April 10, 2013

State Roundup, April 10, 2013

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NRA VOWS CHALLENGE: National Rifle Association President David Keene said Tuesday that the organization intends to challenge the constitutionality of Maryland’s newly passed gun law, as a conservative group readied plans to try to overturn the law through voter referendum, reports Erin Cox of the Sun. Keene said during a radio interview the group will “absolutely” go to the courts.

REFERENDUM PROCESS STARTS: Del. Pat McDonough said Tuesday that gun rights advocates have begun the referendum process for the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, which could block the legislation from taking effect in October, writes Meredith Somers in the Washington Times.

BILLS SIGNED: Among the 152 bills Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law on Tuesday Maryland was a long-sought environmental initiative – a subsidy he hopes will lead to one of the nation’s first offshore wind farms, writes Aaron Davis for The Washington Post.

TO BE SIGNED: Left for another day were some of the most high-profile accomplishments of the 90-day session: repeal of the death penalty, a sweeping gun control law and a bill that will eventually generate more than $700 million a year for transportation projects by raising the gas tax and Maryland Transit Administration fares, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun. Above Dresser’s story is the WJZ-TV report on wrapping up the session from Pat Warren.

SESSION FAILURES: The editorial board for the Sun opines that in an otherwise productive session, the General Assembly flubbed legislation on pit bulls and speed cameras.

ON PIT BULLS: Columnist Marta Mossburg, writing in the Sun, says that the compromise on pit bull legislation may have failed simply to help the lawyers win.

Alison Knezevich of the Sun profiles the Towson family who has been behind the move to get restitution for their son who was attacked by a pit bull that ended in the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling pit bulls “inherently dangerous.” In Annapolis on Monday, lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on a bill that would have undone the ruling — a failure animal advocates say will have repercussions for pet owners, landlords and insurance companies across the state.

PRICE FOR PROGRESSIVE AGENDA? Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette writes that while the Democrats pushed through a progressive agenda, it may end up paying a price at the polls as Republicans begin to galvanize and go after vulnerable Dems, such as Sen. John Astle of Anne Arundel County.

Dels. Mary Ann Love and Don Dwyer have very different views on the regulation of guns. And that deep division also represents a deep divide in the political views of the delegates and of Anne Arundel County itself, Sara Blumberg and Zoe Read write in the Capital-Gazette.

CARROLL BILLS: Carroll County residents will now be able to hunt on some Sundays but local organizations still won’t be able to conduct gaming nights based on the local bills debated during the 2013 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly, writes Brett Lake in an article that outlines how Carroll bills fared for the Carroll County Times.

ARUNDEL BENEFITS: A slew of projects in Anne Arundel County, including a few at county schools, will receive an injection of cash from bond bills that passed in the 2013 General Assembly session, reports Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette. On top of money allocated to some county projects in the state’s $3.5 billion capital budget, more than $800,000 was doled out to finish projects in Anne Arundel.

5th JUDGE FOR FREDERICK: A fifth Circuit Court judge will soon don the robes in Frederick County, as Gov. Martin O’Malley decided to deepen judicial ranks in nine Maryland jurisdictions with a bill he signed Tuesday, Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post writes.

BUT NOT MUCH ELSE: While Frederick County was successful in getting its state legislators to take up the county’s priorities for the legislation session in Annapolis, the county was significantly less successful in getting those priorities passed through the General Assembly, reports Ryan Marshall for the Gazette.

GARRETT HOSPITAL TO GROW: Legislation to help finance expansion of Garrett County Memorial Hospital has passed the General Assembly and is on a list of bills that Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he plans to sign, the Cumberland Times-News’ Matthew Bieniek reports.

STORMWATER FEE DELAY SOUGHT: A Baltimore County Council member is calling for the council to delay its vote on a measure to impose stormwater management fees, saying neither the council nor the public has had enough time to study the issue, Alison Knezevich writes in the Sun. Under a state law passed last year, jurisdictions with stormwater systems that feed into the Chesapeake Bay must impose the management fee on property owners to help fund projects to clean and protect the bay. Local governments can set their own fee structures.

OFF TO THE RACES: Tuesday was the first day candidates could file for the 2014 election, and 11 candidates took the plunge, including four Montgomery County legislators filing for reelection, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The juiciest tidbit from the filings posted daily by the State Board of Elections was Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a 20-year veteran Democrat representing Baltimore County District 10, filing to run for state Senate in the redrawn District 44 represented by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell.

OFF TO DENMARK: Gov. Martin O’Malley, fresh off a string of wins in the Maryland General Assembly on liberal issues, is scheduled to appear in Denmark on Friday as part of a panel at a conference on “progressive governance,” writes John Wagner for the Post.

HARRIS HEARS CECIL: Cecil County officials got U.S. Rep. Andy Harris to listen to their concerns over environmental mandates, dredge spoils and contaminated wells at Pearce Creek and increasing drug problems during a sit-down meeting Tuesday morning, writes Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.

IMMIGRATION RALLY: Immigration reform advocates are organizing thousands of Marylanders to attend a Capitol Hill rally today to bring attention to negotiations in the Senate over immigration, writes John Fritze for the Sun. The rally, conceived by CASA de Maryland’s executive director, Gustavo Torres, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across the country — though organizers say most will arrive from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

SHODDY CITY LIQUOR BOARD: The editorial board for the Sun opines that it would be shocking if it weren’t so predictable that not only have legislative auditors found that Baltimore City’s liquor board is doing a lousy job, the liquor board pretty much agrees. That liquor board exists on a level of incompetence that is likely unparalleled in Maryland. The audit’s scathing executive summary says it all.