September 26, 2012

State Roundup, September 26, 2012

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POLL ON REFERENDUMS, ELECTION: A new poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies finds that Marylanders are about evenly divided over an expanded gambling proposal, while majorities say they will support same-sex marriage and an immigrant tuition measure on the November ballot, reports John Wagner in the Post.

The poll also found Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin with a comfortable 50% lead in his reelection bid against Republican Dan Bongino and independent Rob Sobhani, who are splitting the opposition. President Barack Obama, as expected, is far ahead of Gov. Mitt Romney in Maryland, with the support of 55% of those polled and 8% undecided, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

PENN-CORDISH DEAL? Penn National has spent $13 million to defeat Question 7 and protect its gambling interests in Maryland. Now it may be altering its strategy. The Pennsylvania-based company, which owns Hollywood Casino Perryville, is in discussions with the Cordish Cos. about acquiring a 49% stake in the Maryland Live Casino, writes Annie Linskey and Chris Corman in the Sun.

The arrangement has the potential not only to shake up the ownership structure of Maryland’s fledgling casino industry, reports John Wagner in the Post, but to affect an ongoing campaign over a gambling-expansion plan that will appear on the state’s November ballot.

$24M GAMBLING FIGHT: Casino operators have poured more than $24 million into a fight over a ballot measure that would expand gambling in Maryland, Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner writes.

MARRIAGE CAMPAIGN: Gov. Martin O’Malley urged people to hit the streets on behalf of marriage equality at a fundraiser Sunday at Kensington Town Hall. The event raised $17,175 for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a 147-member coalition working to support Question 6, writes Jessica Ablamsky for the Gazette.

STOPPING REDISTRICTING: Redistricting can still be stopped, writes Common Cause’s Phil Andrews in an op-ed in the Post. All you have to do is vote against Ballot Question 5 on Election Day. Rejection wouldn’t affect this year’s congressional results, but it would require the governor and General Assembly to, at the very least, redraw the congressional districts for the 2014 elections.

ALSTON LAW LICENSE PULLED: Maryland’s highest court has suspended the law license of state Del. Tiffany Alston, who is already facing a separate set of legal troubles over her reported misuse of state funds, reports David Hill in the Washington Times.

MTA COMPUTER GLITCH: Drivers across Maryland had trouble renewing their licenses Monday and Tuesday because of a computer glitch at the Motor Vehicle Administration, reports Candy Thomson of the Sun.

SCOOTERS GROW UP: It makes sense to bring scooters and their older cousins, mo-peds, into the fold, writes the opinionators at the Salisbury Daily Times. This will force scooter operators to protect their heads, learn at least something about safe operations in various existing traffic situations and carry insurance to help with expenses should the worst-case scenario come true.

SCHOOLS NO. 1 IN WHAT? Attorney George Liebmann opines in an op-ed in the Sun that if you take a close look at what Maryland schools are No. 1 for, it’s not student achievement. It’s based on what goes into the public school system not what comes out of it.

FRANCHOT TOUR: Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat reports that Comptroller Peter Franchot met with employees, board members and former clients of Channel Marker Inc. in Easton Tuesday as part of his statewide Economic Truth Tour. The tour will stop in all 24 counties of Maryland as a way for Franchot to learn directly from the “front lines” of local businesses about how they’re doing in the current “soft” economic state.

GRASSROOTS MONEY: U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Towson Democrat who represents part of Howard County, has introduced a bill in Congress aimed at encouraging politicians to choose to use grassroots donations, not special interests, to fund their campaigns, reports Lindsey McPherson in the Howard County Times.

COMPLAINT AGAINST MOONEY: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post reports that Maryland Democrats have filed an ethics complaint against a member of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s staff, requesting an investigation into the conduct of Alex Mooney, who began working for Bartlett several months after filing for candidacy in the congressman’s district.

EHRLICH BACKS BONGINO: Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced his endorsement of Dan Bongino, Maryland’s Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, according to a news brief in the Easton Star Democrat. “Dan has the unmatched integrity and unique depth of experience necessary to defeat an entrenched incumbent like Sen. Cardin,” said Ehrlich.

CARDIN BACKS LAFERLA: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin led a pack of local Democrats who spotlighted John LaFerla’s commitment to women’s health issues, the environment and protecting Social Security and Medicare as they endorsed his write-in candidacy against incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, writes Daniel Menefee in the Chesterstown Spy.

LEOPOLD’S LAWYER TAB: Anne Arundel County hired a private, $450-an-hour lawyer to defend County Executive John Leopold in a discrimination lawsuit, ringing up a $20,743 bill to taxpayers within two weeks and raising questions about whether the embattled politician should pay the growing tab, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.

ENGLISH IN CARROLL: The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has always debated, voted and taken official actions in English. A new ordinance being proposed by Commissioner Haven Shoemaker wants to keep it that way by designating English as the official language of Carroll County, reports Christian Alexandersen in the Carroll County Times.

FARMING IN ST. MARY’S: St. Mary’s County commissioners took a tour of three farms this week, where they were told at one farm that development is still encroaching on agriculture and more funding is needed to preserve farmland, writes Jason Babcock of SoMdNews.com.