February 19, 2013

State Roundup, February 19, 2013

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GUNNING FOR GUN CONTROL BILLS: A Senate panel is expected to vote Thursday on the sweeping gun-control measures proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, kicking off what’s likely to be an intense effort to change the bill, the Gazette’s Daniel Leaderman reports.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Gov. O’Malley’s Firearm Safety Act is being closely scrutinized by state legislators and many Republicans are upset with many elements of the bill.

Prince George’s County is taking aim at gun shows, reports WJZ-TV’s Vic Carter. The county has canceled all gun shows for now because of proposals to change state and federal weapons laws. This decision is being called a security measure.

ACCEPTING THE UNACCEPTABLE: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 31,672 firearms-related deaths nationwide. About two-thirds of them were suicides. This happens because we accept it.

SEPTIC CURBS: Tim Wheeler of the Sun reports that a bill to lift state curbs on development using septic systems has died in Annapolis, less than a week after a small “tractorcade” to the State House by farmers upset over pending limits on how many houses can be built on their land.

TAX STRUCTURE: The Greater Baltimore Committee’s latest report reveals that Maryland’s tax structure and other corporate regulations are a driving force behind the state’s spotty performance on U.S. business climate rankings, which typically rate Virginia as a better place to do business than Maryland, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com.

GOP ON TAX HIKES: Democratic leaders at the State House have learned not to count on a single Republican vote for any tax increase, including proposals for a gas tax hike being floated again. But GOP legislators plan to explain at a news conference today why new transportation revenues aren’t needed at all, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

HEALTHY INCENTIVES: A group of Maryland lawmakers want state employees to be healthier, writes Andy Brownfield for the Washington Examiner. That’s why they have introduced a bill to give state workers incentives to take actions like exercise more, eat healthier and get regular health assessments.

SKY LANTERNS: The State Fire Marshal’s office has announced that while sky lanterns were already illegal in Maryland since they are considered equal to aerial fireworks, the Maryland State Fire Prevention Commission has updated the State of Maryland Fire Prevention Code to specifically list sky lanterns as their own item that is prohibited in the state, writes Carrie Ann Knauer for the Carroll County Times.

REPLACING HARRISON: Luke Broadwater of the Sun gives us a bit of insight into what it took for a committee to pick a nominee to replace Del. Hattie Harrison, the longest-serving member of the House of Delegates who died recently at age 84.

O’M’s WASHINGTON ADDRESS: Gov. O’Malley, delivering the annual George Washington’s Birthday address to senators in the restored Old House Chamber of the State House, told the Maryland Senate last night that if George Washington were to return to Annapolis, he would warn Americans against a “spirit of hedonism” imperiling the gains of the American Revolution and urge Americans to put the common good above personal gain, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

SEQUESTRATION VULNERABLILTY: Maryland is one of the states most “vulnerable” to sequestration cuts, given its dependence on federal spending, the financial services company Wells Fargo reports, according to Jamie Smith Hopkins of the Sun. The report, which underscores earlier warnings from economists, says non-defense spending makes up 10% of Maryland’s gross domestic product — tied with Virginia and D.C. for the biggest share nationwide.

Suburban Maryland officials, whose communities are home to thousands of federal employees, are pleading for an agreement to avoid what they say are potentially devastating effects of the deep, automatic federal spending cuts that could occur beginning March 1, the Post’s Miranda Spivack is reporting.

BACK ON THE AIR: Gov. O’Malley is returning to the Sunday national talk show circuit this weekend with a visit to “Face the Nation,” blogs John Wagner of the Post.

REPLACNG LEOPOLD: The chief executive officer of Howard County’s Economic Development Authority might be taking her business experience to Anne Arundel County. Laura Neuman is one of 16 Republican candidates vying to become the new Anne Arundel County executive, a position that became open when Republican John Leopold resigned Feb. 1 after being found guilty of misconduct in office, writes Blair Ames in the Columbia Flier.

APPEALING PENSION DECISIONS: A majority of state legislators who represent Baltimore County are asking the Baltimore County Council to delay a vote on a bill that affects how county employees appeal decisions on pensions, reports Bryan Sears for Patch.com.