November 19, 2012

State Roundup, November 19, 2012

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BARTLETT BEGINS GOODBYES: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett began his unsuccessful campaign for another term with an unusual meeting: A one-on-one chat over dinner with his Democratic rival, reports John Fritze for the Sun. His cordial relationship with John Delaney — and his final campaign — is a reflection of his style during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, several Democrats and Republicans said.

As he prepares to leave Washington after 20 years, the former NASA scientist, inventor and farmer who sought office more as a retirement pursuit than a lifelong career said it is time for Congress to finally learn how to compromise or risk sending the nation down a path to ruin, reports David Hill of the Washington Times Examiner.

Democratic gerrymandering and sparse support from fellow Republicans cost Bartlett his 6th Congressional District seat, Bartlett told AP reporter David Dishneau in a story in the Cumberland Times-News.

DELAY SOUGHT IN ALSTON SUB: Gov. Martin O’Malley has asked Prince George’s County Democrats to withdraw the name of businessman Greg Hall to replace Tiffany Alston in the House of Delegates until the state’s attorney general rules on whether the seat is actually vacant, writes Miranda Spivack in the Post.

HOWARD PROSECUTOR TO PROBE DWYER CRASH: To avoid any potential conflict of interest, a prosecutor from Howard County has been assigned to aid investigations into the August boat crash involving Del. Don Dwyer, Tim Prudente of the Capital-Gazette reports. Dwyer admitted his blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash. Investigators insist criminal charges will be filed, though they have not yet determined who is to blame.

OFFICE FOR CHILDREN: Gov. Martin O’Malley on Friday appointed the director of the “No Kid Hungry” state campaign to lead the Governor’s Office for Children, reports Yvonne Wenger of the Sun.

NO TO PARTY POLITICS, YES TO DEBT-REPAIR: They squared off against one another in two bitter statewide campaigns, but loyalists of Gov. O’Malley (D) and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) have found a cause on which they can lock arms: federal debt reduction, reports John Wagner in the Post.

The bipartisan coalition of business leaders and high-profile political aides — including the former chiefs of staff to O’Malley and Ehrlich — are launching a state chapter of the national Campaign to Fix the Debt, reports John Fritze in the Sun. The organization is pressing Congress to put party politics aside and quickly resolve spiraling budget deficits.

TRANSIT MONEY DRYING UP: Maryland and Virginia are running out of money to pay for road and transit projects, and some experts warn that without new taxes, tolls or partnerships with private companies, it won’t be long before the states can’t afford to plug potholes, report Rachel Baye and Steve Contorno for the Washington Examiner.

Maryland’s transportation trust fund has been used for more than 20 years to balance the budget in tough times, blogs Rachel Baye in the Examiner. Transportation advocates have been urging the state to put the trust fund in a lockbox, preventing the money from going to anything other than transportation.

CASHING IN ON CASINOS: Aaron Davis and T.W. Farnam of the Post report that, in a matter of weeks leading up to Election Day, a tight circle of Washington’s biggest media-buying firms with close ties to top Democrats and Republicans cashed in on the fight over whether to build a casino on the edge of the nation’s capital.

BINGO DOWNTURN: Commercial bingo once did a booming business in Anne Arundel County, where thousands of players from all over the area packed into a half-dozen halls on any given night to gamble and gab, writes J. Freedom du Lac for the Post. Since the $500 million Maryland Live casino opened in June at Arundel Mills, year-over-year bingo business in Anne Arundel is down by about 25%, the comptroller’s office estimates.

DREAM ACT: Educating students remains the bottom line for Frederick County schools after state voters approved a law that allows qualifying illegal immigrants to attend college paying in-state rates, Nicholas Stern writes in the Frederick News-Post.

BABY BUMPER BAN: Maryland health officials have published final regulations to prohibit the sale of decorative bumpers that line the inside of baby cribs, making this the first state with such a ban, reports Andrea Walker in the Sun. The regulations issued by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene go into effect June 21.

GROWTH PLANS: Wicomico County officials are looking at all their options before adopting, or possibly not adopting, a four-tier system determining where future development can occur, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. The state law under consideration requires all Maryland counties to divide their land into four classifications based on use, availability of public water and sewer and anticipated growth.

COMPOUNDING OVERSIGHT: The state board that regulates Maryland pharmacies like the Massachusetts firm under investigation in a national fungal meningitis outbreak said it can adequately oversee so-called compounding pharmacies, despite cries from critics that the federal government should have more authority, writes Andrea Walker in the Sun.

SNOWDEN TRIAL: The jury in the marijuana possession case against Annapolis civil rights leader Carl Snowden will hear testimony that the drugs belonged to his co-defendant, Allison Bourg reports in the Capital-Gazette.