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Published on February 12th, 2013 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, February 12, 2013

GAS SURCHARGE: Marylanders natural gas bill is likely to rise by $2 a month under a bill expected to pass the General Assembly as early as this week, writes Aaron Davis in the Post. The price hike, which could go into effect this summer, would allow gas companies to accelerate improvements to aging pipelines that carry a combustible substance near neighborhoods and schools.

ACCOMMODATING MEGA-HEARINGS: With gun proponents far outnumbering opponents at last week’s public hearing in Annapolis, many were not allowed to testify given time restraints despite the nine-hour marathon meeting, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin is seeking to remedy that through a bill that would give the Senate president the right to call for online signup to testify and a change in venue to a larger hall.

GUN TURN-IN: As Maryland lawmakers grapple with gun-control legislation, Attorney General Doug Gansler has said that on May 11 his office will employ the “time-tested” tool of allowing residents to turn in illegal or unwanted firearms, no questions asked, writes the Post’s Aaron Davis.

SEPTIC LAW REPEAL: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News reports that the bill to repeal the state’s four-tiered septic laws has been filed with many co-sponsors from rural areas of the state.

CONCERN FOR FARMERS: Eastern Shore delegation members are concerned about burdensome regulations and initiatives put on Maryland farmers intended to clean up the Chesapeake Bay that might make it hard for farmers to do business, writes Josh Bollinger for the Cecil Whig.

DUTY CUT CALLED PAYBACK: State Comptroller Peter Franchot says a bill that would remove some of his tax-collecting duties is political payback from Democratic leaders for his opposition to gambling, David Hill reports in the Washington Times.

TEACHER TAX CREDIT: Tim Pratt of the Capital-Gazette reports that a proposed bill would give educators in public and private schools a $500 state tax credit for classroom expenses and supplies. Educators already are eligible for a $250 federal tax credit.

HOFFMAN AS LOBBYIST: The Baltimore City school board is expected to sign off today on the hiring of former state Sen. Barbara Hoffman to work for General Assembly approval of its ambitious $2.4 billion plan to rebuild its deteriorating facilities over a 10-year period, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

MVA EARNS A PASS: While other units of the Maryland Department of Transportation have been roughed up at budget subcommittees in recent weeks, the Motor Vehicle Administration breezed through Friday before a Senate panel, coming away unscathed by legislative budget cutters mainly because its employee productivity and number of transactions were up while its costs went down, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

‘BOLD REFORMS’ FOR CITY: In her State of the City address, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake yesterday called for “bold reforms” to fix a looming financial shortfall, including requiring more city workers to contribute to their retirement fund, charging residents for trash collection, asking firefighters to work longer hours and cutting the city workforce by 10% over time, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.

Backing publicly a plan that Fire Chief James Clack floated privately last year, Rawlings-Blake said city firefighters must change to 52-hour workweeks to “prevent the constant threat of firehouse closures,” writes Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

CITY’S FINANCIAL FIX: In an op-ed in the Sun, Christopher Summers of the Maryland Public Policy Institute writes that following a disturbing report predicting “financial ruin” for Baltimore City, his nonpartisan research institute believes that five big reforms can help save it, halt the exodus of families and businesses and kick-start a long-overdue economic renaissance.

BONGINO WON’T RUN: Dan Bongino has announced on his Facebook page that he will not be seeking to replace John Leopold as county executive of Anne Arundel County or to replace Alex Mooney as chairman of the state GOP. Regarding the county exec spot, he says he has “chosen to disengage from a process that has become weighted towards insider politics.”

NEW CAPITAL EDITOR: Steve Gunn, a 35-year veteran of newspapers, will be the next editor of Capital Gazette Communications, replacing longtime editor Tom Marquardt, who retired at the end of December, Pamela Wood reports in the Capital-Gazette.

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