March 5, 2013

State Roundup, March 5, 2013

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TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PLAN: Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly’s presiding officers yesterday proposed a multi-faceted plan to raise $3.4 billion for Maryland transportation projects over the next five years.

The legislation endorsed by the governor, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch is a complex plan that would add 2 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas July 1 and another 7 cents a year later, write Michael Dresser and Erin Cox in the Sun.

John Wagner of the Post reports that O’Malley’s bill promises to jump-start a stalled debate in Maryland that has taken on greater urgency after Virginia passed a plan last month to put about $3.5 billion in additional revenue into transportation in the coming five years.

DEATH PENALTY: Efforts to end Maryland’s death penalty moved forward late yesterday as the Senate squashed attempts to retain the death penalty for what one senator called “the worst of the worst,” report Erin Cox and Michael Dresser for the Sun.

The vote by the state Senate will wait until today after debate continued for two more hours last night, writes Alex Jackson for the Capital Gazette.

The amendments rejected by the Senate in oftentimes emotional debate included exceptions for people who murder police officers and inmates who kill while in prison, reports John Wagner for the Post.

AT-HOME SERVICE FOR ELDERLY: Facing a $1 million budget cut, the Maryland Department of Aging is focusing on providing more at-home services to keep the elderly out of costly nursing home, writes Becca Heller for MarylandReporter.com.

REGENTS VIOLATED LAW: Maryland’s open meetings compliance board said this week that it not only found that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents violated the state’s open meetings act, but also rejected the idea that the transgressions were “at worst technical,” writes Chris Korman for the Sun.

PETER PRINCIPLE: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that Comptroller Peter Franchot, who doesn’t always toe the party line, is surviving General Assembly attempts to whack him despite his lame duck status after announcing he isn’t running for governor.

OUTDATED VOTING: Maryland’s voting machines are outdated, but there is not enough money or time to replace them for nest year’s election, Ilana Kowarski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

LANGUAGE BARRIER TO HEALTH CARE: Maryland officials are planning a variety of ways to reach people who do not speak English well to help them obtain insurance under the federal health care law, an AP story in the Carroll County Times reports.

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY: Bryan Sears of Patch.com reports that some people convicted of sex crimes prior to the existence of the state’s sex offender registry may no longer have to register with the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

SEQUESTER HITS HOME: The federal budget sequester that began Friday is just the latest in a string of hits to federal contractors in Montgomery and Frederick counties, reports Kevin James Shay of the Gazette.

D.C. COMMUTERS: Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post reports on the Census study that finds that 540,000 people outside the immediate D.C. suburbs commute into the D.C. area every day.

D.C. outstrips every state in the nation with its percentage of commuters taking an hour of travel time — 27.4%, or more than 200,000 people in 2011, writes Liz Essley in the Washington Examiner.

AA SURVEILLANCE: On her first full day on the job, the new Anne Arundel County executive shut down a surveillance operation inside the county office building that included 500 cameras recording minute-by-minute activity in and around numerous county government facilities, report the Sun’s Yvonne Wenger and Andrea Walker.