October 24, 2012

State Roundup, October 24, 2012

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VOTE EARLY: In urging Marylanders to take advantage of early voting, the opinionators at the Frederick News-Post write, “Early voting is not an option for everyone, but for many voters it is a great alternative. When you vote early, you avoid the many unforeseen problems that can thwart your attempt to vote on Election Day.”

O’M’S MARCH FOR EARLY VOTING: The Post’s John Wagner blogs that Gov. O’Malley’s semi-retired Celtic rock band, which seems to be surfacing quite a bit lately, is booked Saturday at an event in Silver Spring promoting early voting.

POLL WATCHDOGS: The Maryland Democratic Party and some of its top elected officials are complaining that a Maryland voter watchdog group is training people in voter suppression. Election Integrity Maryland, an offshoot of the Texas-based TRUEtheVOTE, has trained up to 200 poll watchers across the state to monitor what should be one of Maryland’s most contentious elections in memory, writes Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com.

REDISTRICTING: Robert Lang of WBAL-AM reports on the fight against redistricting that crossed color lines and united some Republicans and Democrats throughout the state. There’s also a video interview with Republican activist Tony Campbell as well as audio files of interviews with those for and against the new map, Comptroller Peter Franchot and with U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes who speaks about his new district.

MARRIAGE VIEWPOINTS: Dan Rodricks, on WYPR-FM, hears from both sides of the Civil Marriage Protection Act that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Maryland, speaking to Derek McCoy, leader of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, and Del. Maggie McIntosh.

DUTCH FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY: David Moon of Maryland Juice writes that U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger has finally come out for marriage equality, but wonders where U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings stands on the issue.

DREAM ACT: Some see hope, others see a drain on state resources as Marylanders consider upholding the Dream Act, which would give in-state tuition to some illegal immigrants, reports Matthew Hay Brown in the Sun.

DREAM TO COURT: If a controversial ballot question passes next month, state Del. Pat McDonough said Tuesday, the first thing he will do on Nov. 7 would be to start readying a case for federal court, reports Tyler Waldman in Patch.com. “It won’t be over on Nov. 6, probably no matter what happens, no matter who loses,” he said.

IMPROPER POLITICAL USE: The Baltimore school system is looking into whether an event held at a public charter school to promote passage of the Dream Act, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot, was an improper use of facilities to promote a political cause, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

PROBE OF MO CO FUND USE: The Maryland state prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation into whether Montgomery County officials improperly used county resources during two ongoing referendum campaigns, blogs Victor Zapana in the Post. The ballot measures involve a local police labor law and a county hiring authority for people with severe disabilities.

The use of public funds — instead of money raised by a ballot issue committee — to campaign for the measure may violate election law and result in a fine of up to $25,000 and up to a year in prison, State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said in a letter to the Montgomery County Council and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, writes Rachel Baye in the Washington Examiner.

GAMBLE ON ADS: Sun editorialist Andy Green writes about the latest – and amusing – pro-gambling expansion ad and the silly response that anti-gambling forces have issued and the silly response to the response that the pro-gambling forces have issued.

DELEGATE REPLACEMENTS: Prince George’s Democrats are poised to replace two members of the House of Delegates who have stepped aside in recent weeks, writes Miranda Spivack for the Post. One is Del. Tiffany Alston, who was suspended from office for misconduct earlier this month. In June, Alston was found guilty of misconduct in office and of stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her law firm.

O’MALLEY DIPS IN POLL: About half of Maryland voters say they approve of the job Gov. Martin O’Malley is doing, his lowest rating in a Washington Post poll since taking office, report Scott Clement and John Wagner of the Post. Forty-nine percent of registered voters approve of O’Malley’s job performance, while 41% disapprove.

HOW TO STAY MINORITY PARTY: Republicans in Maryland often wonder why they lose, opines columnist Marta Mossburg in the Sun. The letter sent last week by Michael Steele and Audrey Scott to Maryland Republicans urging them to vote for expanded gambling is a perfect example of how the party solidifies its minority status.

3rd DISTRICT: Elisha Sauers of the Capital Gazette profiles Republican 3rd Congressional District Republican candidate Eric Knowles and incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, finding stark differences in background and world-views.

6th DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who is fighting for political survival in the competitive 6th Congressional District against Democrat John Delaney, said during a televised debate Tuesday that he is conflicted about an upcoming ballot question that would let some illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland schools, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

CITY QUESTION K: Adam Meister blogs about Baltimore City’s referendum, Question K, which would change the timing of local elections to coincide with state and national ones. But he urges people to vote against it, writing, “The current system and the proposed Question K system gives our leaders unnecessary job security and decreases the chances of new blood entering the local or state political system.”

CHARTER FOR FREDERICK? Pete McCarthy and Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post continue looking at charter government for Frederick and whether having a county executive would give the county an in with the governor and other county executives.

LEOPOLD’S BILL: Private counsel for Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold has charged the county government more than $42,000 for work on a federal discrimination and retaliation case brought by a former county media liaison, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

LEGISLATORS’ HELP SOUGHT: Canal Place leaders looking for cash to help stabilize and repair the Footer Dye Works building in Cumberland turned to local legislators for help and guidance at an informal meeting Tuesday. Legislators emphasized the need for a clear plan for the building and preferably a commitment from a developer to make a case for state funding, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times-News.