August 2, 2013

State Roundup, August 2, 2013

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RISING SEAS 5: Gov. Martin O’Malley warned in December that rising sea levels over the next century would threaten “400 miles of roadways,” when he signed an executive order making protection of billions of dollars in state infrastructure a priority. That’s not the half of it. A CNS analysis shows the total impact, factoring in county-maintained roads, could be much worse, Karl Hille and Sydney Paul of CNS write in this 5th and final segment in a series in MarylandReporter.com.

EXEMPT ARUNDEL FROM STORMWATER PLAN: Del. Steve Schuh, a Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County executive, and state Sen. Bryan Simonaire have drafted a bill that would remove Anne Arundel County from a list of 10 Maryland jurisdictions included in a state funding requirement for stormwater remediation. They plan to file the bill for consideration in the next General Assembly session, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

VOTER FRAUD: News that two Maryland women have been charged with voter fraud has reinvigorated Del. Kathy Afzali’s resolve to address voter fraud as a bigger problem than is thought, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News-Post. She also writes, in her Political Notes column, that GOP candidate David Vogt announced this week that Harold “Bud” Otis would work on his campaign in the 6th Congressional District. Otis spent more than a decade on staff with U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the Republican who was voted out of office last year after 20 years representing the 6th.

ILLEGAL GUN PURCHASES: Maryland gun dealers released more than two dozen firearms to people barred from owning guns because of their criminal records — a consequence of the state’s inability to keep up with background checks, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

David Collins of WBAL-TV reports that some of the backlog stands at more than 33,000 people.

PURPLE LINE ANNOUNCEMENT: Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Monday are planning a “major announcement” about the Purple Line, an east-west light rail line that would connect New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County, reports Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

O’MALLEY PAC CONTRIBUTIONS: Gov. O’Malley’s federal political action committee accepted more than $73,000 in contributions during this year’s General Assembly session — donations that would have been unlawful if they had been directed to a state campaign, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. Because the money was sent to a campaign account set up under federal law, the governor’s O’ Say Can You See PAC could accept the money.

MD GOP BLAST OBAMA ON VACATION: Diana Waterman, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. wants to know why Camp David isn’t good enough for President Barack Obama, and is criticizing Obama’s upcoming vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, writes Allison Bourg in her Political Notes column for the Capital-Gazette.

MIZEUR’S LAST OFFICE: A year and a half from now, Del. Heather Mizeur will either be the first female governor of Maryland and the first openly gay candidate elected governor in the nation, or she’ll be growing organic herbs on the Eastern Shore. Or working on a novel. Or maybe both. But, writes Steve Hendrix for the Post, if she doesn’t prevail in her upstart run for governor, what she will not be anymore is a politician.

GANSLER CAMPAIGN: WYPR’s Joel McCord and Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record talk about how Attorney General Doug Gansler can use his office to present himself as an appealing gubernatorial candidate to voters.

PROPERTY TAXES: Baltimore City is looking for ways to ease the property tax burden on hundreds of homeowners who received unexpectedly high bills last month, officials said, as it reckons with past errors in a popular credit for historic renovations, Scott Calvert reports in the Sun.

OFFICE VACANCIES: Federal sequestration has driven down has begun eating into profits for some real estate investment trusts that have headquarters or heavy investments in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., writes Sonny Goldreich for the Gazette. Vacancy rates are up for office space.

MoCo, FREDERICK JOBS: Montgomery and Frederick counties continue to build their job base beyond pre-recession levels, Kevin James Shay reports in the Gazette. The counties added almost 6,000 jobs in June alone, according to the latest figures from the federal labor department. The counties’ combined employment level of 590,500 in June was more than 7,000 jobs higher than any previous June in the past two decades.

MoCo CHICKENS: Some residents are opposed to Montgomery County’s plan to relax zoning regulations, letting more people keep chickens in their backyards, Kate Alexander writes in the Gazette.