February 7, 2013

State Roundup, February 7, 2013

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GUN FIGHT BEGINS WITH RALLY: As debate over Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed gun control legislation begins, hundreds of gun advocates rally while hundreds line up to testify for and against the measures, Bryan Sears of Patch.com is reporting.

Aaron Davis of the Post writes that the rally outside was one of the largest ever in Annapolis, while inside gun rights advocates testified that because of their size, employment, disability or neighborhood they feared life without the protection of a firearm.

Jay Hanlon, a retiree from Silver Spring, held a sign arguing that the Second Amendment protected gun ownership, including assault weapons, as a check against “Domestic Enemies,” CNS’s Rashee Raj Kumar writes in the Easton Star-Democrat.

Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports that Frederick County’s chief law enforcement officer lambasted the governor’s gun-control plan, traveling to the state capital with hundreds of others to oppose proposed handgun licensing requirements and an assault weapons ban.

GUN TESTIMONY: Addressing the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, opponents of Gov. O’Malley’s plan said it was too much, writes Alex Jackson for the Captial-Gazette. Some said they would alter or remove pieces of the legislation in areas concerning mental health or gun licensing. Others said it would completely strip them of their Second Amendment rights. And he reports that Senate President Mike Miller is recommending splitting O’Malley’s gun control legislation into two or three parts, with one part addressing gun licensing.

O’Malley’s proposed bill includes a ban on military-style semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity magazines as well as stricter licensing requirements for handgun purchases, such as fingerprinting and more extensive safety-training, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

Along with the new firearm restrictions, O’Malley vowed to reduce gun violence by devoting resources to mental health services and creating a center for early crisis intervention, CNS’s Lucas High reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

Andy Brownfield of the Washington Examiner reports that the legislation also would ban semi-automatic firearms that contain one of any number of modifications — such as a telescopic stock or flash suppressor — that would qualify it as an assault weapon. It also would limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

MILLER OUT OF TOUCH: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks chastises Senate President Mike Miller for being decades out of touch with constitutional law when he implies that 2nd Amendment rights can’t be regulated.

ANGRY WHITE MEN: Susan Reimer characterizes a recent town hall meeting hosted by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to discuss Gov. O’Malley’s gun-control measures as filled with angry white men who are gun advocates.

GUN DATA BLOCKED: In an explainer for the Sun, Justin George reports that when reporters asked Baltimore police and state agencies where the guns used in city crimes came from, no one could provide specific information because of a federal blockage of gun tracing data. Police also can’t reveal what gun tracing data they do have because a federal law passed a decade ago shields most firearm tracking information from the public.

TRANSIT SPENDING: The debate over transportation funding in the Maryland General Assembly moved to the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday, with some senators arguing for more transit spending and others claiming that the state devotes too many resources to its transit system already, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com.

MORHAIM BILL CHANGES: Bills to increase compliance with the Open Meetings Act by public bodies in Maryland and stiffen penalties for violating the law will get a hearing this afternoon in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. Len Lazarick writes that one bill, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim who chairs the Government Operations Subcommittee, is significantly different than what MarylandReporter.com initially reported in January.

EARLY EDUCATION: The Sun’s Erica Green is reporting that two Baltimore city lawmakers have proposed legislation that would draw funding from the state’s lottery revenue to support expanding early childhood education, creating a program call “Race to the Tots,” named after the federal “Race to the Top” program.

BURNS’ VIEW REMAINS: Bryan Sears of Patch.com writes that Del. Emmett Burns said he’s standing his ground against same-sex marriage despite a reprimand from a legislative ethics panel for writing a letter on House of Delegates letterhead last year chastising a Baltimore Ravens player who supported same-sex marriage and asking that he be silenced.

RFPs FOR PG CASINO: Bidding for a Prince George’s County casino officially began yesterday, writes the Post’s John Wagner. The state of Maryland issued a “request for proposals,” inviting companies interested in operating a Las Vegas-style venue to make their intentions known by May 10.

MORE SANDY AID: Maryland communities affected by Super Storm Sandy will receive $8.6 million in federal funding under an emergency spending measure approved by Congress last month, according to a report in the Sun.

DEMS MUM, MOSTLY, ON OBAMA MEETING: U.S. Senate Democrats emerged from their meeting with President Obama in Annapolis yesterday unwilling to talk specifics — it was considered off the record — but said the bulk of the discussion hinged on the roughly $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that will begin next month unless Congress acts, Andrea Siegel and John Fritze report in the Sun.

BANNED FROM VOTING: The Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission has ruled that county councilmen can’t vote for John Leopold’s successor if they are in the running for the seat themselves, writes Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette. The deadline for submitting your name is Feb. 15.