March 7, 2013

State Roundup, March 7, 2013

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SENATE OKS DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: The Maryland Senate voted yesterday to make Maryland the 18th state to abolish the death penalty, putting Gov. Martin O’Malley one step closer to a significant legislative victory, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. The 27-20 vote sent the bill to the House of Delegates.

The House is expected to approve the measure, handing Gov. O’Malley a long-sought legislative victory at a time when he is weighing a run for national office in 2016, the Post’s John Wagner writes.

Shortly after the Senate adjourned, Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, was outside the chamber with a wide smile offering congratulations to senators and other supporters of the bill, Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette reports.

Many are predicting that the repeal will be petitioned to referendum, writes Holly Nunn in the Gazette.

A Carroll County state senator was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of repealing the state’s death penalty, writes Brett Lake for the Carroll County Times.

Every legislator in the Washington County delegation is against the repeal except Sen. Ron Young, who voted for the measure, Kaustuv Basu reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mai.

Here’s how all the senators voted, from the Post.

MINOR CUTS TO O’MALLEY BUDGET: House Appropriations subcommittees began the process of cutting Gov. O’Malley’s proposed $37 billion budget Wednesday, but the reductions were relatively modest, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

GAS TAX: Andy Brownfield of the Washington Examiner offers an explainer on how O’Malley’s proposed gas tax plan would work, should it be adopted.

MORE MIDWIVES: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post opines it hopes state legislators back legislation by Del. Ariana Kelly (not King) to create a three-year pilot program that would allow certified professional midwives to practice in Maryland. It’s a worthwhile experiment.

ABORTION CURBS: Del. Neil Parrott has introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would prohibit abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later, except under some circumstances such as medical emergencies, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Edward Reilly. There’s a short video of a press conference above the story.

CYBER-BULLYING: Ravens running back Ray Rice, who has campaigned passionately against bullying, is throwing his weight behind a Maryland bill that would make cyber-bullying a minor crime, writes Jill Rosen for the Sun.

LEGAL NOTICES: Local governments are once again trying to change a requirement that they post legal notices in print newspapers, arguing that in the electronic age they should be able to post online and save taxpayers millions, writes Becca Heller for MarylandReporter.com.

ONLINE PRIVACY: Maryland students might choose to broadcast personal details across the electronic universes of Facebook and Twitter, but they do not owe school officials a look at the information, says Sen. Ron Young. Bethany Rodgers is reporting in the Frederick News-Post that, to strengthen online privacy, Young is backing legislation that would bar colleges and universities from requiring students to provide access to their Internet accounts.

GREEN DREAMS: While state Sen. Ron Young is dreaming of creating a $100 million loan fund for green buildings, and helping Frederick to become recognized for its net-zero construction, opinionators at the Frederick News Post see problems with the plan, but also great potential.

WHAT SNOW? PRINCE GEORGE’S STAYS OPEN: Miranda Spivack of the Post examines what made Prince George’s County government decide to stay open when so many other government offices decided to close after weather forecasts predicted heavy snows for yesterday.

PHONE SYSTEM WASTE: Audits released Wednesday offered new details about two of the city’s ongoing financial problems: money wasted by the outdated municipal phone system and the unfunded liabilities of the Police and Fire departments’ pension plans, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun.