April 23, 2013

State Roundup, April 23, 2013

Print More

SPLIT AMONG GUN RIGHTS GROUPS? Meredith Somers of the Washington Times writes that Del. Pat McDonough says a plan by the nation’s leading gun rights group to file a lawsuit to overturn the state’s recently passed firearms bill is meeting some resistance among activists. He said he is aware of two groups that hope to buck the plans of the National Rifle Association and press on with efforts to put the recent legislation before voters in November 2014.

NATIONWIDE ONLINE TAX & MD GAS TAX: Online shoppers would have to pay state sales taxes on more purchases under legislation that advanced in the U.S. Senate on Monday — but Marylanders could also wind up paying a smaller increase in gasoline taxes, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Bricks-and-mortar stores have long sought changes to a federal law that they say gives online companies such as eBay an advantage: Most Internet retailers don’t charge sales tax, and most consumers ignore requirements to declare their online purchases for state taxing purposes.

Final Senate passage is expected later this week. The legislation would allow states that simplify their sales tax systems to collect taxes on purchases made by their residents from online businesses based in other states, writes Kent Hoover for the Washington Business Journal.. Under current law, retailers have to collect sales taxes only for states where they have a physical presence.

EYEING REGIONAL TRANSIT GROUP: When Howard County’s transportation chief looks at a flow chart of mass transit service in the suburbs south of Baltimore, he sees a tangle of “spaghetti mesh” that ill serves the region’s workers, senior citizens and handicapped, reports the Sun’s Candy Thomson. John Powell hopes to bring order to that chaos next year by uniting Howard and Anne Arundel counties’ bus services under a single entity that would eventually morph into the state’s first regional transit authority.

STREAM RESTORATION GRANTS: State officials say they are seeking proposals for Maryland’s Stream Restoration Challenge, a program started last summer to establish 1,000 acres of forested stream buffers by 2015, according to an AP report at WBFF-TV. The buffers help keep stormwater runoff and sediment from entering waterways and eventually the Chesapeake Bay, where they can cause oxygen-robbing algae blooms and harm plant life and other bay species.

AA & STORMWATER FEE: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette opines that stormwater runoff — the nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and assorted gunk washed into local waterways by every heavy rain – has consistently been getting worse. It urges Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman to sign the stormwater fee bill since the county has underspent on stormwater control for many years, and should have imposed a fee long ago.

PG GETS $12.5M MORE: Prince George’s County is expecting to receive an additional $12.5 million after a successful bid to change the way the state accounts for county wealth, Matt Connolly reports in the Washington Examiner. County officials have long railed against the formula Maryland uses to determine how it hands out funding.

FRANCHOT URGED TO APOLOGIZE: Towson University Professor Richard Vatz defends TU President Maravene Loeschke against the recent attack by state Comptroller Peter Franchot in this piece reprinted by Red Maryland. Loeschke has been criticized for ending some men’s sports programs. Vatz urges Franchot to apologize for his remarks.

UM-JORDAN U. EXCHANGE: The University of Maryland has signed an agreement for a student-exchange program with the University of Jordan that will boost research and the flow of students between College Park and the Middle East country’s largest and oldest university, writes Gary Haber for the Baltimore Business Journal. The announcement of the pact comes as a delegation led by Gov. Martin O’Malley visits Jordan on the first leg of an eight-day trip to Jordan and Israel.

FUTURE OF GOP IN MD: Diana Waterman, the newly elected chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party anticipates a competitive governor’s race next year and is hopeful that the minority party will make gains in the General Assembly, despite the challenges of redistricting, writes John Wagner of the Post.

Waterman said her first goal is to mend the fractures within the party that have divided members along libertarian leaning and socially conservative lines, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. “There are not enough Republicans out there that we can be in separate groups,” she said.

MD GOP TURMOIL: A movement led by junior Republican delegates is underway to replace Maryland GOP House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio,  reports Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.

ALLEGANY COMMISSIONERS FILE: The three incumbent Allegany County commissioners made a joint announcement that they filed for re-election at last week’s commission business meeting, writes the Cumberland Times-News’ Matthew Bieniek. It seemed apparent that the three are running as a team. No other candidates had filed by early Monday afternoon, said the county’s election director.