January 15, 2013

State Roundup, January 15, 2013

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PUSH TO REPEAL: Gov. Martin O’Malley will announce today that he will make an all-out push for repeal of the death penalty in Maryland, renewing an effort that narrowly fell short four years ago, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

The governor has long opposed capital punishment, arguing that it is costly and an ineffective deterrent, writes the Post’s John Wagner, but he has only once before sponsored a repeal bill, which fell short in 2009.

MORE GUN CONTROL: Aaron Davis of the Post reports that many liberal Maryland lawmakers are hoping for even more restrictive gun-control measures than stricter licensing of gun owners, considering such ideas as a 50% tax on bullets; mandating that gun owners purchase insurance on their weapons or giving the state police powers like federal agents to raid Maryland gun shops.

Del. Jon Cardin hopes a tax on ammunition and an annual gun registration fee will help to fund mental health services in Maryland, Matthew Bieniek writes in the Cumberland Times-News.

O’MALLEY PUSH: O’Malley was with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday at a gathering of gun policy researchers at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, when he outlined some of the strictest gun control proposals in the country, writes Erin Cox and Julie Scharper of the Sun. The Sun also has a video snippet of Bloomberg speaking at the event, in which he says that this is not a constitutional question but one of political courage.

For school safety, O’Malley wants to pay for security upgrades such as cameras, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass and buzzer entrances, according to an AP report in the Capital-Gazette. He also wants to create a Maryland Center for School Safety, to enhance coordination among law enforcement agencies.

The editorial board of the Sun opines that studies do indeed show that the governor’s proposed licensing system for handgun purchasers would help reduce the flow of weapons to criminals

HOT ISSUES: Marc Steiner and Anthony McCarthy of WEAA-FM hosts Del. Jon Cardin and Sen. E.J. Pipkin among others as they look at the 2013 Maryland legislative session, which will be grappling with some hot topics such as gun control and whether to repeal the death penalty.

WINERY TAX BREAK PLAN: Shanteé Woodards of the Capital-Gazette writes that Maryland winemakers will receive tax credits for buying everything from barrels to wine tanks, if lawmakers pass a bill up for debate again this year. The bill would allocate up to $500,000 in tax credits toward the purchase of roughly 40 pieces of equipment needed to run wineries and vineyards. But, industry officials said it is being revised and another version will be released within weeks.

CIGARETTE SMUGGLING: Cigarette smuggling has increased dramatically in Maryland over the past five years, along with cigarette tax rates, according to a study released by a conservative Michigan-based think tank. Holly Nunn of the Gazette writes that, in the study, Maryland jumped 11 spots to the No. 13 state in the nation for consumption of smuggled cigarettes.

RECYCLING PROGRAM: Maryland legislators have announced a proposal for a “beverage container rebate program,” which they say could increase the state’s recycling rate from its current rate of 22% to 75%, reports Kate Harvard in the Post.

FAST RISE: Kate Harvard of the Washington Post profiles 29-year-old Alonzo Washington and his “extremely fast” rise to prominence in the state House of Delegates.

HARRIS AS CHAIR: The Easton Star-Democrat is reporting that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris has been named chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, with the primary duty of overseeing the EPA.

  • The democrats are making the most of the Newtown calamity, not because of the disaster but strictly for politics. If O’Malley gets his gun law passed that becomes another item on his presidential resume. Given his limited intelligence he is a cold, calculating person.