June 11, 2013

State Roundup, June 11, 2013

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GANSLER WANTS SPECIAL COUNSEL: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler suggested Monday that Gov. Martin O’Malley appoint a special counsel to conduct an investigation into the scandal at a Baltimore jail, arguing that other inquiries underway are not sufficient, reports John Wagner of the Post.

O’MALLEY SAYS NO: Gov. O’Malley immediately rebuffed the request, saying in a letter that the federal indictments of corrections officials and inquiries by two new task forces were response enough, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox.

DELEGATES CRITICIZE ‘SOFTBALL’ HEARING: Dels. Curt Anderson and John Cluster said during a Friday appearance on Maryland Public Television’s State Circle that the hearing last week by the Legislative Policy Committee asked “kind of the softball questions,” reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

GUN CHECK BACKLOG: In the first five months of 2013, Maryland State Police received 57,732 applications to purchase a handgun or assault-style weapon — more than the agency receives in a typical year. The department is supposed to complete a background check within seven days of receiving an application, but it is now taking up to 10 weeks, writes Andy Brownfield for the Washington Examiner.

DELAYS CALL FOR PATIENCE: In light of a recent Sun story that highlighted the delays by State Police in getting through the backlog of gun buyers’ background checks and some gun shops releasing the guns anyway, the Sun editorial board writes that the delays are unfortunate but tolerable under the circumstances because the background checks are vital to keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Gun dealers and purchasers will simply have to exercise a bit of patience.

CLEAR THE DOCKET: In a op-ed piece for the Sun, attorneys James Astrachan, George Liebmann and Henry Lord write that with the retirement of Chief Judge Robert Bell from the Maryland Court of Appeals, it will be a good time for the new chief judge to address the shocking state of the docket, in which opinions languish unreleased and parties must wait too long for decisions.

TAX FREE FLAGS: In anticipation of Flag Day on Friday, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said that U.S., POW/MIA and Maryland flags are exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax, according to a brief in the Frederick News-Post. The exemption can be found under the Tax-General Article of the Maryland Code, Section 11-205.

PROTECTION FROM THE PROTECTORS: Who will protect us from those who are supposed to protect us? That is the question that lingers after the disclosure of two programs that monitor the phone records and Internet use of millions of Americans by the National Security Agency, based at Maryland’s Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, writes Len Lazarick in a commentary for MarylandReporter.com.

DEM OP TAKES AIM AT YOUNG: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland reports that a Democratic operative is alleging that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Blaine Young paid him for campaign advice, opposition research and other political activities in a relationship lasting from October 2012 through April 2013. The operative also alleges Young used his position on the Frederick County Board of Commissioners for private gain. Young denies the charges from what he calls a disgruntled employee.

GEORGE STUMPS IN SALISBURY: T he Anne Arundel Delegate who hopes to one day be governor of Maryland stopped by Salisbury on Monday, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. Del. Ron George, first elected to office in 2006, did not give a speech to party loyalists or host a lunch for excited voters, but met with some local news outlets.

THE GOP GUBERNATORIAL LINEUP: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland assesses the field of Republican candidates for governor, including everyone from those who have announced – David Craig and Ron George – to those who have hinted – Michael Steele and Blaine Young.

WHO’S RUNNING? The Sun compiled a photo gallery of those who have entered or have expressed interest in running for governor.

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ATTY. GEN. CANDIDATES: David Moon at Maryland Juice posts video of the four candidates for attorney general speaking at various political events over the last month or so. Those candidates are state Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Aisha Braveboy, Jon Cardin and Bill Frick. Moon writes that one dynamic to keep an eye on is whether the statewide candidates for governor, attorney general and comptroller begin teaming up and forming tickets.

DISTRICT 39 SLATE: A slate of Democratic lawmakers from District 39 have filed for re-election in a district in which the borders are shifting because of redistricting that will take effect in January 2015. The slate includes Sen. Nancy King and Del Shane Robinson, both of Montgomery Village, and Dels. Charles Barkley and Kirill Reznik, both of Germantown.

GETTING REDMER TO RUN: Bryan Sears of Patch.com writes that the draft Al Redmer for Baltimore County Council movement may have forgotten to invite one person. Al Redmer. “Every four years, if not every two, the phone starts to ring with folks asking or begging me to run for county executive or congress or state Senate,” said Redmer, who last served in the House of Delegates in 2003.

BAKER NAMES KEY HEADS: Miranda Spivack of the Post is reporting that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker nominated new leadership for three key departments on Monday as part of his effort to transform often cumbersome permitting and inspections procedures and step up code enforcement of everything from overgrown lawns to vacant houses.

CITY BAG FEE: Baltimore City might impose a 10-cent fee on every plastic and paper bag distributed by merchants in the city — a move praised by environmentalists as a litter deterrent but decried by some businesses who say it would hurt them and their shoppers, report Tim Wheeler and Luke Broadwater in the Sun.