November 30, 2012

State Roundup, November 30, 2012

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GAY MARRIAGES CAN TAKE PLACE JAN. 1: A legal hurdle has been removed for gay couples hoping to wed in Maryland at the stroke of midnight Jan. 1., the day the state’s new same-sex marriage law takes effect, writes John Wagner of the Post. In a lengthy opinion, the state attorney general’s office said it is permissible for clerks of county courts to start processing marriage licenses a few days ahead of time to facilitate New Year’s Day marriages and comply with a waiting period in Maryland law.

The Sun reports that it has been clear that Maryland’s same-sex marriage law would take effect Jan. 1, but many believed the first licenses would be issued a few days later because of the New Year holiday and a mandatory 48-hour waiting period.

MARRIAGE DONORS: A few big names and many smaller ones raised about twice as much money to earn voter approval of same-sex marriage as their opponents spent to defeat the ballot item, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

AVIATION ADMIN AUDIT: Candy Thomson of the Sun reports that a state review of the Maryland Aviation Administration, which operates BWI Marshall Airport, discovered instances where agency officials did not maintain adequate control over architectural and engineering contracts totaling $38.3 million, used unapproved subcontractors on projects, misled the Board of Public Works, did not adequately control some purchase orders and kept inadequate inventory records.

MORE IN THE KITTY: Casino interests, which spent more than $90 million leading up to the Nov. 6 election, still have $671,169 in the bank accounts of three committees behind a blitz of advertising on Question 7, the measure to expand Maryland’s gaming industry, reports Tim Prudente for the Capital-Gazette.

READY, AIM … The preparations for this weekend’s Maryland Republican Convention are in place. The firing squad for the party leaders has been forming its circle, armed with hot-air popguns, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The lynch mob for party chairman Alex Mooney has bought a bungee cord. All is normal for a party that has control of local government in half of Maryland’s counties, but gets routinely clobbered at the statewide level.

David Moon of Maryland Juice highlights several tidbits and opinions regarding the fate of the Maryland GOP and Chair Mooney. Immediately after Maryland’s Nov. 6th elections results were announced, many GOP activists condemned Mooney and his leadership of the state party.

MODEL MARYLAND: Gov. Martin O’Malley has urged President Obama to look to Maryland as a model for how government can fight climate change, while also appealing for federal help in his own quest to get wind turbines built off Ocean City, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

BAY CLEANUP CHALLENGE: The Kent County Commissioners joined with six other counties and the law firm of Funk & Bolton to challenge Maryland’s federally mandated pollution reduction plan for the Chesapeake Bay – on the grounds it does not adequately address a chronic history of nutrient and sediment discharges from the Conowingo Dam, writes Daniel Menefee in the Chestertown Spy.

RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that, while the Carroll County Board of Commissioners debates the adoption of a tier system that limits the number of new residential developments built with septic systems, plans are in the works to limit the mandate’s effects on property owners.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING: With the Thanksgiving holiday a warm, overstuffed memory, many Marylanders are now gearing up for holiday shopping and Comptroller Peter Franchot is encouraging residents to “Shop Maryland for the Holidays” this year, according to a story in the Easton Star-Democrat. Visiting local shops Tuesday in Bethesda, Franchot kicked off his annual tour throughout the state promoting small business patronage.

SECESSION GIVEBACK: As some disgruntled voters throughout the United States ponder secession, let’s also ponder what they can return to the United States government before they erect border walls, opines Paul Foer for the Capital-Gazette.

GRASSO’S RUN: Sara Blumberg and Allison Bourg of the Capital Gazette report on Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso’s announcement that he is running for Anne Arundel County executive, two years before the election. They quote Grasso as saying, “A typical politician announces his candidacy 24 hours before deadline. I’m not like the other politicians, I’m a statesman. People need to know this right now.”

RAKING IN OVERTIME: Montgomery County taxpayers are forking out almost $600,000 for overtime for county workers to vacuum up homeowners’ leaves, Kate Jacobson reports for the Washington Examiner. That works out to at least $30,000 a day just in overtime for the 14 to 18 days that leaves are collected each fall through the county’s leaf collection program.

BEACH STANDARDS: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new water-quality guidelines for recreational areas such as beaches this week, but Maryland’s own regulations already are in line with the standards, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

ALSTON SEAT: Legal challenges surrounding a controversial appointment to fill a Prince George’s vacant delegate seat are scheduled to go before a judge Tuesday, but the county’s Democratic Central Committee said this week that it’s willing to withdraw the nomination, the Gazette’s Daniel Leaderman reports.

JANUARY SESSION: Transportation and energy issues are expected to be the top priorities for lawmakers from Maryland’s more rural western, southern and eastern regions when the legislature reconvenes in January, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

GAMBLING VETS: Veterans’ groups from Montgomery County soon may be allowed to operate gambling machines in their halls, a privilege denied to them during the August special General Assembly session, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

BARTLETT EXIT: The Gazette’s Benjamin Ford has another exit interview with defeated Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

MILLER ON BIG TEN MOVE: Senate President Mike Miller, a big-time Terps alum, was consulted about the move to the Big Ten, Holly Nunn reports in the Gazette.