December 18, 2012

State Roundup, December 18, 2012

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IN SANDY HOOK’S WAKE: Annie Linskey of the Sun reports that legislation to ban assault weapons like the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle used in the Newtown, CT, school massacre will be revived in Annapolis when the General Assembly convenes next month, according to leading lawmakers pushing to make the change. Above the story, the Sun has posted a CBS report on national activity to ban the weapons.

One bill being introduced in the upcoming 2013 legislative session by Montgomery County state Sens. Jamie Raskin and Brian Frosh would ban assault weapons like the Bushmaster rifle used in a shooting spree Friday, Holly Nunn reports in the Gazette.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Police Chief Jim Johnson have called for the banning of assault type weapons on a state and national level as well as tightening background checks and stopping the sale of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, writes Bryan Sears in Patch.com.

“This is not the time to be timid,” Kamenetz read from an open letter to Maryland’s state and federal elected officials, reports Alison Knezevich in the Sun. “We cannot sit by and do nothing.”

Maryland’s senior lawmaker, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, says the National Rifle Association must come to the table to discuss tighter gun controls, as she works with President Barack Obama and her colleagues in Congress in the wake of the deadly Connecticut school shooting, Yvonne Wenger reports in the Sun.

GUN CONTROL OPINIONS: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes, “We have allowed the gun zealots to take over. We have allowed tools of violence never imagined by the framers of the Constitution to proliferate, beyond all reason. And we have allowed deadly behavior to be repeated, over and over again, condemning but doing little about the cycle of violence.”

Law professor Maxwell Stearns, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that the argument against relying on events such as the Sandy Hook murders to discuss how our understanding of the right to bear arms has run amok rests on false premises.

Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland agrees it’s time to have a conversation on guns, but not necessarily the one that gun control enthusiasts would like us to have.

LONG-TERM RACING PLAN: After coming to a tenuous agreement last year to allow 146 days of live racing at the state’s two thoroughbred tracks, the racing industry is back with a long-term plan, Lindsey Robbins writes in the Gazette.

RUPPERSBERGER ON FISCAL CLIFF: With Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground and transportation hubs in his district, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger has a high stake in the fate of the fiscal cliff, writes Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette.

HARRIS ON FISCAL CLIFF: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris said he’s open to a limited increase in taxes, but only if it’s combined with a large decrease in federal spending, Nicole Gaudiano reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

MILLER WANTS MDOT CHIEF: The Post’s John Wagner writes that if Gov. Martin O’Malley wants a transportation funding bill to pass in the upcoming legislative session, Senate President Mike Miller has a piece of advice: Hire a transportation secretary.

SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY INDEX: The State Department of Education has unveiled a new way of assessing accountability of each school, a measure called the School Progress Index that school officials say will cut in half the percentage of non-proficient students by 2017, Joe Burris reports in the Sun.

NEW ASSEMBLY WEBSITE: The Maryland General Assembly launched its new website Monday, modernizing its look and adding several new features, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com. It also has a new web address, but users of the old address will be redirected to the site.

SUN SPARKED REIMBURSEMENT CALLS: A routine records request by the Sun sparked State House Republicans to ask that Gov. O’Malley reimburse state taxpayers for nearly $100,000 in travel costs incurred by the state police for protecting him on out-of-state trips, writes the Sun’s Annie Linskey.

GANSLER’S ONE-MAN SHOW: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland opines that it’s a bit disconcerting to have the state Attorney General as he plans his run for governor to essentially act as a one-man show.

FEMA IN CRISFIELD: Somerset County residents hoping to get federal disaster aid will be able to meet face to face with FEMA representatives starting today when a Disaster Recovery Center opens in Crisfield, Liz Holland reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN PG: A year after it was launched, Prince George’s County’s $50 million fund to spur economic development has loaned $2.4 million to six companies, leveraging $26.8 million in private investment, Miranda Spivack of the Post reports.

ARUNDEL PENSION GOOF: Nancy Hirshman won’t have to pay back more than $80,000 in pension benefits from the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, Allison Bourg writes for the Capital-Gazette. Hirshman is one of the four part-time state’s attorney’s office employees battling the county over retirement payments.