opinionators at the Capital-Gazette. But there’s something even more annoying: Paying higher tolls, then finding out that the state officials who decided on the increase — solemnly contending that they had no choice — are doing precious little to collect millions of dollars owed by thousands of toll scofflaws who blow through E-ZPass lanes without transponders.

PIT BULLS: Kevin Rector of the Sun interviews a pit bull owner in Armistead Gardens, a low-income community where dog owners promise to fight the recent court ruling that spurred an order by Armistead Homes that they give up their dogs.

ECONOMY FALLS, TUITIONS RISE: Lisa Gartner of the Washington Examiner writes that while the rest of the economy took a hit, college tuition rates soared.

OFF-THE-CUFF O’MALLEY: Maryland Juice’s David Moon puts together a small packet of off-the-cuff remarks from Gov. Martin O’Malley that appeared in two publications – Governing and Buzzfeed – recently. The governor riffs on The Wire and any resemblance he may have to the charge of the Mayor Thomas Carcetti and talks about Democratic strategy for keeping the White House this year.

O’MALLEY IN IOWA: Gov. O’Malley was in this first-in-the-nation caucus state yesterday to give the keynote address to hundreds at a Democratic barbecue — a role frequently reserved for likely presidential candidates, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

NO DEBATE FOR HARRIS: The Easton Star-Democrat is reporting that incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Harris will not be part of any debate prior to the election. Harris now technically has no Democratic opponent since Wendy Rosen dropped out of the race amid charges of voter fraud.

HAZAROUS MATERIALS: Courtney Mabeus of the Frederick News Post reports that two members of a Frederick advisory committee will serve on a group convened by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to address blind spots in state oversight of laboratories that handle hazardous materials.

WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLAN: Del. Michael Hough and former state Sen. Alex Mooney consider themselves conservative Republicans, but neither sides with the all-Republican Board of County Commissioners on the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project in Frederick County. Both oppose the plan, writes Pete McCarthy for the Frederick News Post.

LIBEL SUIT THREAT: Three of Arundel County Executive John Leopold’s top aides have threatened to sue a co-worker for libel after she accused them of sexual harassment, spying and destroying documents, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.

LEOPOLD PRIVATE COUNSEL: County Exec Leopold got private counsel to defend himself in the federal lawsuit filed by his former media liaison, Allison Bourg reports in the Capital-Gazette.