December 21, 2012

State Roundup, December 21, 2012

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PENN NATIONAL & PRINCE GEORGE’S: Penn National Gaming, which spent more than $40 million trying to persuade Maryland voters to defeat a gambling expansion plan, said yesterday it is considering a bid to operate a new casino in Prince George’s County allowed by the measure’s passage, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

GAY MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Gov. Martin O’Malley sent a directive to his cabinet yesterday requesting all state agencies “work expeditiously” to give equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in Maryland, blogs Erin Cox for the Sun.

GUN VIOLENCE: Columnist Mitch Edelman of the Carroll County Times offers a multi-pronged approach to trying to prevent murders such as we saw one week ago at the Newtown, CT, elementary school.

The editorial board of the Sun opines that assault weapons bans are a good start to ending gun violence nationwide, but Maryland needs tougher laws on its books governing handguns as well.

MENTAL HEALTH BILLS: Maryland legislators are expected to consider several bills to address how mentally ill citizens who attempt to buy weapons are screened by law enforcement, reports John Rydell at WBFF-TV.

CAR SAFETY FOR CHILDREN: Rachel Baye of the Washington Examiner reports that two bills expected to be introduced in Annapolis deal with child safety in cars. One would prohibit smoking in cars containing children younger than 8 years old; the other would require people caught driving drunk — with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08 — with a minor in the car to install an ignition breathalyzer in their car.

DEL. DWYER CHARGED: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that Del. Don Dwyer is facing five charges in connection with an August boat crash that sent him and six other people — including four children — to the hospital.

WENDY ROSEN CHARGED: Former Maryland congressional candidate Wendy Rosen was charged Thursday with illegally voting in two elections and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, Erin Cox and John Fritze write in the Sun.

Ben Pershing of the Post writes that Rosen was the Democratic nominee against U.S. Rep. Andy Harris until September, when she quit the race after the state Democratic Party revealed that voting records showed Rosen had been registered in both Florida and Maryland since at least 2006 and that she had cast ballots in both states.

The charges are a result of a joint investigation between the offices of State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt and the State Attorney for Pinellas County, Fla., which is the other county in which she allegedly voted, according to an article in the Easton Star-Democrat.

GETTING RID OF O’MALLEY: Some Marylanders have been wanting to get rid of O’Malley for years, and various schemes have been suggested. But none seems to make much sense, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

CHICKEN FARM WINS: The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler reports that, ruling in a bitterly contested case with national ramifications, a federal judge found yesterday that the Waterkeeper Alliance failed to prove that an Eastern Shore farm’s chicken houses were polluting a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

U.S. District Judge William Nickerson found that environmentalists did not prove that Hudson Farm in Berlin — where chickens are grown for Perdue — polluted ditches that drain to a river that feeds the Chesapeake Bay, reports Pamela Wood in the Capital-Gazette.

Waterkeeper Alliance had alleged that chicken litter from Hudson Farm in Berlin was polluting the Pocomoke River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary, and that Perdue, which contracts with the Hudson family to grow its chickens, should also be held responsible for the pollution, Gail Dean of the Easton Star-Democrat reports.

Many Marylanders remain disappointed that the University of Maryland Law School used taxpayer dollars to help provide support to the wealthy out-of-state environmental organization in its lawsuit against the Hudsons, writes Center Maryland. And they are hopeful that yesterday’s court decision will discourage the law School from making a similar misjudgment in the future, .

DELANEY COMMITTEE SEAT: Washington-area financial institutions will soon have one of their own on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee: CapitalSource Inc. founder and U.S. Rep.-elect John Delaney, reports Bryant Ruiz Switzky for the Washington Business Journal.

ILLEGAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Catonsville Developer Steve Whalen said he will plead guilty to five counts of violating campaign finance laws related to donations made to Councilman Tom Quirk, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

He was accused of channeling $7,500 in illegal contributions to a Baltimore County councilman and exceeding the total campaign contribution limit for individuals, reports Alison Knezevich of the Sun.

HOMESTEAD CREDIT: With a Dec. 31 deadline looming, eight employees in the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation are being swamped with more than 4,000 calls a day regarding a new rule affecting the Homestead Tax Credit, Holly Nunn reports in the Gazette. But only about 10% of the calls are getting through, a department official said.

DEADLOCK IN CECIL: The County Council in Cecil County is deadlocked over how to fill the seat left vacant by the new county executive, and she may get to pick the replacement herself, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

MASS MURDER: A really excellent thought provoking column on the Connecticut massacre by a psychiatrist – yes, Charles Krauthammer.