November 29, 2012

State Roundup, November 29, 2012

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NAACP & DEATH PENALTY: The Sun’s Michael Dresser is reporting that the NAACP is vowing to mount in Annapolis its largest-ever effort to abolish the death penalty in a state, saying Maryland’s historic role in the civil rights movement makes it an appropriate place for the push.

OFFSHORE WIND: Holly Nunn of the Gazette is reporting that Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to reintroduce a bill to provide funding for an offshore wind farm — legislation that has twice failed to make it out of the General Assembly.

POLLUTION RULES: The state is considering plans to allow developers to pay for enhanced pollution controls on other land as a way to permit them to build in areas that might be off limits under new sustainable growth rules, environment officials told lawmakers on Wednesday. Sam Smith reports in MarylandReporter.com.

STATE GROWTH: An AP report in the Capital-Gazette says that one Maryland environmental group said some counties are meeting the requirements of a new state law that limits growth, but others are not and this spotty compliance puts rural areas of the state at risk.

ORGAN DONORS: State Sen. Ron Young is proposing statewide changes so that getting a driver’s license comes with a presumed consent to organ donation. Those who do not want to be organ donors would have the opportunity to opt out, writes Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post.This change would reverse the current process, which requires people to opt in as a willing donor.

MD’S FISCAL CLIFF: Marylanders would spend nearly $3.9 billion less in 2013 if Congress fails to extend middle-class tax cuts, writes the Sun’s John Fritze about a report released by the White House that is part of a broader campaign to influence fiscal cliff negotiations.

MVA OVERTIME: The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration spent more on overtime pay at its branches in both July and August than in any month since November 2010, Rachel Baye reports in the Washington Examiner.

SAME-SEX COALITION: A broad coalition of donors — including casino giant MGM, Delta Airlines, a Washington nightclub and thousands of individuals across the country — together gave nearly $6 million to the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, providing a financial advantage that supporters say was critical to the effort’s success, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

GAMBLING PAYOUTS: Campaign finance reports filed late Tuesday showed a handful of Washington’s biggest media buying firms and Maryland political consultants benefited handsomely from the ballot-box brawl over expanding gambling — the costliest election in state history, write Aaron Davis and John Wagner in the Post.

CITY SCHOOLS PLAN: Lawmakers across Maryland lauded the Baltimore school system’s ambitious $2.4 billion blueprint to shed underused school buildings and upgrade the most dilapidated ones — calling the plan a critical first step in securing financial backing from the state, writes Erica Green in the Sun.

RODRICKS ON SPEED CAMERAS: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks takes a moment to say “I told you so,” as he recalls his earlier complaints that the speed cameras weren’t doing the job they were intended to do, like the one that nailed him 2 ½ years ago near a cemetery.

PG ACTIVISTS SUPPORT GREG HALL: Quite a few Prince George’s County activists and civic leaders are unhappy that Gov. O’Malley is citing Greg Hall’s troubled past in trying to block his appointment to the House of Delegates to replace Tiffany Alston, writes Robert McCartney in the Post. “Greg represents the dreams and aspirations of a lot of young people in Prince George’s County who get into trouble and want to turn their lives around,” says one supporter.

BAG TAX: Lawmakers from Prince George’s County once again will push for a fee on disposable bags in the upcoming General Assembly session, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette.

HYATT UNION FIGHT: “They fired me” for organizing, said Hyatt worker Mike Jones at a Baltimore rally this month hosted by Hyatt Hurts, a nationwide campaign to organize workers at the hotel chain. Jones, a 10-year employee of the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, is one of four workers there who claim they were axed in a crackdown against a unionization initiative by UNITE HERE Local 7, writes Bruce Vail for In These Times.

DUNCAN TO RUN FOR MOCO EXEC: Doug Duncan, who abruptly dropped his bid for governor six years ago after a diagnosis of depression, has told supporters that he is running for his former job as Montgomery County’s executive, reports Victor Zapana of the Post.

GRASSO OPENS EXEC CAMPAIGN: Anne Arundel County John Grasso will formally open his campaign for the county executive’s spot at an event Dec. 9 at La Fontaine Bleu – while serving up his own brand of county water, Andrea F. Siegel writes in the Sun.

LEOPOLD REFUSES TAX DEDUCTION: When Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold returned his automatic pay raise in solidarity with county workers, he also entitled himself to an income tax deduction, writes Erin Cox for the Sun. Leopold says he declined it.