December 6, 2012

State Roundup, December 6, 2012

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MIDDLE CLASS FISCAL CLIFF: The director of federal relations for Gov. Martin O’Malley has said that a middle-class family of four could expect to see its annual taxes increase by $2,200 if Congress doesn’t act by the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff, reports Dan Dearth for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

David Hill of the Washington Times is reporting that a study by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation is finding that Maryland taxpayers would be hit with the largest federal income-tax increase in the country if Congress fails to avert the fiscal cliff, with the average U.S. family of four paying an extra $3,200.

GUV CAN PICK ALSTON REPLACEMENT: Matt Zapotosky and Miranda Spivack report for the Post that Tiffany Alston, the state legislator ousted over a misconduct in office conviction, will not get her seat back, and the former drug dealer nominated to replace her probably won’t get it, either. Instead, a Circuit Court judge has ruled that Gov. Martin O’Malley will choose who represents the 24th District. And O’Malley does not even have to wait for a recommendation from Prince George’s Democrats.

In Maryland, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun, legislative vacancies are usually decided by the local party central committee of the departing lawmaker, whose choices are binding on the governor.

FBI HQ IN PG: Laugh if you want, opines Robert McCartney in the Post. When the FBI leaves its outdated eyesore abode on Pennsylvania Avenue as planned, the right place to go is unquestionably Prince George’s.

FEDERAL DREAM ACT: Alex Kirshner of the Diamondback reports that DREAM Act advocates saw their efforts come to fruition when residents upheld a state version of the law on Election Day, but their battle hardly stops there. Supporters on the campus said now that they have cleared the first hurdle, they hope to push into law the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would provide undocumented students a pathway to citizenship if they pursue a college degree or serve in the military.

GAY WEDDINGS: Gay couples planning to wed Jan. 1 will be able to get post-dated marriage licenses as early as today in some Maryland counties, writes John Wagner in the Post.

As soon as Gov. Martin O’Malley proclaims the bill legalizing same sex-marriage as passed by voters, which is expected today, the Allegany County Circuit Clerk’s Office will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, reports Mathew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times-News.

LESS THAN EQUAL: The editorial board for the Sun writes that, under federal law, same-sex marriages in Maryland, as with those performed in other states, will still be less than equal. Because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government is prohibited from recognizing same-sex marriages, which has significant implications for taxes and Social Security survivor benefits, among other things. But that, too, could soon change.

WEDDING SERVICE QUITS: With the first legal, same-sex marriages in Maryland planned for Jan. 1, some wedding vendors are welcoming gay couples as clients. One company, though, is getting out of the wedding business because of the new law, reports Pamela Wood for the Capital-Gazette.

SANDY DAMAGE & FEMA: U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin publicly challenged yesterday a federal decision not to provide aid to Maryland residents affected by Hurricane Sandy — calling on President Barack Obama and federal emergency officials to rethink the decision, reports Kevin Rector of the Sun. Here’s Brian Russo’s report on Crisfield for NPR.

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks chimes in, writing that while the damage was limited here, it was concentrated and significant, certainly enough to justify some help. Plus, this is a blue state with a Democratic governor and two Democratic U.S. senators, one of whom gets very loud when she gets ticked off. Why would President Obama go along with this denial?

CASINO TAKE UP: Maryland’s three casinos pulled in $43.1 million in revenue in November, an increase of nearly 9% from October, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

AUDIT PENALTIES: Legislators hope to put more teeth into repeat audit findings of problems in state agencies, Sam Smith reports in MarylandReporter.com. The General Assembly’s Joint Audit Committee agreed Tuesday to recommend that budget committees consider cuts to administrative funding for agencies that have four or more repeat findings in consecutive audits.

THE BLAINE YOUNG MIX: Imagine you wanted to create the ultimate politician. Many in Harford County wouldn’t consider mixing one part Pat McDonough and two parts Jim Harkins, but I promise you, the combination isn’t as bad as it sounds, blogs “Martin Watcher” for the Dagger.

RAVENS V REDSKINS: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker are taking opposing sides on the issue of who will win this weekend’s game, the Baltimore Ravens or the Washington Redskins, writes Miranda Spivack of the Post.

PG LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: Expect the battle over liquor licenses and a disposable bag fee in Prince George’s County to be revived in the next General Assembly session, writes Alan J. McCombs for the Gazette. More than 30 bills are being considered by the county House delegation.

OPENNESS IN MO CO: The Post’s Victor Zapana is reporting that, to be more transparent, Montgomery County officials announced a comprehensive initiative yesterday to create an online constituent forum and to place all kinds of public information, including employee salaries and annual budgets, online.

CECIL CHARTER 101: Cecil Whig reporters compile an explainer, complete with video, on Cecil County’s new charter government, how it works and who’s involved.