November 26, 2012

State Roundup, November 26, 2012

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CLOSED DECISION ON BIG 10: While questions about the University of Maryland’s decision to join the Big Ten seemed to dissipate when school leaders explained the financial benefits of the move, doubts remain about the lack of openness of the process used to reach the conclusion, report Jeff Barker and Chris Korman for the Sun.

REAL ID: It was a popular idea five years ago: make sure every state had high-security driver’s licenses to thwart terrorism at airports. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Real ID system faces opposition from states still reeling from recession, according to an AP story in the Sun. The deadline for compliance has been extended twice, until Jan. 15, and may be extended again.

DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: Coming off some high-profile wins at the ballot box this month, Gov. Martin O’Malley is considering another run at repealing the death penalty when lawmakers reconvene in January, aides say. It’s an issue that could add to his progressive legacy, writes John Wagner in the Post.

HIKE THE CIGARETTE TAX: Every time Maryland has raised its cigarette tax, which now stands at $2 a pack, smoking has gone down and lives have been saved, writes the editorial board for the Sun as it backs raising the cigarette tax by $1 more per pack.

NO TAX ON CYBER MONDAY: As Marylanders join millions of others nationwide in the computer shopping blitz that’s become known as Cyber Monday, they might want to think about this: If they paid the sales tax they owe to the state for such purchases, Maryland would be $200 million richer. But virtually no one pays, and the state’s top tax enforcement officer doesn’t believe they should, writes CNS’s Chris Leyden for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

SPEED THE VOTE: Lawmakers in Congress and the Maryland General Assembly say they are considering a broad range of ideas, such as increasing the number of early voting centers available in high-population jurisdictions and offering federal grants to states that find ways to streamline the voting process, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

NEXT STEPS FOR DELANEY: When John Delaney was chief executive of a commercial lending firm, he closed a billion-dollar deal in 10 weeks. He may soon find out that things don’t move as quickly on Capitol Hill, Danielle Douglas and Ben Pershing report in the Post.

BARTLETT & DELANEY: As Roscoe Bartlett looks back at his years in the House of Representatives, his successor, John Delaney, plans ahead, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post.

CALLS FOR MOONEY TO QUIT: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that, after the sound drubbing Maryland Republicans received at the ballot box this month, a faction in the state GOP, including those at Red Maryland, is calling for the resignation of state party Chairman Alex Mooney.

Writing in reply to Mooney’s defense in the Sun, Richard Vatz writes in Red Maryland why he believes Mooney should resign his job as head of the state Republican Party.

ALSTON SUCCESSOR: Prince George’s County Democrats are pressing Gov. O’Malley to sign off on the man nominated to succeed former state Del. Tiffany Alston. The governor has balked at the selection of local businessman Greg Hall, whose troubled past includes drug dealing and a handgun conviction from two decades ago, reports Ann Marimow for the Post.

LEGGETT MAY RUN AGAIN: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said he may run for re-election, a change from his declaration after he won in 2010 that he would not seek another term, reports Kate Jacobson for the Washington Examiner.

CARROLL’S ENGLISH: It was the Armenian threat that caused Carroll County Commissioner Haven Shoemaker to act, reports Frederick Kunkle for the Post. After hearing that a Washington suburb had spent a fortune translating some land-use documents into Armenian, Shoemaker proposed an ordinance that would make English the county’s official language.