December 10, 2012

State Roundup, December 10, 2012

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WOULD-BE LOBBYISTS: Elected officials in Maryland must wait up to one year as a “cooling off” period after leaving office before they can lobby their colleagues. Not so for paid staff who can jump from public sector jobs to the world of influence peddling with nary a weekend break — an inconsistency that some in the state believe should be remedied, reports Annie Linskey in the Sun.

REGENT’S VIOLATION: University System of Maryland chancellor Brit Kirwan acknowledged Friday that the Board of Regents violated Maryland’s open meetings act by secretly convening to discuss the University of Maryland’s move to the Big Ten, but said the group was merely “confused” and “overlooked” its responsibility to inform the public of its plans, the Sun reports.

JOB GROWTH: Maryland’s job growth over the last several years has been significantly bolstered by the shift of military personnel to facilities in the state — something Gov. Martin O’Malley and other state politicians can’t take credit for, writes Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner.

EARLY VOTING EXPANSION: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com reports that State Elections administrator Linda Lamone told a seminar of state legislators and staff Thursday that any decisions to expand early voting in Maryland should be based largely on voter turnout.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS AIDED MARRIAGE FIGHT: Same-sex marriage opponents counted African-American voters as allies, expecting them to vote in the general election to overturn legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maryland. But opposition softened, especially in the face of endorsements from President Barack Obama and prominent entertainers, as well as a media campaign that included clergy, athletes and other public figures, reports CNS’ Hannah Morgan for the Capital-Gazette.

SUPREME COURT & MARRIAGE IN MD: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler says any Supreme Court decision will not nullify any same sex marriages that take place in Maryland, reports Robert Lang of WBAL-AM. He does say if the federal Defense of Marriage is upheld same sex couples would continue to be denied federal benefits.

SYNTHETIC POT: A state delegate Saturday said emergency legislation could be in order to crack down on synthetic marijuana in Frederick County and across Maryland, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News-Post.

HEROIN DEATHS RISE: Heroin overdose deaths have climbed while prescription painkiller overdose deaths have dropped in Maryland, according to a new report by the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Matt Connolly writes in the Washington Examiner.

SPEED CAMERAS: Unlike Baltimore City, whose speed camera system supplies motorists with two precise, time-stamped photos as evidence that they were violating the law, Baltimore County, Howard County and the State Highway Administration give motorists pictures with times rounded off to the second, proving only that the vehicle drove past the camera, report the Sun’s Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert.

NUTRIENT TRADING: Let’s call nutrient trading what it is: pollution trading, opines Dr. Robert Lawrence in an op-ed in the Sun. Excess nutrient pollutants in the bay lead to public health problems, just as other pollutants do. Human exposure to nitrites from excess nitrogen in drinking water can lead to “blue baby syndrome,” which can cause illness and death in babies and has been related to spontaneous abortions and increased cancer risk.

FRACKING CONFERENCE: Gigi Barnett of WJZ-TV reports about a weekend conference, sponsored by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, that looked at the pros and cons of fracking and attended by 300 people.

Del. Heather R. Mizeur told the crowd that she wanted Maryland to show others that they can hold the gas industry accountable before drilling starts, rather than trying to clean up after any environmental problems, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun.

O’MALLEY TOUTS CLINTON: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 bid for national office, said in a television interview that aired Sunday that Hillary Clinton could be “a great president” if she decides to seek the Democratic nomination, reports John Wagner in the Post.

O’MALLEY’S PAC: The O’ Say Can You See PAC, which O’Malley launched in July, has a noteworthy fundraiser scheduled tonight in Chevy Chase. Former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges is among the co-hosts of the event, for which suggested contributions start at $1,000, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

BARTLETT REFLECTS: Kaustuv Basu of the Hagerstown Herald Mail interviews outgoing U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett as he reflects on his 20 years in office. The article is topped by a video interview as well.

PETITION FOR FEMA AID: USA Today picked up on a petition from John Phoebus, a former candidate for the House of Delegates, who is asking the White House to give disaster relief aid for Crisfield, Red Maryland writes.

DUNCAN’S FUTURE: Given the generally positive reputation that Doug Duncan enjoyed during 12 years as Montgomery County’s top leader, it’s surprising how many influential people say today that they would not like to see him return as county executive, writes columnist Robert McCartney in the Post.

ROCKY GAP HOURS: Matthew Bieniek of Cumberland Times-News reports that Allegany County commissioners asked local state legislators for help with a number of proposals, including allowing the casino and related businesses at Rocky Gap to extend the hours when alcohol may be served.

GARRETT ISSUES: A majority of requests and discussion during Garrett County’s annual prelegislative meeting on Saturday at Garrett College centered around issues at Deep Creek Lake, writes Elaine Blaisdell of the Cumberland Times-News.