September 18, 2012

State Roundup, September 18, 2012

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BLACK CLERGY FOR GAY MARRIAGE: Black clergy from across the country are planning to announce their support for same-sex marriage in Maryland this week, hoping that their public display of support will help erase the perception that all black pastors are against gay marriage, Hayley Peterson reports for the Washington Examiner.

DNA SAMPLING: A bipartisan group of Maryland lawmakers yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a state law that allows police to collect DNA samples from those arrested for violent crimes and some burglaries, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

GAMBLING LOBBY: Michael Dresser reports in the Sun that disclosure reports filed Monday indicate that casino owners, labor and other interests spent more than $3.6 million to influence lawmakers during last month‘s special session to expand gambling in Maryland — a figure that comes to about $900,000 a day for the four-day session. A Washington-area labor organization poured $2.7 million into that fight.

EDUCATION FUNDS: While a ballot initiative expanding gambling in the state has been heralded as a measure that would generate more money for education, officials said added casino revenue will not boost its funds, writes Jim Bach in the Diamondback.

ON GAMING, GAY MARRIAGE: Danny Jacobs and Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record discuss gambling, gay marriage and fracking in this podcast.

REVENUE WORRIES: May tax hikes are helping drive a $181 million uptick in Maryland revenues forecast this fiscal year, the Board of Revenue Estimates determined yesterday. But state financial officials are still concerned that Congress has not acted to keep the national budget from falling off a fiscal cliff in 2013, with expiring tax cuts and mandatory spending reductions sending the economy into a second recession, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

PIT BULLS SURRENDERED: More pit bulls are being surrendered to shelters since a Maryland court ruled the purebred dogs “inherently dangerous” and decided not only dog owners but property owners are now liable for pit bull related incidents, writes CNS’s Sophie Petitt in the Capital Gazette.The shelters, meanwhile, are struggling to find people to adopt the dogs.

TRAFFIC SIGNAL LAW: Brett Lake of the Carroll County Times reports that, beginning Oct. 1, motorists in Maryland will have to heed to a new law when at an intersection with a non-functioning traffic signal. The law outlines the steps drivers must take when their vehicle approaches an out-of-work signal and when they are allowed to drive through.

POLL WATCHING: Poll watchers and challengers are an integral part of the Maryland election system and the laws that govern it and provide an added level of protection against irregularities at the polls, Cathy Kelleher of Election Integrity Maryland writes on the op-ed page of the Sun.

TWEETING POLS: Maryland politicians realize how important social networking can be to a campaign, and this election season many candidates are taking advantage of social media as a way to connect and communicate, writes Emilie Eastman for the Capital Gazette. Exactly how do local candidates employ social media? To promote policy? To release campaign news? To connect with the electorate on a more personal level? The answer is all of the above.

NEW LABOR SECRETARY: Gov. Martin O’Malley has named Leonard Howie as the state’s next secretary of labor, writes Pamela Wood in the Capital Gazette.

MIZEUR FOR GOV? David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs that Del. Heather Mizeur has talked openly of running for governor among LGBT activists and within fundraising circles for weeks now. But a clearer sign that she’s really going for it, is that Mizeur is on the campaign trail speaking alongside the previously known 2014 candidates (Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, Ken Ulman and Peter Franchot)

KURTZ ON BROWN: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes an effusively glowing piece about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and his chances for being elected the next governor of Maryland.

GOP GATHERING: One is a fourth-term state senator. The other, a small business owner. Though their political experience varies greatly, the two Republicans share the same goal: Unseat the Democratic incumbents in their congressional districts and make changes in the Capitol. Lindsey McPherson of the Columbia Flier writes about the weekend gathering of Republican candidates.

DEMS RALLY AROUND LaFERLA: The Maryland Democratic Party has endorsed the write-in candidacy of Eastern Shore physician John LaFerla to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District, reports Matthew Hay Brown in the Sun.

C. Benjamin Ford of the Gazette quotes LaFerla as saying, “We’re pulling a team together very quickly here. I did three events already.”

A 2nd WRITE-IN CANDIDATE: It looks like there actually will be two write-in candidates joining the race against U.S. Rep. Andy Harris after Democrat Wendy Rosen’s departure from the campaign trail — and former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest is not one of them, report Daniel Divilio and Gail Dean of the Easton Star-DemocratSalisbury Daily Times.

PERSONAL INJURY LAW: The collapse of a soccer goal on a Howard County practice field has led the state’s highest court to reconsider more than 150 years of personal injury law, in a case that could significantly improve injured plaintiffs’ chances of winning payouts, writes Ian Duncan in the Sun. But the General Assembly has taken up the issue of changing the standard numerous times in the past but never made much progress.

MOCO DEMS ON REDISTRICTING: Montgomery County Democratic leaders might call for local party members to oppose a congressional district map drawn and approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly at a meeting tomorrow. They also have recommended the party oppose an expansion of gambling, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.