April 16, 2013

State Roundup, April 16, 2013

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The news today is dominated by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The Sun reports that 448 Marylanders were registered to run. But here’s our daily roundup about Maryland government and politics.

LIGHT RAIL FUNDING: Backed by an affirming legislative session and soon to be flush with transportation money, state officials went to Washington on Monday to assure the Obama administration that Maryland has both the means and the will to build two light rail systems: the $2.58 billion Red Line in southern Baltimore County and Baltimore City and the $2.15 billion Purple Line from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Candy Thomson of the Sun reports that state officials hope to persuade the two federal agencies to share the cost of the projects.

Mark Reutter of the Baltimore Brew reports that, faced with the costliest transportation project in Baltimore history, the Maryland Transit Administration is testing the waters to see if a public-private partnership (P3) is feasible for the Red Line.

DEATH PENALTY HISTORY: Jim Bach of the Diamondback writes that while the state has repealed the death penalty, one UM professor finds that the history of its uneven application across racial lines and county borders remains.

MORE TO BE DONE:Despite Gov. Martin O’Malley’s victories in Annapolis over the past two years, opines the Post editorial board, he still needs to pursue two other goals: shore up the state’s pension fund and fix the partisan redistricting process.

TAX CUTS IN OFFING? The Post’s John Wagner reports that the curtain closed just a week ago on this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly, but House Speaker Michael Busch is already thinking about something he would like to do next year. And it might surprise you: cut taxes.

MICHELLE OBAMA IN ANNAPOLIS: First lady Michelle Obama plans to attend a bill signing ceremony for legislation benefiting military veterans Wednesday at the Maryland State House, John Wagner of the Post reports.

STORM WATER FEES OK’D: Ridiculed by some as a “rain tax” and a symbol of government overreach in taxes, storm water management fees mandated by the state were approved Monday by Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, reports Andrea Siegel in the Sun.

FINANCE REFORM: The Sun editorial board praises the General Assembly for enacting real if not perfect campaign finance reform.

CREDIT CARDS MISUSED: One department at the University of Maryland Baltimore was found to have misused state-issued credit cards to dodge purchasing rules, and four people were using two credit cards issued to only two people, according to state auditors, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter.com.

THE NRA FACTOR: Jeremy Barr of the Capital News Service interviews U.S. Sen. Joseph Tydings of Maryland, who drew the ire of the NRA and paid a steep price for proposing gun control legislation after the murder of his close friend Robert Kennedy. The story runs in the Easton Star Democrat.

GUN OWNERS WORRY: Supporters of Maryland’s recently passed gun control law champion its stricter requirements and broader bans on assault weapons, but at a weekend gun and knife show in Annapolis, gun rights advocates said they are worried the new legislation is going to make gun possession more difficult for them than for criminals, reports Meredith Somers for the Washington Times.

O’MALLEY SUPER BOWL SECURITY: Maryland State Police spent $5,627 on Gov. O’Malley’s security during his Super Bowl trip earlier this year, including airfare, meals, vehicles, hotel and overtime, agency spokesman Greg Shipley tells Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

PSC TO HEAR PEPCO RATE INCREASE: An AP story in the Daily Record is reporting that Maryland utility regulators say they have set aside 10 days to hear a rate increase request from Pepco. Testimony before the Maryland Public Service Commission runs through Friday. Four more days are scheduled next week and the final day is April 29.

SESSION WRAP: MarylandReporter.com Editor Len Lazarick moderates a media panel Thursday analyzing the legislative session. Register below.

MBRG Annapolis Unwrapped 2013

PAUL RYAN FEATURED: The Maryland Republican Party has landed former vice presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as the featured speaker at an annual fund-raising dinner in June, the party announced Monday, writes the Post’s John Wagner.