March 27, 2013

State Roundup, March 27, 2013

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GUN LEGISLATION: Aaron Davis of the Post writes that, past a deadline to move hundreds of bills, Maryland’s House of Delegates turned its attention back to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s sweeping gun-control legislation on Tuesday. Lawmakers from both parties said they were struggling with whether to go along with the Democratic governor’s proposal to limit the capacity of firearm magazines and clips to 10 bullets.

GAS TAX FEARS: Members of Maryland Gov. O’Malley’s administration sought Tuesday to allay fears of Republican senators that a transportation bill being debated in the closing weeks of the 90-day session would offer little to their largely rural constituents, John Wagner reports in the Post.

Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post speaks with business owners who are worried about the impact the tax hike will have on their bottom line.

Buried toward the end of Tuesday’s three-hour hearing on a multimillion dollar plan to raise money for transportation projects in Maryland was one opponent who may have had a leg up on the others, writes Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

C FOR TRANSPARENCY: According to a report by the Public Interest Research Group, Maryland received a C grade for transparency in government spending this year. The grade, which is based on the state’s transparency website, is a half step down from last year’s C+, writes Becca Heller for MarylandReporter.com.

O’MALLEY BLASTED: WBAL-TV reports that Gov. O’Malley is getting hammered by both sides: Republicans have an ongoing beef with his travels and budget policies, and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party said he’s not doing enough when it comes to tax reform.

PONDERING POLITICS: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM sits down with Sun opinion page editor Andy Green to take a look at the 2013 General Assembly session and Gov. O’Malley’s trip to South Carolina and other early forays into presidential politics.

MARIJUANA RX: Maryland cancer patients are within a Senate vote of gaining access to medical marijuana in 2016, the Capital-Gazette’s Alex Jackson is reporting. The House of Delegates on Monday approved having a small number of academic medical centers distribute marijuana to patients beginning in 2016.

GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE: The Maryland Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a bill that would qualify more Marylanders for government health care and pay for a new health insurance marketplace, both part of advancing the rollout of federal health reform, Erin Cox and Scott Dance report in the Sun.

REFERENDUM PROCESS BILL: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com writes that the chairman of the election law subcommittee handling controversial changes to the referendum and petition process said Tuesday that the bill isn’t dead, despite the fact that it awaits action by the subcommittee and would need numerous amendments to make it palatable to stakeholders.

ILLEGALS DRIVING LEGALLY: Illegal immigrants will continue to be allowed to obtain Maryland driver’s licenses under a measure passed by the Senate on Monday, writes Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette. Senators voted 29-18 for Senate Bill 715, which would require Maryland to establish a second-class driver’s license that applicants could obtain without a Social Security number or proof of lawful status.

Bethany Rodgers reports that Sen. David Brinkley said that continuing to grant licenses to people who don’t have Social Security numbers advertises Maryland as a sanctuary for people who are in the U.S. illegally.

WBFF-TV also reports on the opponents’ views on the issue.

SECTION 8 TENANTS: A bill that would require landlords to accept tenants through the federal Section 8 program sparked a debate about civil rights on the Senate floor Tuesday, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com. SB487 is intended to prevent landlords from rejecting tenants that receive public assistance simply because they are poor.

SHARK FIN BAN: Maryland could outlaw the shark fin trade under a bill that passed the House of Delegates this week, the Sun’s Erin Cox is reporting. The fins, the key ingredient in shark fin soup and considered a delicacy in some Chinese cuisines, have undergone global scrutiny because of unsustainable harvesting practices.

REPRIEVE FOR FARMERS: A bill moving through the General Assembly would give Maryland farmers a 10-year reprieve from new state or local environmental regulations if the state Department of Agriculture deems they’re doing their part to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, reports Tim Wheeler in the Sun.

BUSINESS TAX HOLIDAY? Businesses that bring their money to Maryland should not always have to worry about taxes awaiting them on the doorstep, says Sen. David Brinkley. Brinkley believes that the federal government could declare a tax holiday, so that repatriated cash isn’t counted toward a company’s taxable income, and that the state should be prepared to follow suit, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

HELPING HBCUs: In an opinion piece for the Sun, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young writes that while the state budget proposal goes a long way to benefit many Marylanders, it fails to help some of the state’s brightest minds – those at the state’s historically black colleges and universities.

ACCUMULATED SICK LEAVE: State employees who were formerly part of the Correctional Officers’ Retirement System but were transferred to a different retirement plan because of a change of position within the same organization currently cannot get a credit for their accumulated sick leave at the time of retirement. A bill to remedy that situation is headed for a House committee hearing Wednesday, writes Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

DEFIBRILLATOR LAW: The General Assembly is on the verge of passing Connor’s Law, a bill named in honor of the 5-year-old boy who drowned at the Crofton Country Club’s pool in 2006, writes Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette. Connor’s Law took effect in Anne Arundel County last year to require all of the county’s public and semipublic pools to have an automatic external defibrillator.

INS & OUTS OF MDGOP: Republican blogger Richard Cross, in an opinion piece in the Sun, details the dysfunction that the state’s GOP has been experiencing and sees it as a battle not just with the Democrats but one within its own party between the Ins – those old establishment hands – and the Outs – the engaged activists.

Mark Newgent at the conservative website Red Maryland also addresses the problems within the state Republican Party.

COUNTY BIAS COMPLAINTS: An Anne Arundel County Democrat is backing a bill that would allow county residents to file discrimination complaints on the county level, reports Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette. Del. Pam Beidle has introduced legislation to alter the county code to allow a group like the county’s Human Relations Commission to take complaints of discrimination.

  • JGwen

    “Referendum changes still awaiting action in House committee”/Maryland Reporter by Kazanjian

    The three “Referendum change” bills offered this session, as presented, are clearly an attempt to stamp out opposition to legislation the voters would challenge. Majority Rule must be unchallengeable!

    “The bill also calls for campaign finance entities to be set up for each petitioned bill” – Solely by the Petitioners. Such a provision is unnecessary, but should it exist it should also apply to all those organizations opposing the petition. Millions poured in to oppose two of the petitions in our last year’s three petition drives.

    The information offered with the legislation, including that in the fiscal and policy note, fail to describe any provocations that occasion need for “tightening” petition requirements.

    While the “Election Law Subcommittee” attempts to tighten the Petition provisions, they are busy Loosening the Voting requirements with Registering and Voting on the same day, Registering via e-mail, Voting by mail, et al.

    It seems abundantly clear their goal is an attempt at “voter suppression.”