January 28, 2013

State Roundup, January 28, 2013

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GUN CONTROL: The Post’s Aaron Davis and Michael Laris report that Virginia, home to the National Rifle Association’s headquarters, the Nation’s Gun Show and a conservative legislature, is by many measures a more gun-friendly state than Maryland. But residents of the commonwealth are almost three times as likely to be banned from owning a firearm for mental health reasons as residents of Maryland, which has been reluctant to restrict the rights of the mentally ill.

Alan McCombs of the Gazette reports that many residents at a meeting held by Bowie representatives to the state General Assembly decried recent legislative discussions aimed at gun control.

DELAY IN BACKGROUND CHECKS: Rashee Raj Kumar of the Capital News Service reports that Maryland State Police are taking three times longer than usual to finish background checks on new gun purchases, gun dealers are saying.

PETITION PROCESS: Several bills are being drafted that would alter the petition process, including one that would effectively triple the number of signatures required to force a public vote, John Wagner reports in the Post.

REDISTRICTING PROPOSAL: Sen. Paul Pinsky would like to reform the redistricting process in Maryland without the “unilateral disarmament” that would undermine getting Democrats elected to Congress while Republican-controlled legislatures in other states continued to gerrymander for partisan gain, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

BILL WOULD BAN FRACKING: A bill that would ban the practice needed to drill for natural gas in Western Maryland has been introduced in the General Assembly, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News. House Bill 337 would prohibit “a person from engaging in the hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration or production of natural gas in the state,” according to the language of the bill.

GAS TAX REPEAL, GAS TAX HIKE: Virginia is considering repealing its 17.5-cents a gallon gas tax, while Senate President Mike Miller wants to increase Maryland’s 23.5-cent tax, which may make some interstate commuters decide to fill up in Virginia instead of Maryland, Capital News Service’s Amber Larkins writes in the Cumberland Times News.

PIT BULL LEGISLATION: CNS’s Hannah Anderson, writing in the Salisbury Daily Times, reports that legislation overriding a 2012 court decision that labeled pit bulls “inherently dangerous,” which made landlords liable for attacks and put pit bull owners at risk of being evicted or having to give up their dogs, will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

FORMER DELEGATE TAPPED: Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley tapped former Del. Darren Swain on Friday to fill the vacancy left by the ouster of Del. Tiffany Alston, ignoring the recommendation of the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee.

CHICKEN POO POWER: Maryland and its university system have joined forces to purchase at least 10 megawatts of power from a plant that will run primarily on chicken waste, write Kate Havard and Aaron Davis in the Post.

LAMB CHOPS & MORE: Pamela Wood and Alex Jackson, writing for the Capital-Gazette’s Reporter’s Notebook, detail that Gov. O’Malley finally gets his winning lamb chops from the losing Colorado governor is a bet over the Ravens-Broncos game; Senate President Miller hearing objections to his gas tax proposal; and holiday bills stack up in the General Assembly.

FINANCIAL BOON: Gay marriage has proved to be financially lucrative for florists, printers, caterers and venues, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

DAVITT PROFILED: Ann Marimow of the Post profiles state prosecutor Emmet Davitt, a bearded former high school guidance counselor takes on cases that are too politically sensitive for Maryland’s elected state’s attorneys or attorney general — and too small for federal prosecutors. He is currently prosecuting the trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold.

MISCONDUCT CHARGE DISMISSED: A judge dismissed one of five charges against Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold on Friday — misconduct in office for removing opponents’ campaigns signs, reports Margie Hyslop for the Gazette.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Sun columnist Dan Rodricks opines that while we have gotten an up-close and personal view of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold’s back problems and catheter during his trial, it’s too bad we haven’t gotten a good idea of what Leopold was thinking when he treated his staff like a bunch of stooges and lackeys.