State Roundup, July 9, 2013

July 09, 2013 at 7:57 am

DEL. BURNS TO RETIRE: Del. Emmett Burns, a prominent opponent of same-sex marriage and other gay rights initiatives in Annapolis for the last two decades, is officially retiring from the state legislature next year — capping a long career in which his stance on gay issues has increasingly put him at odds with legislative colleagues and younger voters, Kevin Rector writes in the Sun.

BAY CLEANUP: There is progress on short-term cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, but none of the states are meeting all their commitments, according to an interim report that also calls for more independent verification of cleanup efforts, Pat Furgurson reports for the Capital-Gazette.

The mixed assessment released Monday is based on an analysis of benchmarks each state and the District of Columbia are aiming to meet by year’s end to help measure progress to restore the bay and keep the cleanup on track, the AP’s Steve Szkotak writes in the Salisbury Daily Times.

TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday touted close to $650 million in planned spending on transportation projects in Prince George’s County, including some new interchanges that have languished on the drawing board for years, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette reports that Gov. O’Malley said the projects will reduce traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety and create 4,000 jobs.

RAIN TAX REPEAL: The state’s new stormwater fee has caused a flood of complaints from property owners across the state, and now some lawmakers are trying to repeal it, according to a story at WBFF-TV. The fee, which took effect July 1, is a tax on impervious surfaces meaning anything that does not absorb water.

FILM TAX CREDITS QUESTIONED: The use of tax credits to lure production of the Netflix series “House of Cards” to Maryland has renewed a nationwide debate among lawmakers over the benefits of offering high-dollar incentives to encourage Hollywood to come to them, writes Meredith Somers in the Washington Times. Del. Mark Fisher recently questioned the practice when residents in recent years have seen increases to the sales and gas taxes.

NEW CHIEF LOBBYIST: Gov. O’Malley has tapped Jeanne Hitchcock, a longtime aide, to take over as his chief lobbyist with the General Assembly, replacing Stacy Mayer, who O’Malley last week named as a district court judge in Baltimore County, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

KUDOS FROM BIZ GROUP: Many Washington County lawmakers have earned high marks in a business advocacy group’s annual score card that grades state legislators on the basis of how they voted on certain key measures related to the economic environment during the 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly, Kaustuv Basu writes in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

TRAILS IN GARRETT: Two years after closing a pair of off-highway vehicle trails on state forests in Western Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources is close to living up to a promise to replace one of them with a loop in eastern Garrett County, Michael Sawyers reports for the Cumberland Times-News.

EARLY PRIMARY COLOR IS BLUE: Under the headline “Shock and Tawes,” Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland sees the disadvantages to Maryland’s early primary and where and when we’ll have a chance to rub elbows with all those gubernatorial primary candidates.

BROWN SNAGS MESSINA, $1M: Lt. Gov Anthony Brown’s campaign announced Monday it raised $1 million since early April – narrowing a fundraising disadvantage – and it hired President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, to help Brown try to win the governor’s mansion, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

“It’s a totally different world now,” Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, told reporters following an event in Largo at which Brown announced the $1 million figure, in addition to his hiring of Jim Messina as a senior adviser, reports John Wagner of the Post.

Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette reports that Messina said he will apply the same focus on technology and social media that helped push Obama to a second victory to the Brown campaign’s grass-roots efforts.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record writes that Messina has said, “All that experience has led me to a simple conclusion: Anthony Brown is one of the most incredible leaders I’ve met — a true model for our next generation of leaders.”

LIERMAN BACKS BROWN: In his run for governor, Lt. Gov. Brown has picked up an endorsement from a former Maryland Democratic Party chair and aide to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer. Terry Lierman, who challenged U.S. Rep Connie Morella for the District 8 Congressional seat in 2000, is backing the Brown-Ulman ticket, according to the Gazette.

KITTLEMAN NEEDS DEMS: In an analysis for MarylandReporter.com, Len Lazarick writes that it’s no secret that Sen. Allan Kittleman will need lots of Democrats to vote for a Republican for Howard County executive for him to accomplish what the GOP did 23 years ago — take over the county government.

FREDERICK PRIVATIZATION ENDING: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports that Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young says that the era of wholesale privatization in Frederick County government is coming to a close, and the surviving three-quarters of the county workforce can breathe a sigh of relief.

JONES’ FUTURE: Joel McCord of WYPR-FM speaks with Allison Bourg of the Capitol-Gazette talk about the Maryland Court of Appeals’ decision that the Anne Arundel County Council improperly removed Daryl Jones in January of last year, and what that means for Jones’ replacement.

STANSBURY HONORED: Wendi Winters of the Capital-Gazette writes that Gerald Stansbury was not yet 12 when civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated June 12, 1963, in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Miss. The president of the state chapter of the NAACP is one of seven from across the United States receiving the inaugural Medgar W. Evers Medal of Freedom to be presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at its 104th annual conference next week.

RENEWABLES EXEMPTED: A new proposal to exempt renewable sources from Montgomery County’s controversial tax on energy will soon go before the County Council. County Executive Ike Leggett’s administration has proposed a bill that would exempt renewable sources, such as wind and solar, from being taxed. Currently all sources of energy are taxed, generating about $220 million each year for the county, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

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