State Roundup, April 11, 2013

April 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

O’MALLEY MULLS RUN FOR PRESIDENT: With a productive General Assembly session behind him, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday that he will use the second half of the year to consider whether to run for the White House, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. “I need to be spending a lot more energy and time giving serious consideration and preparation to what — if anything — I might have to offer should I decide to run for president in 2016,” O’Malley said during a wide-ranging interview with Sun editors. There’s a short video of O’Malley speaking at the top of the article.

DUTCH FOR GOVERNOR? A genuine Baltimore-area candidate — someone who could pull votes from Baltimore County and the city, and enough in other key sectors of the state — would be a serious contender for the big-daddy chair in Annapolis, Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes. And who might that be? Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the six-term congressman and former Baltimore County executive, “is considering it,” says his spokeswoman, Jaime Lennon.

NATHAN-PULLIAM RUN: Michael Dresser of the Sun, following up a MarylandReporter.com story from yesterday, writes that Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who has filed papers to run for the Senate in the 2014 Democratic primary in the district now represented by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell of Baltimore City, is seeking to take advantage of a redrawn district that is split between the county and the city.

BILL PASSAGE ‘AVERAGE:’ This year, 2,610 measures were introduced in the Maryland General Assembly; 766 passed both the House and the Senate. According to the Department of Legislative Services, that success rate, 29.3%, is similar to that of the average session, in which two bills die for every one that passes, writes Kate Havard in the Post.

MDPETITIONS POLLING: In the Post, John Wagner writes that MDPetitions.com, a group that played a leading role in putting three Maryland laws on the ballot last year, has started polling people about which measures passed in the just-concluded legislative session should be subject to petition drives in coming weeks. In its online poll, the group lists eight bills from the the 90-day session that wrapped up Monday.

VETTING PETITION LANGUAGE: An AP story in the Daily Record reports that opponents of a Maryland gun-control measure took steps on Wednesday to prepare a petition drive with hopes of giving voters a chance to reject the bill next year on the ballot. Del. Neil Parrott brought language for a petition to the Maryland Board of Elections to seek an advance decision on whether the language is legally sufficient. He also brought language for a potential petition drive against a bill that would repeal capital punishment and one that makes union fees a mandatory subject of bargaining between school boards and local associations for all teachers.

BATHROOM ACCESS: Legislators work on big issues like gun control, the death penalty and taxes, but then there are hundreds of other bills addressing smaller problems that fly under the radar, Becca Heller writes in MarylandReporter.com. The governor just signed a bill into law that expands access to an “employees only” bathroom in a retail store for individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease or other medical conditions that require immediate access to a restroom.

P3 BILL & STATE CENTER: Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record writes that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown believes that new public-private venture legislation will allow businesses to pitch their own ideas for state construction projects and create a more predictable procurement process with strict oversight from the Board of Public Works and General Assembly. Brown added that it should prevent contentious situations like the State Center project.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: The Cumberland Times-News reports that police officers in Maryland will be able to stop drivers who use hand-held cell phones when a new law enacted by the General Assembly takes effect Oct. 1.

RELIEF AS SESSION ENDS: Tim Prudente of the Capital-Gazette helps to wrap up the session on a lighter note, writing a feature on those people who are grateful the session is now over – the legislative aides who can finally get more sleep, the son of a legislator who can finally take a break from work when dad returns and even some of the businesspeople who benefit from having the legislators in Annapolis.

UPDATES: MarylandReporter.com updates the General Assembly’s action on bills it covered earlier this session, including open meetings, Obamacare, campaign finance reform and the soft-shell crab sandwich

ONLINE CHAT WITH LAWMAKERS: A University of Maryland senior has launched a website that offers a platform for open discussions between students, registered voters and state and national elected officials from Maryland, Sandra Muller reports for the Diamondback. MyMaryland.net also has a town hall specifically for the university, giving students the opportunity to exchange ideas with campus officials and follow conversations on state issues.

LEGAL AID FOR FARMERS: Following the lawsuit that brought national attention to Maryland farmers, a group of academics is working to find out what legal resources the stewards may want, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

STATE SUPER CHEERLEADS: In a typical work day, Lillian Lowery will discuss lesson plans and budgets. She is Maryland’s superintendent of schools. Policy debates are part of the job, writes Brandon Oland for the Carroll County Times. Not always, though. Sometimes, she is simply a cheerleader. And that’s why she found herself in Carroll County Wednesday.

GUN GROUP GOES AFTER TOWN LAW: A national gun rights group is taking aim at the small Maryland town of Walkersville to try to force a change in its firearm restrictions. The Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Wash., formally demanded that Walkersville repeal a ban on shooting and carrying loaded guns within town limits, Kellie Duncan reports for the Frederick News-Post.

NYC TRIP EXPENSE: Patti Borda of the Frederick News-Post writes that the cost of doing business in New York City was $12,900 for Frederick County, which sent eight people there for three days this year to visit bond rating agencies.

CARSON WON’T SPEAK: Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson stepped down Wednesday as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after complaints from students about controversial comments concerning same-sex marriage, Andrea Walker reports in the Sun. In a letter announcing his decision, Carson wrote that he didn’t want to “distract from the celebratory nature of the day.”

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