April 12, 2013

State Roundup, April 12, 2013

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O’MALLEY’S COUP: To quote Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again” as Gov. Martin O’Malley pulled off monumental legislative coups that echo Gov. Marvin Mandel‘s victories 41 years ago, writes longtime opinion-maker Barry Rascovar in the Sun.

In this Daily Record podcast, Danny Jacobs, Alexander Pyles and C. Fraser Smith look back at the 2013 General Assembly and examine how and why lawmakers were so productive. They also take a look at the state of politics in Maryland and discuss Gov. Martin O’Malley’s future and what could be on the General Assembly’s 2014 agenda.

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times profiles Gov. O’Malley and his turning Maryland to the left.

“Liberals gone wild,” is the headline for Blair Lee’s Gazette column, as he scans the remarkable move to the left over the last few years in Annapolis.

O’MALLEY PLANS: Gov. Martin O’Malley is likely to focus on job growth in his 20 months in office, writes Holly Nunn in the Gazette, as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown runs to succeed him.

GAS TAX HIKE: Jim Bach of the Diamondback writes that, while unpopular, the gas tax is nothing new — in fact, even during a booming economy in the ’90s, then-Gov. Parris Glendening felt it necessary to raise the tax. Transportation and its related infrastructure have continually been a money pit for the state.

Despite early predictions of its impending failure, lawmakers this year delivered on transportation funding, passing the first comprehensive revenue package in decades and, on the last day of the session, even passing a constitutional amendment creating a lock box to protect transportation funding from being used for other purposes. So what changed? asks Donald Fry in Center Maryland.

WINNERS & LOSERS: Holly Nunn of the Gazette does a list of winners and losers from this session of the Maryland General Assembly.

SPECIAL SESSION: The greatest casualty of the 2013 General Assembly session might be a bill to address liability when dogs bite, and Del. Ben Kramer said he’s working on bringing legislators back to Annapolis for a one-day special session to settle the issue, the Gazette’s Holly Nunn reports.

ASSAULT WEAPONS: With the National Rifle Association vowing to take Maryland to court if Gov. O’Malley signs the gun control bill, WBFF-TV interviews the NRA president on the state’s assault weapons ban as well as several Marylanders.

BULLYING LAW: A new law named in honor of a Howard County teen who committed suicide after she was bullied online will make it a misdemeanor to repeatedly and maliciously use a computer or smartphone to bully someone under the age of 18, writes Blair Ames in the Sun.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Dan Rodricks, on WYPR-FM, assesses the environmental impact of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session with Rona Kobell of the Chesapeake Bay Journal and Pamela Wood of the Capital Gazette newspapers.

START SCHOOL LATER STUDY DIES: The effort to start school no earlier than 8 a.m. was doomed for this session of the General Assembly when a state Senate committee last week voted against a bill that would have dedicated a state task force to the issue. The House of Delegates had unanimously approved the bill, reports Tim Pratt for the Capital-Gazette.

CONTRACTOR SALARIES QUESTIONED: State election officials are planning to spend up to $1.2 million to hire just five contractors working for nine months, a high-dollar figure that has shocked key lawmakers and voter advocacy groups watching as the state transitions from touch-screen voting to paper ballots, Glynis Kazanjian reports in MarylandReporter.com.

TIME TO RAISE SOME DOUGH: Erin Cox and Michael Dresser of the Sun write that, with the season for legislating over in Maryland as of last Monday, the season for raising cash for campaigns has begun. For the next nine months, until the General Assembly convenes in Annapolis Jan. 8, candidates for the legislature, governorship and other statewide offices will be making an all-out push to fill their campaign chests before next year’s session and the law governing such activities put a damper it.

BROWN’S CAMPAIGN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who has been eyeing a bid for Maryland governor next year, plans to kick off his campaign next month, writes John Wagner of the Post. An invitation from Brown that has started to circulate asks supporters to save the date of May 10 for a “very special announcement” at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.

David Moon of Maryland Juice reveals at least a part of the short list of lieutenant governor possibles on Anthony Brown’s short list of running mates in the governor’s race. Moon’s short-short list includes five women. Moon also mentions Sun columnist Dan Rodrick’s piece from earlier this week about U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger considering running for governor, oddly calling him a “dark horse candidate.”

OPEN MEETINGS COMPLAINT: Three members of an anti-speed camera group have filed an open-meetings complaint against a task force appointed by Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to study the city’s troubled automated enforcement system. There is video report above the story of Sun reporter Scott Calvert being denied access to the meeting then speaking with members as they emerge. Calvert and Luke Broadwater report the story for the Sun.

Here’s an April 10 story by Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew on the speed camera company and a deal it struck with Baltimore City.

FOR PG FBI HQ: As Maryland, Virginia and the District all vie to be the next home of the FBI, Maryland’s Congress members are trying to boost their bid by coalescing around one potential site — Prince George’s County, Ben Pershing of the Post reports.

The entire Maryland Congressional delegation sent letters to the U.S. General Services Administration and FBI on Wednesday expressing support for the new FBI headquarters to be constructed near the Greenbelt Metro station, Erich Wagner writes in the Gazette.

SEQUESTER EFFECTS: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that, as the effects of sequester begin to appear in lost grants and increased competition, organizations throughout the Lower Shore are getting a better understanding of just how they’ll be effected. For some it means a slowdown in business with defense contractors, while for others it means less funding available to feed the elderly or assist the homeless.

DELANEY BILL: Freshman Congressman John Delaney is working on his first bill, a plan to create new infrastructure bonds and encourage corporations to invest in them by allowing them to repatriate some overseas earnings tax-free if they purchase such a bond, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette. The result would be an infrastructure-funding system that requires no federal appropriations.