September 20, 2012

State Roundup, September 20, 2012

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TOLL COLLECTION: Maryland transportation officials say they are stepping up efforts to collect more than $6 million in tolls that have gone unpaid in the past five years, including hundreds of thousands owed by car rental companies that have ignored the state’s bills, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

FRANCHOT DENOUNCES ROCKY GAP: Comptroller Peter Franchot yesterday denounced a revised deal that allowed the company licensed to operate a casino at the Rocky Gap resort in Allegany County to reduce the scale of the project as a “complete bait and switch” on the part of the company, the Sun’s Michael Dresser reports.

And Bryan Sears of Patch.com ticks off some of Comptroller Franchot’s more interesting recent comments.

COUNTIES TO FIGHT AID CUT: County officials across Maryland are gearing up to push back against O’Malley administration policies that have cut state aid to the counties, piled on teacher pension costs with little say in how the pension system is run and taken away local control over land use decisions, blogs Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

DREAM ACT: Jenny Hottle of the Diamondback reports that university and state experts are saying that the University of Maryland College Park likely will not see a large influx of undocumented immigrants enrolling should voters uphold the DREAM Act in the statewide referendum in November.

GAMBLING EXPANSION: The leading advocate for expanded gambling in Maryland is upset with a series of television commercials urging voters to reject Question 7, reports John Rydell of WBFF-TV. Besides Senate President Mike Miller, Rydell also interviews Franchot concerning the ad campaigns.

GAY MARRIAGE EVENTS: Adam Lambert, the glam-rocker who rose to prominence on television’s “American Idol,” is the latest celebrity to be enlisted by the campaign to uphold Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

Annie Linskey of the Sun writes that Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is hosting a Monday Night football party on Oct. 8 to benefit same-sex marriage.

HEALTH SPENDING HIKE: Maryland’s Board of Public Works voted yesterday to increase spending authority on health care benefits for state employees by nearly $390 million, writes Sam Smith for MarylandReporter.com.

BONGINO CONFIDENT: With fewer than seven weeks until Election Day, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino expressed confidence in his challenge of incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, writes Micah Moore for the Easton Star Democrat.  “I’m sure we’re going to win this race,” Bongino said.

LAWYER SUSPENDED: An election law attorney who recently represented both Montgomery County and the Maryland Democratic Party to fight state and local ballot measures will be suspended from practicing law in Maryland indefinitely after he misappropriated more than $16,000 of his clients’ money, Rachel Baye reports in the Examiner.

ALSTON PLEA: Negotiations continued yesterday between state prosecutors and attorneys for Prince George’s Del. Tiffany Alston, who has been charged with misusing campaign money to help pay for her wedding, writes Ann Marimow in the Post.

AA PENSION FLUB: An internal audit had revealed that four workers at the Anne Arundel state’s attorney’s office were illegally collecting full pension payments while working part time. Each had been told they were allowed to do so, but when the county discovered the mistake, it threatened lawsuits to recoup a total of $229,030.83 in pension checks.

LEGAL COSTS: Allison Bourg of the Capital Gazette writes that the Anne Arundel County attorney has cautioned members of the County Council that legislation changing who pays for certain legal settlements could conflict with state law.