July 12, 2013

State Roundup, July 12, 2013

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MANDATORY GUN SENTENCE: The Sun’s Andrea Siegel and Michael Dresser report that authorities are warning that a ruling by Maryland’s highest court could take away a powerful weapon in the fight against crime: the state’s mandatory five-year, no-parole sentence for gun possession by certain convicted felons.

EX-CON HEALTH BENEFITS: State officials are working to make sure people being released from prison will sign up for benefits during the 2014 Medicaid expansion, reports Chris Goins for MarylandReporter.com.

MIDDLE OF THE PACK: Depending on one’s party affiliation, Maryland is either an economic powerhouse or a national laggard with serious business-climate issues, writes Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record. But a report released by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center on Tuesday, which compiled multiple economic indicators for all 50 states, suggests the Free State is really just in the middle of the pack. The article appears in the Maryland Public Policy Institute.

TRIPLE-A GO BONDS: According to Business Wire, Fitch Ratings assigns a Triple-A rating to the second series of Maryland general obligation bonds, which will be sold via competitive sale on July 24.

NEW BAY PACT: Three decades after the region’s leaders first committed to work together to restore Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, state and federal officials this fall hope to sign a new agreement to help guide future efforts, writes Karl Blankenship for the Chestertown Spy.

BAY MATTERS: Farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, have something important in common with environmentalists, watermen and anyone else who is affected by the health of the bay’s waters: a vital stake in passage of the farm bill that Congress failed to pass this year, opines the editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times.

E-ZPASS SCOFFLAWS: The state is cracking down on drivers who skip the toll–drivers who have cost Maryland millions in lost revenue. Now, if you blow through an E-ZPass lane and don’t pay up, your license could be suspended. Kai Jackson of WJZ-TV reports the story.

BUSINESS RATINGS: Ambassador and Red Maryland contributor Ellen Sauerbrey joined Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland Radio and Kim Burns to discuss Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s report on the voting records of Maryland’s General Assembly. That discussion starts at around 4:52.

MOON PARK: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Space Subcommittee, has introduced legislation that would establish a national park on the surface of the moon to commemorate NASA’s Apollo program, the Sun’s John Fritze reports.

CRAIG PICKS RUNNING MATE: John Wagner of the Post reports that several people familiar with the pick say that Maryland 2014 Republican gubernatorial contender David Craig on Tuesday plans to unveil Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio(R-Talbot) as his running mate.

The duo is expected to hold two news conferences Tuesday to give more details about the campaign’s future and Haddaway-Riccio’s vision, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. The first will be at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis at 10 a.m., and the second will be in St. Michael’s at 5 p.m.

BROWN’S SMART MOVES: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that much has been made over the announcement that Jim Messina, the campaign manager for President Obama’s re-election, is going to become a strategist for Anthony Brown’s campaign for governor. Any degree of assistance Messina can offer Brown will be a tremendous asset to the lieutenant governor’s campaign. But does anyone really believe that Messina will be doing a lot of work on Brown’s behalf?

NO DRONES OVER CARROLL: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that some members of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, concerned that drones could be flying over Carroll County, peering into houses and scoping out citizens, are contemplating introducing a resolution expressing their feelings against surveillance from unmanned aerial vehicles.

ELECTION SEASON HITS MONTGOMERY: The 2014 Democratic primary is still nearly a year away, but Montgomery County’s election season appears to be in full flower, writes Bill Turque in the Post. Take the recent debate over proposed changes in the law governing arbitrated collective bargaining agreements.

NEUMAN TO RUN FOR SEAT: Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman will seek election to her appointed position, setting up at least a three-way Republican primary election in 2014, Allison Bourg reports in the Capital-Gazette. Neuman will square off against Del. Steve Schuh, a well-funded candidate who competed against her for the county executive vacancy in February, and County Councilman John Grasso.

Neuman was appointed by the County Council in February to replace disgraced former County Executive John Leopold, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun.

DELEGATE RACE: Republican Wendi Peters, a former Mt. Airy city council member, announced a run for delegate in District 4, Cara Anthony reports in the Frederick News-Post. There are three GOP incumbents in that Frederick-Carroll district.

CECIL ‘HIRE LOCAL’ BILL: Cecil County Council President Robert Hodge wants to promote the use of Cecil County companies to provide products, services and/or employees for construction projects valued at more than $250,000, reports Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig. Hodge floated a preliminary draft of legislation he calls “Local Business Initiative.”

TRIB TO SPIN OFF PAPERS: The Baltimore Sun’s owner said Wednesday that it plans to spin off its newspapers as a separate company, the latest move in the Tribune Co.’s effort to focus on the more profitable broadcasting industry, Robert Channick and Jamie Smith Hopkins report in the Sun.