September 24, 2012

State Roundup, September 24, 2012

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MARYLAND & OBAMACARE: Tina Reed of the Capital-Gazette explores what happens to Maryland patients should the GOP repeal Obamacare, the health care program.

LESSONS IN FARMING: Several farmers spent a few hours away from their work Thursday to educate visiting Maryland state senators about the inner workings of agribusiness. Seven of 10 members of the senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee toured the farms to acquaint themselves with the challenges and opportunities on various types of farms, reports Ike Wilson of the Frederick News-Post.

MARC OPERATOR: The O’Malley administration has chosen a Canadian company to operate two MARC commuter train lines, passing over a competitor whose critics have tied it to Nazi Germany and avoiding a potential fight with Holocaust survivors, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.

THE REFERENDUMS: When Marylanders head to the polls on Nov. 6 the choices they make, the ones that will impact their neighbors the most, don’t have anything to do with elected office, writes Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times.

GAY MARRIAGE: The Rev. Al Sharpton and prominent African-American clergy on Friday urged black voters to set aside their personal and religious views on gay marriage and think of Maryland’s November ballot referendum as a question of civil rights that follows blacks’ own struggle for equal treatment under the law, writes Aaron Davis of the Post.

Brian Witte of the AP writes in the Salisbury Daily Times that the Rev. Delman Coates of Clinton, Md., said that the issue has been mired in a theological debate for too long and that while it’s a legitimate question for people of faith to have, it should be discussed in a religious setting. Marriage equality, he said, is primarily a public policy issue — not a theological one.

Freedom to Marry, a national pro-gay rights group, has opened a political action committee in Maryland, and will start raising money here, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

Carrie Ann Knauer of the Carroll County Times writes that opponents of the Civil Marriage Protection Act say the issue is less about the rights of individuals and more about what they believe is fundamentally right when it comes to the definition of marriage.

REDISTRICTING: In an op-ed in the Frederick News-Post, Brent Grimes wonders why, in an already deep blue state such as Maryland, Democrats should question the consequences of upholding redistricting on Nov. 6.

IMMIGRATION: At a ceremony in the shadow of Camden Yards, 48 new Americans made it their first act as citizens to pledge allegiance to a flag flapping in a stiff afternoon breeze, writes the Sun’s Ian Duncan. The ceremony was held to open the National Immigrant Integration Conference, in which the national DREAM Act was a topic of discussion.

GAMBLING CAMPAIGNS: In barely a month, companies with competing stakes in the future of casino gambling in Maryland have already poured more than $20.5 million into the November referendum effort, nearly as much as the candidates spent over the course of the state’s last governor’s race, writes John Wagner of the Post.

VOTER ROLLS CLEANUP: A new, national voter registration data exchange Maryland joined earlier this year to help clean up its voter rolls will not deliver necessary data to the State Board of Elections in time to scrub the lists before the Nov. 6 elections, Glynis Kazanjian writes in MarylandReport.com.

JOBLESS RATE: A five-month stretch of job losses in Maryland ended in August with a small gain, too meager to keep the state’s unemployment rate from ticking up to 7.1%, writes Jamie Smith Hopkins in the Sun.

MOONEY’S ERROR: Alex Mooney, the chair of the Maryland Republican Party, admits he erred by not disavowing his congressional campaign before he started working part-time for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in June, Steve Kilar writes in the Sun.

INDEPENDENT SEEKS CARDIN SEAT: Arguing that the two-party system is corrupt, a Montgomery County businessman is pouring his own money into an independent bid for the U.S. Senate from Maryland to unseat Ben Cardin, reports Matthew Hay Brown in the Sun.

FACT-CHECKING SOBHANI: Tim Pratt, in the Capital-Gazette’s Fact-Checker column, addresses the claim by U.S. Senate candidate Rob Sobhani, a Montgomery County resident who is running as an independent. He said that if he is elected he will find new markets for $1 billion worth of Maryland exports, resulting in 7,000 new jobs. Is that possible?

GOP ATTACKS O’MALLEY IN N.C.: Gov. Martin O’Malley was greeted in North Carolina on Thursday with a video produced by the Republican Governors Association highlighting the tax increases he has supported in Maryland, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

ULMAN CAMPAIGNS: Kenneth Ulman, Democratic county executive of Howard County, was in Chestertown Sept. 14, promoting a prospective run to succeed Martin O’Malley as governor, reports Peter Heck for the Easton Star-Democrat.

PEPCO STRIKE? Victor Zapana of the Post reports that a new contract between Pepco and its 1,150 linemen, electricians and other workers has stalled for months, and union leaders said they’re worried that the first strike in 27 years could soon happen.

PENSION MESS: It’s common for a business that has discovered a billing error — in a customer’s favor — to demand that the customer pay up. After all, customers who have been overbilled want refunds, so fair is fair. But what about the case of four part-time Anne Arundel County workers who erroneously have been collecting 100% of their pensions because they were told they could?

FREDERICK MONEY CHALLENGE: A former Frederick County commissioner is challenging current board members to put their money where their mouths are. Lennie Thompson Jr. has asked four of the five commissioners to sign a personal guarantee that would put each of them on the hook financially should approved rights and responsibilities agreements with developers fail, reports Pete McCarthy for the Frederick News-Post.