December 7, 2012

State Roundup, December 7, 2012

Print More

GETTING MARRIED: Jessie Weber and Nancy Eddy were grinning so broadly that fellow elevator passengers guessed their destination: the marriage license office. They and two of their friends were the first two same-sex couples to arrive at the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse when it opened at 8:30 a.m. All four had volunteered countless hours in the successful campaign to pass Question 6, making the documents they received yesterday more than pieces of paper, reports Jean Marbella in the Sun.

Two Frederick women became the first same-sex couple in Frederick County to receive a marriage license yesterday, writes Nicholas Stern for the Frederick News-Post.

Jane Bellmyer of the Cecil Whig reports that Carol Rakes has been waiting 18 years to get married. The Rising Sun woman is anxious to get her marriage license so she and her partner, Nancy Murray, can tie the knot. On Monday, Cecil County will begin issuing the licenses.

Nayana Davis of Patch.com writes that Timonium residents Bruce Eicher and Jorge Gaitan went to Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday afternoon to get a marriage license — at the advice of their lawyer.

GOV’s PARTY: The Post’s John Wagner writes that Gov. Martin O’Malley and his wife are planning to welcome close to 200 supporters of same-sex marriage to the governor’s mansion tonight to celebrate the arrival of gay nuptials in the Free State.

PEERING OVER THE CLIFF: Maryland legislative leaders said yesterday they are anxiously watching negotiations on the “fiscal cliff” in Washington as they decide whether to move forward on transportation funding and other priorities in the state’s upcoming 90-day session.

ECONOMIC TOUR: Comptroller Peter Franchot is heading around the state for his Economic Truth Tour to speak with business owners around the state to find out just how the economy is affecting their work. He toured a technology business in Ridgely yesterday, writes Abby Andrews of the Easton Star Democrat.

POOR POLITICAL REPUTATION: Finally, opines the editorial board of the Sun, someone understands that Maryland reputation for political corruption is less than stellar. That someone is a Prince George’s judge who ruled that the histories of former Del. Tiffany Alston nor her proposed replacement, a reformed drug dealer, would do well by the General Assembly.

ROUND-THE-CLOCK CASINOS: Starting Dec. 27, writes John Wagner of the Post, Maryland casinos will be allowed to stay open around-the-clock, the first of several changes resulting from last month’s passage of Question 7. Until now, casinos have been forced to close at 4 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. during the week.

GAMBLING IMPACT GRANTS: Two Anne Arundel County lawmakers want to protect millions in expected gambling money from being spent in neighborhoods away from the state’s largest casino, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. Their proposed bill would siphon Anne Arundel’s local impact grants, which are estimated to total $117 million over the next five years, into a separate account dedicated to improvements near Arundel Mills mall.

TIGHTEN BAY OVERSIGHT: A new report by the Environmental Integrity Project is calling for tougher state permitting and oversight to achieve Chesapeake Bay restoration goals, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

VOCABULARY SCORES: Maryland students improved their scores on a federal vocabulary exam, moving ahead of Virginia to claim the most articulate students in the region, Lisa Gartner of the Washington Examiner reports.

O’MALLEY FOR PRES? Polling on the 2016 presidential contest has already started, and Gov. Martin O’Malley has jumped out to a better-than 2-to-1 lead – over last place finisher Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. That is if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden don’t run, blogs Michael Dresser in the Sun.

MD DEM DIRECTOR LEAVING: David Sloan, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party for the last four years, said late yesterday that he is leaving that post, Michael Dresser blogs for the Sun.

DRUG SHORTAGE: Derek Valcourt of WJZ-TV reports that the University of Maryland’s women’s basketball coach helped bring the problem of prescription drug shortages to the national spotlight. Now a prominent local hospital tells Maryland lawmakers how the growing problem has impacted their work.

Maryland doctors spoke at a hearing this week before the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Health Care Delivery and Financing, outlining the severity of shortages of certain drugs, a problem affecting medical care nationwide, Holly Nunn reports in the Gazette.

DUNCAN’S RETURN: David Moon of Maryland Juice pulls together comments and commentary from different people all pondering Doug Duncan’s return to the political arena with a run to reclaim the seat of Montgomery County executive, a post he held for 12 years. Some ask if he’s now out of step with the county.

MO CO DEFENDS SIGNS: Lawyers for Montgomery County vigorously defended a controversial ordinance that requires certain anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post signs warning that the centers do not employ licensed medical personnel and urges pregnant women to “consult with a licensed health care provider,” Victor Zapana reports in the Post.

STATE OF FREDERICK CO.: Halfway through their tenure, Frederick County Commissioners sorted through a pile of facts and figures in search of their track record, writes Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post. But at the end of the State of the County address, one commissioner offered an alternative way to gauge his performance as an elected official. “Success is measured in smiles,” he said. “And a lot of people are smiling.”

BRIDGE REHAB IN CUMBERLAND: Michael Sawyers of the Cumberland Times-News reports that rehabilitation of the Interstate 68 bridge across Cumberland will begin soon after the first of the year, according to the successful $14 million bidder for the two-year project. The project was to begin a year ago, but a bid dispute caused the Maryland State Highway Administration to restructure and rebid the work.

GOP VOTERS HELPED QUESTION 6: In last Sunday’s Washington Post, Walter Johnson of the Cato Institute analyzed how Republican voters aided the passage of same-sex marriage in Maryland and other states.

CLIFF DWELLERS: Federal workers are unsure of job security as the “fiscal cliff” nears, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette. With automatic cuts looming, they say they’ve been kept in dark about what might happen.

BIG TEN MOVE: While some lawmakers are lamenting the loss of tradition in the move of the University of Maryland to the Big Ten Conference, Del. Pat McDonough is trying to prevent any loss of money that could come from the move. He is prefiling a bill that would prohibit any funding from the General Assembly to go toward the move, the Gazette’s Holly Nunn reports.

Gazette columnist Laslo Boyd says the change to the Big Ten has pluses and minuses, but is still a risky move.

CONNECTING TO LEGISLATORS: A group of students has launched a website called MyMaryland.net, where registered Maryland voters can log on and connect directly to their representatives at the state and national level, writes the Gazette’s Holly Nunn. At the moment, the site is a work in progress but should be fully operational by the time the legislative session starts in January.

TRANSPORTATION NEEDS: Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar says state officials can’t keep pushing transportation needs down the road, though they’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.

ORGAN DONORS: Blair Lee wants legislators to keep their hands off his organs, through a scheme that would make organ donation something you could only opt out of, not opt into as current law provides.

HEALTH EXCHANGE: Maryland has firmly established its Health Benefit Exchange under Obamacare and has a long-term plan in place. But 40 states, including Virginia, have not passed legislation authorizing a health benefit exchanges in their borders as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, Sam Smith writes in MarylandReporter.com