October 1, 2012

State Roundup, October 1, 2012

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250 NEW LAWS: More than 250 new state laws took effect at midnight and cover everything from which children must ride in car safety seats to expanding the types of cancer treatments insurance companies must cover, reports Earl Kelly in the Capital Gazette.

New laws also will affect people hoping to work or volunteer for Wicomico County, drivers, inmates, parents, prospective taxi drivers in Ocean City and health insurance companies, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

One new law cuts the costs for patients undergoing oral chemotherapy and is named for Kathleen Mathias, the wife of state Sen. James Mathias of Ocean City, who died of breast cancer last year. Kathleen Mathias was a long-time cancer prevention advocate and founded the Worcester County chapter of the American Cancer Society in 1989.

TWO CORPSES VOTED: At least two dead voters showed up to vote at least once in a Maryland general election between 2004 and 2008, according to a voter registration watchdog group that has reviewed thousands of voter records this year, 1% of the rolls in the largest counties, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.

SUN POLL: Five weeks before the election, a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland has seen a surge of support and is now favored by likely voters, 49% to 39%, a new Baltimore Sun poll has found. But at this stage, most voters are opposed to the gambling expansion law, report Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser in the Sun. Here’s also video explaining the Sun poll. And here’s the poll in pictures.

DREAM ACT: WBFF-TV is reporting that dozens of city students were at Baltimore Freedom Academy yesterday morning, not for their education but to fight for the education of all. These Baltimore City students are spreading a message about Maryland’s DREAM Act – loud and clear, “This is not a handout, this is us transforming this country into something great.”

Aaron Davis of the Post attempts to answer questions about the effect that passing the DREAM Act may have on the state.

REMAP REFERENDUM: Maryland residents will have a special one-two punch when they go to the polls next month, voting both for congressional candidates and on a controversial map that sets new boundaries for the state’s eight congressional districts and that many see as distasteful gerrymandering, writes Aaron Davis in the Post.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: With barely five weeks until Election Day, groups on both sides of the gay marriage debate are poised to make their cases in a blitz of television ads, mailers and other appeals that will alternately try to put a human face on the relationships of gay couples and warn of the consequences of allowing them to wed, reports John Wagner in the Post.

GAMBLING EXPANSION: Spending by Penn National Gaming to defeat Maryland’s ballot measure on expanded gambling has risen to more than $18 million, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record writes that Senate President Mike Miller is expecting Penn National to spend more than double the $18 million they’ve already committed to defeating Question 7, which would allow a casino in Prince George’s County and table games at every Maryland casino.

Gambling expansion vote could influence gaming throughout region, Brandon Oland reports for the Carroll County Times.

Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times writes that, whether they think about their fun times at a casino or the negative effects of gambling, voters in the November general election will use whatever factors they need to decide if gambling will be expanded in Maryland.

$750M MORE: The O’Malley administration is seeking authorization to float $750 million more in state debt over the next five years, a move Comptroller Peter Franchot objects to as potentially triggering a property tax hike, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com. There were apparently no reporters or other observers at the meeting because there had been no public notice of the meeting as is required under the Open Meetings Act for such a body.

BAY CLEANUP: Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay isn’t just a local issue — it’s a national one with the federal government pouring millions of dollars into the effort and supervising a “pollution diet” for the waterway, writes Pamela Wood in the Capital Gazette. And the November election could lead to changes in this latest attempt to restore the health of the bay, depending on who wins control of the White House and Capitol Hill.

POULTRY FARMING: The outcome of the trial of a Delmarva Peninsula farm family, who some believe are polluting a ditch that feeds a river flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, could forever change the way chickens are raised, not only on the Eastern Shore, but across the country, reports Pamela Wood in the Capital Gazette.

THE REPLACEMENTS: As the state House of Delegates faces two vacancies with the resignation and retirement of Justin Ross and Liz Bobo, some surprising names are surfacing as replacements, blogs David Moon of Maryland Juice. About midway into the post, Moon goes further than last week’s Post, complaining about the graying leadership that clings to power for decades while talent goes unused.

GILCHREST REVISITED: Sean Bramble of the Easton Star Democrat writes that Wayne Gilchrest is back. No, the former nine-term congressman from Maryland’s 1st congressional district is not running for office. Gilchrest, who lost a GOP renomination battle in 2008 to Baltimore County resident and current officeholder Andy Harris, is enjoying his time away from politics. Instead, Gilchrest is demonstrating that the care and concern he had for the people and places of the Eastern Shore is truly genuine, not just political theater.

O’MALLEY ATTACKS: Gov. Martin O’Malley returned to the national stage yesterday after a Democratic National Convention speech that received tepid reviews, facing off with Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt over job creation and women’s issues on CNN, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

FACT-CHECKER: The Capital Gazette in its Fact-Checker column looks into the claims of Leo Wayne Dymowski, the Libertarian candidate for the seat in the 2nd Congressional District, that electric companies have given his opponent, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, nearly $70,000 in six months and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

BEREANO FACES LEAD PAINT FINE: Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano has been fined $13,000 by the Maryland Department of the Environment for allegedly violating state lead-paint regulations on two properties he owns in the capital. But Bereano disputes the state’s charges, saying the homes he rents out are lead-free, Timothy Wheeler of the Sun reports.

CITY PHONE SCANDAL: A city inspector general’s investigative report has detailed possible conflicts of interest and wasteful practices in the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun. And related emails that have been made public show a concerted effort to cut out Comptroller Joan Pratt’s office, which has traditionally controlled the phone system, and to mislead Baltimore City Council President Jack Young.

DEVELOPERS PUSH BACO REFERENDUM: Prominent developers have targeted the districts of two Baltimore County councilwomen with referendum drives to overturn recent zoning votes the developers didn’t like, writes Alison Knezevich for the Sun.

MOCO BUDGET HOLE: Montgomery County faces a $71 million — or 5.2% — budget hole next fiscal year, assuming no county employees get raises and county revenues see slight growth, the county Office of Management and Budget warned county department heads this week, reports Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner.

CECIL AUDITOR SOUGHT: Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig reports that Cecil County Commissioner Diana Broomell continued her push to hire a full-time county auditor, despite the fact that it is not budgeted for this year and is not called for in the adopted charter.