September 10, 2013

State Roundup, September 10, 2013

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GUN PERMIT BACKLOG: A Maryland delegate has asked the state attorney general’s office whether it was legal for State Police to allow up to 200 state employees from five agencies to view confidential information about prospective gun buyers as officials process a massive backlog of gun applications, reports Meredith Somers for the Washington Times.

LOSING WESTERN MARYLAND: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes about the Western Maryland secessionist movement, on the one hand bemoaning the potential loss of some seriously bucolic land and on the other suggesting that those who are feel disenfranchised from the rest of the state start a GOP voter registration drive.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: The editorial board for the Sun writes that a governor’s last year of his last term are perfect for horse-trading. But leaders should resist offering a corporate tax cut in order to get the minimum wage raised to much needed levels.

HUNGER IN MARYLAND: According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, more than 1 in 8 Maryland households struggled with hunger from 2010 to 2012, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star-Democrat. September is Hunger Action Month and. on the Eastern Shore, more than 42,000 people are food insecure — those who don’t have consistent access to adequate nutrition.

HUM, SQUEAL, RING: Agnes Blum of the Gazette writes about an MTA impact study of the Purple Line, writing that the 16 mile, two-county line will bring with it the hum of power substations, the squealing of wheels and the ringing of warning bells according to the final environmental impact study released Thursday.

$10 MILLION FOR PORT: Vice President Joe Biden highlighted a $10 million federal grant Monday for improvements at the Port of Baltimore as part of a larger push to help modernize the nation’s maritime infrastructure, reports John Wagner of the Post. Biden appeared with Gov. Martin O’Malley, both U.S. senators from Maryland and three of the state’s congressmen.

Biden visited the port’s Seagirt Marine Terminal in Dundalk more than a week after the Maryland congressional delegation announced the grant, which will help pay for improving access to that terminal and an expansion of Fairfield Marine Terminal in South Baltimore, writes Kevin Rector of the Sun.

MIZEUR ENDORSED: Del. Heather Mizeur has picked up the endorsement of veteran Baltimore City Council member Mary Pat Clarke in for her bid for governor next year, reports John Wagner of the Post.

MIKULSKI ON SYRIA: The dean of Maryland’s congressional delegation and a prominent voice in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, said on Monday that she supports giving President Barack Obama authorization to strike Syria, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

Ben Pershing of the Post reports that Mikulski’s support provides the administration a key backer from a wing of the Democratic Party that has been hesitant to get on board.

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DUTCH ON SYRIA: Hours before receiving another intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill Monday, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger told business leaders in Annapolis that he supported action to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, Patch.com is reporting.

YOUNG SEEKS PROTECTION: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young has secured a temporary peace order against a man he claims called him 12 times in a row and made death threats, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. But the man claims it is Young who is doing the harassing.

ARUNDEL SWAT DATA: Elizabeth Myers of Watchdog Wire reports that Anne Arundel County participates in required reporting in Maryland of action by Special Weapons and Tactics teams every six months. But when Watchdog Wire requested the information from the county, it was refused.

JONES CASE IN JUDGE’S HANDS: The question of whether Daryl Jones will return to the Anne Arundel County Council is in a judge’s hands, reports Allison Bourg in the Capital-Gazette. Retired Circuit Court Judge Arthur Ahalt didn’t say when he would rule on the case following an hour-long hearing Monday in Annapolis. Much of the hearing focused on the Severn Democrat’s federal tax violations, which landed him in prison for five months last year.

TIGHTER CURFEW PROPOSED: Top Baltimore City officials are supporting an effort to tighten Baltimore’s curfew law that could require children younger than 14 to be off the street as early as 9 p.m., writes Yvonne Wenger for the Sun.

HARBOR POINT CONSTRUCTION: Construction to convert an old chemical plant site to a glittering waterfront development could begin next month after the Baltimore City Council gave final approval Monday to more than $100 million in taxpayer assistance for the controversial Harbor Point project, Luke Broadwater is reporting for the Sun.

WMAR-TV reports that the council meeting did not occur without protests.

And Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports that a group of Fells Point residents is seeking answers to what they say has been masked during the public debate – the human health risks associated with opening the site to construction.

TAX COLLECTION AUDIT: The agency that collects most Maryland taxes had lax controls over granting tax credits and refund checks, and in one case issued a $101,000 refund that wasn’t due, state auditors found. The comptroller’s Revenue Administration Division also had computer programming errors and did not adequately protect sensitive taxpayer information, according to an audit report. Four of the auditor’s findings were problems identified in previous audits.