June 6, 2013

State Roundup, June 6, 2013

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GARAGIOLA TO RESIGN: Maryland Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, once among the state’s brightest young political stars, plans to resign his seat this fall and has no plans to seek elected office, reports John Wagner in the Post. Garagiola, 40, who lost a Democratic primary for Congress last year that he was heavily favored to win, said his decision to step down was driven largely by his desire to spend more time with his three children.

PROBE OF DETENTION CENTER: As a young city prosecutor, then a council member, then mayor and then governor, Martin O’Malley has had to contend with the crowded, mismanaged and ultimately corrupt Baltimore City Detention Center. Today, the Maryland General Assembly will begin probing what federal authorities say has been a years-long failure of leadership under the Maryland governor, reports Aaron Davis CORRECTION in the Washington Post Sun.

INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS: Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that Gov. O’Malley plans to beef up the internal investigations unit at the state corrections agency and subject all prospective officers to polygraph tests, according to a summary of reforms his administration will discuss at a legislative hearing today on problems at the Baltimore jail. The state has been trying to crack down on corruption since 13 female corrections officers were indicted this spring.

GUN CONTROL REVOLT: A growing revolt in rural counties against the state’s new gun control law has spread to far Western Maryland, where the Garrett County sheriff called the measure unconstitutional this week and said he would enforce only the provisions he believes are valid, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. This follows the adoption of resolutions by the governing bodies of Carroll and Cecil counties saying those jurisdictions will not use any county resources to enforce the Maryland Firearms Safety Act, passed by the General Assembly this year and signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in May.

GUN CONTROL ROLE MODEL: Fraser Smith, in a commentary for WYPR-FM, writes that, more than a month after their success in this year’s General Assembly, gun control campaigners are still smiling – and wondering if their success might be duplicated elsewhere.

TINY HOSPITAL RATE HIKE: A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to increase the rates hospitals can charge by 1.65%, but medical institutions say the amount is inadequate and will collectively drive hospitals into the red, writes Andrea Walker for the Sun.

Officials say the medical facilities have faced declining operating margins and took a hit when federal budget cuts slashed their share of Medicaid funding by 2%, writes Andy Brownfield in the Washington Examiner. The commission denied hospitals’ request for increased rates last month, before approving the modest bump Wednesday.

RECORD CASINO REVENUE: James Briggs of the Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that Maryland’s four casinos in May set another monthly record for revenue, hauling in $69.17 million. The previous record, set in April, was $59 million.

RON GEORGE KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: Republican Del. Ron George became the latest Maryland gubernatorial hopeful to make his 2014 bid official, promising supporters he would roll back a gas-tax increase, cut business taxes and focus on job creation, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

George, an Annapolis jeweler, launched his campaign for governor Wednesday in a small room with a big crowd that enthusiastically embraced his message of lower taxes and smaller, more efficient government, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com. “It must be so frustrating for the Democrats that we just don’t give up,” said George.

Red Maryland compares the campaign kickoff held by Ron George with that of David Craig’s.

CRAIG ON TOUR: Republican gubernatorial candidate David Craig continued his weeklong announcement tour Wednesday, shaking hands and rallying supporters in downtown Salisbury, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

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DISTRICT 33 RACE: Two Republicans have announced their bid for state delegate in District 33, writes Allison Bourg in her Political Notes column in the Capital-Gazette. She also writes about a fundraiser for Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, among other items.

STATE SENATE CANDIDATE: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the first candidate for Maryland’s 37th District Senate seat has emerged. Running in the Democratic primary for the district (now represented by Republican Sen. Rich Colburn) that extends from the middle of Wicomico County through all of Dorchester County and lower sections of Talbot and Caroline counties, Cheryl Everman hopes to use her business and family experiences to advance the mid-Shore.

CITY BOARD DELAYS $29M CONTRACT: The Baltimore City Board of Estimates abruptly deferred the award of a $20 million information technology contract after City Hall’s leading lobbyist intervened on behalf of a rival company. Shortly before the start of the meeting, lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones submitted a letter on behalf of Digicon Corp. to at least one member of the spending panel, writes Mark Reutter for the Baltimore Brew. Last week, Jones was married to her partner in Las Vegas in a wedding officiated by Baltimore’s mayor and attended by a number of elected officials.

POST PAYWALL: The Washington Post announced a plan to start charging for some content.