December 17, 2012

State Roundup, December 17, 2012

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FISCAL CLIFF & MD: Regardless of whether the president and Congress strike a deal or take the nation headfirst over the “fiscal cliff,” federal taxes for some Marylanders will increase next year — and under some scenarios the pain could be worse than in other states, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

POOR CHILDREN: In an op-ed for the Sun, children’s advocates Rebecca Wagner and Bruce Lesley write that as the federal “fiscal cliff” approaches, the plight of Maryland’s children has largely been ignored. The stakes are immense, with one out of seven living in poverty.

FLEXIBILITY FOR THE BUDGET: Ed Waters of the Frederick News-Post reports that several member of the state delegation to Annapolis told the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce that flexibility is the key to keeping Maryland’s budget on track.

TRANSPORTATION CHIEF: Beverly Swaim-Staley announced in April that she would be leaving her post as Maryland’s secretary of transportation. Nearly eight months later, Gov. Martin O’Malley has yet to name a replacement for one of the most important positions in state government, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

GOP TAKES LEAD: A new analysis of Maryland’s political landscape shows that while seven of the state’s eight U.S. representatives and both its U.S. senators are Democrats, a slim majority of local elected officials are Republicans, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times

DWYER DROPS SENATE RUN: Del. Don Dwyer, the Pasadena delegate who admitted to drinking before the powerboat he was steering wrecked on the Magothy River, injuring himself and others, including children, has dropped plans to run for state Senate in 2014, reports Tim Prudente for the Capital-Gazette.

O’MALLEY’S CLOUT: Coming off some high-profile victories on last month’s ballot in Maryland, Gov. O’Malley’s clout could hardly be higher heading into the coming legislative session, writes John Wagner in the Post. The question is: Will he use it?

ASSAULT WEAPONS: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that the Newtown murders are a tragic indication that it’s time Americans stepped up and put a roadblock between mental illness and assault weapons.

GUN TURN-IN: A total of 461 guns were collected in exchange for $50,000 in gift certificates to a Baltimore City grocery chain, according to a press release. Sean Walsh of Patch.com writes that one day after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, city police collected the weapons during the Goods For Guns initiative.

GAS PRICES: 2012 will end with the highest annual average gas price ever recorded in the United States, beating last year’s $3.51 per gallon. According to AAA, $3.62 was the annual average as of Wednesday, and that number is unlikely to drop by much, even though national gas prices are on the decline, Courtney Pomeroy reports for the Frederick News Post. Maryland is almost dead center when it comes to average gas prices by state, according to GasBuddy.com.

BONGINO FOR COUNTY EXEC: Throw another Republican name in the mix for county executive in 2014, writes Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette. Dan Bongino, who lost a bid for U.S. Senate in November to incumbent Ben Cardin, said he is considering a run for Anne Arundel’s top elected spot.

LEOPOLD TRIAL: About 320 Anne Arundel County residents were scheduled to complete jury questionnaires Friday in preparation for the upcoming criminal trial of County Executive John Leopold, writes Andrea Siegel in the Sun.

DISASTER AID: Scott Calvert of the Sun reports that granting an appeal by Gov. O’Malley, the Obama administration reversed course Friday and approved disaster aid for Somerset County residents who suffered damage from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy.

PG SCHOOLS: They lined up at the microphone at a community meeting one recent evening to give their to-do list to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post. It was the usual suburban fare: sidewalks, sewers, safety. But one issue kept coming up: What was Baker planning to do about the ailing public schools?

SPEED CAMERA ERRORS: Baltimore City’s speed camera contractor disclosed Friday that several of the city’s automated cameras have been wrongly ticketing roughly one of every 20 passing cars and trucks, writes Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert for the Sun.

CARROLL GROWTH: The Carroll County Board of Commissioners will have to wait until March to see what lines have been drawn to designate which areas on the county map are planned for growth, preservation and development for the future, Christian Alexandersen reports in the Carroll County Times.

POST PAYWALL? Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton writes that the Post is closer to charging you for online news than it was only nine months ago, when he last wrote about this subject. But the decision is not final. He cites the Wall Street Journal and the Post as sources.