February 4, 2013

State Roundup, February 4, 2013

Print More

LEOPOLD RESIGNS: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold resigned from office on Friday. Here’s the Sun story by Matthew Hay Brown and Andrea Siegel. Here’s a copy of his resignation letter.

Leopold was convicted Tuesday by Circuit Court Judge Dennis Sweeney after a trial that featured testimony about his sexual encounters and misuse of his security detail and scheduler to perform personal and political chores, the Post’s Carol Morello reports.

Tim Prudente of the Capital-Gazette writes that Leopold’s most loyal supporters turn away, baffled by his actions.

CIVIL CASES AGAINST LEOPOLD: Andrea Siegel of the Sun reports about the two people who sat through Leopold’s criminal misconduct trial, hoping that the testimony and guilty verdict could bolster their pending civil cases. Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette also writes about the civil suits, including one from the ACLU.

HIGH COST OF DEATH PENALTY: While Gov. Martin O’Malley and other death penalty abolitionists say the cost of seeking the penalty, incarceration and execution are extremely high compared to non-capital punishment cases, others dispute the claim, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com.

PROPERTY TAXES: Marylanders, already paying the ninth-largest tax burden in the country, are facing higher property taxes as the state grapples with the rising cost of paying its debt, Andy Brownfield writes in the Washington Examiner.

MEDICAL & SYNTHETIC POT: Ethan Rosenberg of the Capital News Service, reporting in the Cumberland Times-News, writes that, despite coming up short the last two years, several House legislators are trying again to legalize medical marijuana, while others are attempting to tighten restrictions on its synthetic counterparts.

RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE: The editorial board for the Sun is urging the state to raise the minimum wage, arguing that the Economic Policy Institute says that a higher minimum wage will actually put $778 million more in the pockets of Maryland workers and create 4,280 new jobs from increased economic activity generated by the higher pay.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST GUN PROPOSALS: With the first hearing on Gov. O’Malley’s gun control package set for a Senate hearing Wednesday, pro-gun legislators are loading up their arguments against the proposals. One argument is that O’Malley’s proposed gun-licensing fees, which could exceed $400 per person, ushers in the dawn of an era when “only rich people could afford guns,” Ilana Kowarski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that Carroll Commissioners Richard Rothschild and Robin Bartlett Frazier are scheduled to visit Annapolis on Wednesday to oppose proposed tougher restrictions on firearms in Maryland.

ALTERNATIVE GUN BILLS: On Friday, a group of delegates got together to introduce a number of bills as alternatives to O’Malley’s gun control and public safety legislation, including one that would establish training requirements for people who wish to have a permit to carry a handgun, Josh Bollinger writes in the Easton Star-Democrat.

Another would require an armed police resource officer be placed in all Maryland public schools, even elementary schools, John Rydell reports for WBFF-TV.

PIT BULL BILL: A bill meant to ease liability for pit bull dog owners and landlords was criticized by victims’ families, dog advocates, attorneys and legislators recently at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, CNS’s Kayla Faria reports in the Cumberland Times-News.

SAVE THE BAY: When it comes to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and the environment in general, there’s a lot that people can do to contribute, and getting more people involved is the goal of an effort launched last week by the state and environmental groups that have been working to restore and protect the bay, writes the Carroll County Times editorial board.

TRANSPORTATION CRISIS: Writing in Center Maryland, Donald Fry offers up a thumbnail summary of perspectives and ideas how to address Maryland’s transportation infrastructure funding crisis, voiced by lawmakers relating to strengthening Maryland’s chronically stagnant revenue stream.

OPPOSED TO GAS TAX HIKE: Some Washington County legislators are opposing any attempts to raise the gas tax, which has been put forth by both Gov. Martin O’Malley and Senate President Mike Miller, Kaustuv Basu writes in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

CANCER CLUSTER STUDY: Hoping to determine if there are cancer clusters in the state or if certain regions experience a higher number of diagnoses, a group of state senators has submitted legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to fully study the state’s cancer numbers, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

WATER OVERCHARGES: A panel that will examine water and sewer rates in two Maryland suburbs – Prince George’s and Montgomery counties — and look at possible overcharges to homeowners — is scheduled to convene today in Annapolis to begin its work, reports Miranda Spivack of the Post.

ARUNDEL ORPHANS COURT: Pamela Wood and Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette write that the Anne Arundel County delegation Friday all but killed legislation to allow county Circuit Court judges to sit as Orphans’ Court judges.

BOWHUNTERS & HANDGUNS: Bills have been introduced into the Maryland Senate and House that would allow bowhunters in far Western Maryland to carry handguns for protection from bears, reports Michael Sawyers for the Cumberland Times-News. A similar effort a year ago failed.

OBAMA VISITS ANNAPOLIS: President Barack Obama will arrive in Annapolis on Wednesday to speak to U.S. Senate Democrats who plan to gather at the Westin hotel next week, John Fritze reports in the Post. The address will not be open to the public or to reporters.

O’Malley, speculated to have his eye on the White House in four years, will be there as well, writes Ben Pershing in the Post

NO HOYER VS. VAN HOLLEN: Ben Pershing of the Post reports that, despite the continued speculation, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer doesn’t expect to face U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in a race for the House Minority leadership should Nancy Pelosi retire.

RUNNING IN HOWARD: David Moon at Maryland Juice blends together various reports to come up a piece on Howard County Executive Ken Ulman’s run for governor and who is lining up to take his place.