May 21, 2013

State Roundup, May 21, 2013

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PIGGYBACK TAX: Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City face a collective loss of more than $40 million a year and some taxpayers could get refunds if a decision by the state’s highest court isn’t reversed on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. The state Court of Appeals ruled in January that Maryland must offer a credit to taxpayers with some types of out-of-state income to offset the local piggyback tax.

GUN LAW FALLOUT: Despite Beretta’s threats that the company would leave Maryland if new gun laws were passed and signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Beretta USA has no current plans to abandon its headquarters in Prince George’s County, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. In a statement sent to the Sun Monday, Beretta USA board member and general counsel Jeffrey Reh said the company would not let the new law interfere with completing its contract to supply the U.S. Army with pistols.

Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild said he wants to stand up for people’s right to own firearms, but is not yet prepared to release information on a county resolution that would aim to do just that, Christian Alexandersen reports in the Carroll County Times. Details on the resolution remain murky leading up to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners public forum on gun rights and the Second Amendment Wednesday.

A hunter, a mother and a minister are featured in new advertisements touting Maryland’s new gun law, which was signed last week and represents one of the nation’s most sweeping pieces of gun-control legislation passed this year, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: Marylanders soon will be ticketed for texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving under a new law, but studies show such crackdowns on phone use do little to prevent traffic accidents, writes Andy Brownfield for the Washington Examiner.

WINE SALES: As shoppers walk through Maryland farmers markets in the next few months, they may find wine bottles among the fresh-baked bread, local fruits, vegetables and homemade preserves, Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports. While some counties already permitted wine sales at farmers markets, a new state law to take effect June 1 will establish a statewide permit for wineries that removes county-specific restrictions.

ARUNDEL ALTERS RAIN TAX: Anne Arundel County’s stormwater fee hasn’t been collected yet, but the County Council has already changed it, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. By a 7-0 vote Monday night, council members agreed to reduce the maximum fee that commercial property owners would pay and to phase in the fee for some property owners.

NEW DHCD HOME: The Maryland Department of General Services has selected a site in New Carrollton to be the new home for the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development under a lease proposal to be considered for approval later this month, Daniel Sernovitz writes in the Baltimore Business Journal.

READERS SURVEY: We’d like to hear from our readers on whether we should be including more content from the Daily Record. Baltimore’s legal and business newspaper has lots of good coverage of state issues, but almost all its original coverage is behind a paywall that doesn’t even allow a minimum number of page views first, as do the Sun and the Capital. If you’re not a subscriber, you get only one sentence. Would you like MarylandReporter.com to include more Daily Record stories in its State Roundup even though nonsubscribers won’t be able to read the story? If the answer is YES, just send an email to Len@MarylandReporter.com and put the word YES in the subject line. Since yesterday, only six people have voted YES.

GUILLORY DEPARTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s communications director and long-time aide Raquel Guillory will leave the governor’s office at the end of the month for another job in state government, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. Guillory is the fourth high-level staffer to depart the governor’s office since the November election.

DUNCAN SEEKS EXEC SEAT: Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, seeking to reclaim the office he held for three terms, held his first major public event Sunday, a picnic fundraiser where he received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. John Delaney, writes Bill Turque for the Post.

Delaney received Duncan’s endorsement in the 2012 congressional race. Incumbent County Executive Ike Leggett initially planned to retire at the end of his second term, but is now considering whether to seek a third term in 2014, reports Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette.

Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland has an interesting take on Duncan’s announcement, writing, “An eerie fog hung over Montgomery County for most of the day Sunday, the kind that makes you think of ghosts and spirits and raising the dead. A too-simple metaphor, perhaps, but an unavoidable one, for Doug Duncan’s comeback attempt, on the day he happened to hold the first big public event of his 2014 campaign for county executive.”

DELANEY PROPOSES BANK: Freshman Congressman John Delaney plans to roll out his signature legislative initiative for his first term — a plan for a national infrastructure bank that requires no federal appropriations, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The proposal is an innovative financing measure that relies on the sort of economic opportunities Delaney exploited when he founded two publicly traded financial services firms that have helped make him one of the richest members of Congress.

TU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR LEAVES: Towson University athletic director Mike Waddell is leaving the school after less than three years to take a job at the University of Arkansas, a move that comes as Towson’s athletics department has been under fire for cutting its men’s soccer team, Ryan Sharrow reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. A proposal, set forth by Waddell, also called for the elimination of the university’s baseball team, but an influx of $300,000 in state money saved the program for the next two years.

The timing of Waddell’s decision to leave Towson might indicate that he found the climate uncomfortable, though the position he will be taking at the Southeastern Conference school involves many of his strong suits as an administrator, reports Don Markus of the Sun.

ARMED ON CAMPUS: Some Carroll Community College campus safety personnel will soon be armed on campus under a new memorandum of understanding signed Monday between the school and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Brett Lake reports in the Carroll County Times.

RETIREMENT QUESTIONED: Heather Rawlyk of the Capital-Gazette writes that Anne Arundel Republicans are questioning the timing and motives behind the retirement of longtime county State’s Attorney Frank Weathersbee. Alan Rzepkowski, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee of Anne Arundel County, criticized the six-term incumbent for resigning before his term is up and lobbying for Deputy State’s Attorney Tom Fleckenstein, a top donor to Weathersbee’s 2010 campaign, to take his place until the 2014 election.