March 13, 2013

State Roundup, March 13, 2013

Print More

JOB TRAINING BILL PASSES: Gov. Martin O’Malley chalked up his first win of the 90-day legislative session Tuesday with passage of a modest jobs training bill by the House of Delegates, writes John Wagner in the Post.

The House of Delegates voted 115-23 Tuesday to approve the program, which would distribute $2.5 million in state grants each year to train workers for high-demand industries, Erin Cox writes in the Sun.

OUT-OF-STATE STUDENT CAP: Jim Bach of the Diamondback reports that a bill before the General Assembly would cap the number of out-of-state undergraduate students at the University System of Maryland at 20% of the student body for all 12 system institutions and 30% for out-of-state graduate students. Because out-of-state students’ tuition rates are about three times more than in-state students, the university would lose an estimated $140 million in revenue in fiscal 2014, according to estimates by the state’s Department of Legislative Services.

PIT BULL COMPROMISE IMPERILED: Michael Dresser, reporting for the Sun, writes that legislation that would undo a court ruling labeling pit bulls as inherently dangerous appeared increasingly imperiled as the Senate and House dug in their heels on conflicting positions Tuesday.

The House bill removed from the law the breed-specific language that singled out pit bulls and shifted the burden of proof in dog-bite cases to the owner rather than the victim. But the Senate took up a separate version of the bill that included a new provision making it more difficult for dog owners to prevail in lawsuits, writes Kate Havard of the Post.

Sen. Brian Frosh is getting slammed by a fellow senator for walking away from the compromise, reports David Collins for WBAL-TV.

DOG BAITING: WBBF-TV reports that two Anne Arundel County lawmakers are fighting to strengthen Maryland’s dog fighting law by making “dog baiting” illegal with a penalty of a maximum of three years in jail and/or fines of up to $5,000.

VOTER SUPPRESSION BILL: A bill intended to prevent voter suppression was passed along party lines by the House of Delegates 90-46 on Tuesday, after a heated argument between Democrats and Republicans about the impact of the legislation on Marylanders’ civil rights, Ilana Kowarski reports for MarylandReporter.

ZIRKIN’S PSC PROPOSAL: Sen. Bobby Zirkin called on a Senate committee Tuesday to approve legislation expanding the state Public Service Commission’s role in overseeing the state’s interstate natural gas pipelines — including one running alongside his Owing Mills home, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. The PSC, however, expressed ambivalence about taking on the broad new role Zirkin envisions, saying some of his proposals would run afoul of federal law.

SEPTIC BILL KILLED: Becca Heller of MarylandReporter.com writes that two bills that drew crowds to Annapolis have been killed in committee: the Septic Bill, which would have had wide implications on land use and development, and the Liberty Preservation Act of 2013, which would have curbed state involvement in federal detainment of terrorism suspects.

CITY SCHOOLS REBUILD: Senate President Mike Miller said Tuesday that legislative leaders are working to overhaul Baltimore City’s proposal for a $2.4 billion plan to rebuild its crumbling school facilities in way that he’s “fairly confident” will win General Assembly approval, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

DRINKING LIABILITY: An Urbana couple are holding out hope that the state’s highest court will create a law to hold a bar liable for over-serving a patron who killed their 10-year-old granddaughter in a high-speed crash in 2008, writes Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News-Post.

FARM-BAY LEGISLATION: Environmental groups are split over a bill that would give Maryland farmers more certainty about how Chesapeake Bay restoration regulations will affect them, according to an AP story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Under the legislation, farmers would be exempted from new regulations for 10 years if they agree to meet bay restoration goals and submit to inspections of their farms.

LIMIT PENSION RISK: A legislator who has spent his career as a financial advisor and investor is seeking to force the state pension system to limit what he sees as risky investments in private equity, hedge funds and other alternative assets, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

GOOGLE SETTLEMENT: Maryland is one of 37 states and Washington, D.C., that will share a $7 million settlement with Google Inc. over allegations that the online search giant collected unauthorized data from consumers when putting together its Street View mapping service, writes Gary Haber in the Baltimore Business Journal. Maryland will receive $130,388 of the settlement announced Tuesday.

MEET LAURA NEUMAN: Dan Rodrick of WYPR-FM interviews Laura Neuman, the new Anne Arundel County executive who has tried to clean house in scandal-scarred Annapolis. She made staff changes to build a new administration, removed a secret system of 500 cameras that her predecessor had had installed in county office buildings and is now on a tour of the county to meet residents and public officials.

LEOPOLD SENTENCING: Eight people submitted letters to the judge on behalf of former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold as his sentencing approaches Thursday, writes Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette. For light reading, you can go through Leopold’s 64-page Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing, which was submitted to the judge and includes the letters as well as some historical background on the former county exec.

SNOWDEN’S FUTURE: Annapolis’ top-ranking public housing officials are mum on whether Carl Snowden will be asked to resign his chairmanship of the Housing Authority board. Snowden will serve 10 days behind bars beginning April 12 for violating his probation in a 2010 drunken driving case. The violation stemmed from a conviction for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Monday. Snowden is also the former civil rights director for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.