August 9, 2013

State Roundup, August 9, 2013

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STATE’S GAMBLING TAKE: Maryland’s lottery and casino industries generated $929 million for the state during the last fiscal year, writes Chris Korman for the Sun. Traditional lottery sales decreased 2.2%, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency reported, but gains from four casinos contributed to a total increase of 35% over what the state received during the previous fiscal year.

REPLACING PIPKIN: The members of the 36th District delegation were together at Kent County GOP headquarters on Wednesday for a small event for Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. But what was on the minds of Dels. Stephen Hershey, Jay Jacobs and Mike Smigiel is who will replace outgoing Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Daniel Menefee reports in the Chestertown Spy.

WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Joel McCord talk about Pipkin’s decision to move to Texas and how this is a blow to both Maryland GOP and Democratic leaders.

NEW STATE IT CHIEF: According to an AP story in the Daily Record, Gov. Martin O’Malley has named a new secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology. The governor announced Thursday that Isabel FitzGerald, deputy secretary for operations at the Maryland Department of Human Resources since 2012, will lead the department.

AUDIT, AUDIT, AUDIT: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron George, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that, despite what Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to think is an endless base for tax revenue, Maryland has limited resources. Waste is one of the persistent problems that diminishes the impact of vital programs. It is time for our state to have independent audits of all departments and agencies.

TAX FREE WEEK: Maryland’s tax-free shopping week starts Sunday and lasts through Aug. 17 and includes back-to-school essentials like clothing and shoes, reports Cheryl Conner for WBFF-TV.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a common-sense immigration reform measure in a strongly bipartisan fashion. This was an important step in the right direction — especially for producers, farm workers and rural communities, writes Lucie Snodgrass, Maryland executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, in an op-ed in the Sun. In Maryland, for example, eliminating the immigrant labor force would cost between $41 million and $75 million in short-term production losses.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Even as immigrant advocates applauded a federal court ruling that limits local efforts to target people in the country illegally, some Frederick County officials insisted that they should continue to play a role in deporting them, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

CASA de Maryland, LatinoJustice and the law firm Nixon Peabody had announced that a federal appeals court ruled that Frederick County’s Tea Party Sheriff Chuck Jenkins illegally detained a Latino immigrant, David Moon at Maryland Juice blogs.

SUPPORT FOR DEPUTIES: Frederick County sheriff’s deputies on Thursday received an emailed note of thanks and support signed by their county commissioners. But one name was noticeably missing, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. Frederick deputies had been in the news recently, what with the appeals court ruling that they had unlawfully arrested a Salvadoran woman in October 2008 and widespread publicity about the death a man with Down syndrome who died in January while in the custody of off-duty sheriff’s deputies.

RUN FOR FREDERICK EXEC: Former County Commissioner Jan Gardner has left her job as state director for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. What could be next for her? Reached by phone this week, Gardner said she’s taking some time to think about her future, but declined to give any clues about whether an elected office is on her mind. She did acknowledge that many people are urging her to run for Frederick County executive in 2014, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

RUN FOR FREDERICK COUNCIL: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post writes that elementary school music teacher Jessica Fitzwater says she loves working with students while they’re too young to care what people think. Her willingness to step forward could move her from the orchestra hall to Winchester Hall; Fitzwater says she’s “strongly considering” running for the District 4 seat on the Frederick County Council in 2014.

BOYCOTT FLORIDA: If Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby has his way, Baltimore City government would boycott Florida-based businesses to protest that state’s stand-your-ground lawafter George Zimmerman’s acquittal, reports Yvonne Wenger for the Sun. Mosby intends to file a resolution on Monday to encourage city agencies and investment boards to avoid doing business with companies in the Sunshine State.

HARBOR POINT HOO HAH: Baltimore City Council member Carl Stokes came out swinging in the wake after a stormy Harbor Point hearing. He said his fellow committee members and City Council President Jack Young showed “an arrogant display of corruption” in forcing passage of the $107 million TIF financing bill for the Harbor Point project, which has been criticized roundly by nearby neighborhoods, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM continues to look at the controversial proposal of public financial support for the $1.1 billion Harbor Point development in Harbor East.

O’MALLEY URGES AID TO CITIES: Gov. Martin O’Malley called for greater federal investment in the nation’s cities as he campaigned in New Jersey on Thursday for the election of Newark Mayor Cory Booker to the U.S. Senate, John Wagner writes in the Post.

OBAMACARE & INSURERS: Barry Rascovar of politicalmaryland.com writes that Obamacare’s success could depend on competition – a word Republicans should be championing – among insurance companies for all the tens of millions of new potential customers. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for insurers who can dramatically expand their subscriber base while maintaining a decent profit margin.

SOC SEC LEADERSHIP: Six months after the former Social Security Administration commissioner left his post, the Obama administration has yet to nominate a replacement — leaving a leadership gap as the Woodlawn-based agency wrestles with shrinking budgets and hard choices, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Interim leaders at the agency, which serves nearly 57 million beneficiaries, are making lasting decisions about whether to close public field offices and furlough employees as they implement $890 million in budget cuts called for under sequestration.

VOTER ROLLS: Election Integrity Maryland, a voting-watchdog group, also said the Maryland State Board of Elections is not complying with the National Voter Registration Act by not removing dead voters, putting Maryland’s elections at risk, St. John Barned-Smith writes in the Gazette. But a board official said the board constantly updates voter rolls and Election Integrity Maryland’s claims show it doesn’t understand “basic components” of the National Voter Registration Act.

PURPLE LINE P3: Officials are hoping that this week’s announcement of $680 million in state funding — along with a further commitment to find a private partner in a “P3” arrangement — for the Purple Line will give that project the shot in the arm it needs to finally move toward reality, Kevin James Shay reports in the Gazette.

MUSICAL CHAIRS: The Gazette’s Agnes Blum writes that Montgomery County politics resembles a game of musical chairs these days, with elected officials switching seats and newcomers circling around looking for an empty one. She focuses on District 16 in Bethesda.

DISTRICT 14: Sylvia Carignan in the Gazette reports on Democratic newcomer John Paul Evans, a young IT worker, challenging the incumbents in District 14 of Montgomery County.

PATCH PROBLEMS: Media blogger Jim Romenesko writes about potential mass layoffs at Patch.com.

ENVIRONMENT: Gazette columnist Blair Lee writes about Maryland’s environmental austerity under Gov. Martin O’Malley as he tries to reverse global trends with greenhouse gas policies in a small state.

  • snowmaggedoned

    As far as cleaning up the voter rolls in this state it will not happen for two very important reasons:

    1. Linda Lamone of the Maryland State Board of Elections is well known for her past remarks that she considers the most important part of her role on the Board is to ensure that NO Republican ever gets elected in a statewide race.

    2. It would eliminate a huge constituency of the Democrat Party – the cemetery vote.