March 12, 2013

State Roundup, March 12, 2013

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SENATE OKS VOTING EXPANSION: The Maryland Senate on Monday night passed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill to expand early voting and allow same-day registration, reports Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette.

WIND BILL PASSES SENATE: The Maryland Senate gave its approval to offshore wind energy on Friday, but not before a heated debate questioning whether it is a wise decision for the state to subsidize and invest in the developing technology, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com

ANTI-ABORTION RALLY: Hundreds of pro-life Marylanders held their annual march and rally in Annapolis on Monday night, writes Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette. After religious services were held at nearby St. Mary’s Church, an energized crowd of pro-lifers walked to Lawyer’s Mall outside the State House in the March For Life.

The Gazette’s Holly Nunn writes about the continuing anti-abortion movement in Maryland, including proposed legislation to try to curb the practice and the chances of passage of new legislation.

BAD BAG TAX: Bill Ebeck, who works for a company that makes plastic grocery bags, writes in an opinion piece for MarylandReporter.com that the proposed bag tax has an unintended adverse effect upon shoppers and the economy.

$420M CUT: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that the House Appropriations Committee finished cutting Gov. O’Malley’s fiscal 2014 budget Friday, and the final tally released Monday night in its report to the House shows the budget is $420 million less than what the governor proposed, bringing it slightly under $37 billion.

LEVEL COUNTY SPENDING: Andy Brownfield of the Washington Examiner writes about a bill before the Maryland Senate that would require counties to maintain current levels of spending on public safety, transportation and libraries, which critics say will almost certainly lead to county tax increases.

EYE ON ANNAPOLIS: The Daily Record’s Alex Pyles and Steve Lash, in its Eye on Annapolis podcast, discuss how Virginia might have been the catalyst for the latest transportation bill and which amendment might kill the pit-bull bill after months of work.

LIMITING EFFECTIVE DATES: The Gazette’s Kevin James Shay writes that legislation that passed the state House of Delegates on Friday that would limit the dates that regulations can go into effect from daily to four times a year could help reduce the workload of small businesses.

RACE HORSE DEATH STUDY: Chris Korman of the Sun reports that 10 horses were injured and euthanized at Laurel Park over nearly six weeks this year, prompting the state to investigate why the rate of deaths at the racetrack had spiked so drastically and suddenly. On Monday, a report on the state investigation did not identify a cause for the rise in deaths. Instead, the Maryland Racing Commission suggested in its report a tightening of current safety protocols and increased study of fallen horses.

LEGALIZING POT: The editorial board of the Sun writes that the go-slow approach to legalizing medical marijuana adopted by Gov. O’Malley is the best approach at this time.

DEER HUNTING BILL: A report in the Cumberland Times-News says that legislation that would have required deer hunters in Garrett County to take only bucks with at least three antler points on one side was withdrawn Monday by its sponsor, Del. Wendell Beitzel.

GLADDEN ON DEATH PENALTY: Kate Havard of the Post interviews Sen. Lisa Gladden in this week’s Unspun column. Gladden, who has been a longtime opponent of the death penalty, talks about the possibility of its repeal.

DELANEY CALLS FOR DIVERSIFICATION: Ryan Marshall of the Gazette reports that first-term U.S. Rep. John Delaney said on Friday that Maryland’s reliance on government jobs and federal spending make it too vulnerable to a budget upheaval like sequestration, so it must diversify its economic base to better weather shifts in government spending.

CITY CASINO WORK HALTED: A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ordered a halt Monday to construction work on the city’s planned casino until a hearing Friday on a lawsuit by Westport residents alleging that the city and state improperly approved an inadequate cleanup of industrial contamination at the site, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

NO JAIL SOUGHT FOR LEOPOLD: State prosecutors won’t ask a judge to put Anne Arundel’s former county executive behind bars at his sentencing Thursday. Instead, they will ask the judge to order John Leopold to pay $100,000 in fines and complete 500 hours of community service, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.