September 13, 2013

State Roundup, Friday, September 13, 2013

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POT COMMISSION: Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday named 11 people, including health professionals, lawyers, a police chief and a prosecutor, to a commission to oversee Maryland’s new law legalizing marijuana use for medical reasons, writes Tim Wheeler for the Sun.

The Post’s John Wagner writes that Maryland’s new law limits distribution of marijuana to a small number of qualified academic medical centers. Under the law, the commission has the authority to permit the centers to design and implement programs that make marijuana available to defined groups of patients.

MARIJUANA LOBBY: If the nation’s largest marijuana lobbying organization has its way, Maryland will legalize marijuana by 2017, according to a CNS story in the Frederick News Post. The Marijuana Policy Project announced this week that Maryland and nine other states will be targets of a renewed push for marijuana policy reform. That means legislation like the decriminalization bill introduced by state Sen. Bobby Zirkin may have a better chance of making progress in the next General Assembly session.

COPS GET GUN CHECK DUTY: About 20 police officers from across the state have been enlisted to help the Maryland State Police complete tens of thousands of background checks for gun buyers that have been languishing for several months. Half of the state’s gun dealers have stopped waiting for the checks to be completed. The state police announced Thursday it was launching a second phase to clear the backlog before a new handgun law takes effect at the end of the month, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Alex Jackson of the Capital Gazette discuss the renewed momentum and talk among Maryland Democrats to raise the minimum wage.

A SECESSIONIST’S LAMENT: Donald Fry, writing an op-ed for Center Maryland, says that realistically, New Windsor secessionist Scott Strzelczyk stands virtually no chance of lopping off Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties from Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the rest of the state. But his complaint about fairness strikes a resonant chord with more than you might have thought while you were giggling at this news story.

FREDERICK REPAYS STATE: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young announced at a board meeting that Frederick County has sent a check for $200,000 to the state to repay a grant for construction of the county’s nursing and assisted living centers, according to the Frederick News Post. There are 33 comments following the short article and a PDF of the letter to the left.

STORMWATERFEE MEETINGS: Allison Bourg of the Capital Gazette writes that Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman and other county officials will hold town hall meetings to discuss stormwater fees that went into effectin July. In a statement, Neuman said she still gets contacted by residents with questions. Neuman vetoed the original stormwater bill, but the veto was overridden by the council.

PERRY, O’MALLEY WRESTLE: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking Gov. Martin O’Malley up on his offer to visit Maryland after criticizing the state for high taxes in radio and TV ads that started running Thursday. Perry will hold meetings with a number of private companies in Maryland next Wednesday, reports CNS’s Lucy Westcott in the Capital Gazette.

Gov. O’Malley had some choice words Thursday night for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s planning to come to the Free State next week with the goal of getting some Maryland businesses to relocate. “I know from past experience that the gentleman is all hat and no cattle,” O’Malley said of Perry during a pre-dinner reception at a Maryland Democratic Party gala in Greenbelt, reports John Wagner for the Post.

“I debated Gov. Perry before. I did it only once. I kicked his (expletive). And he’s never come back for more,” Gov. O’Malley told the more than 650 state Democrats gathered in a Greenbelt ballroom for an annual fundraiser. The audience erupted in applause to O’Malley’s zinger, which the governor followed with a list of statistics that ranked Maryland above Texas in schools, economic achievement and median income and below the Lone Start state in poverty rates and residents without health insurance, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.

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GANSLER SETS KICKOFF: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler plans to officially kick off his 2014 campaign for governor on Sept. 24 with a seven-day tour, reports John Wagner for the Post.

FELDMAN REPLACES GARAGIOLA: Brian Feldman has been appointed by Gov. O’Malley to fill the vacated Senate seat of Rob Garagiola, writes John Wagner for the Post. Feldman was the unanimous choice of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee for the District 15 Senate seat at a meeting on Tuesday night.

FELDMAN’S REPLACEMENT: As a result of Feldman’s elevation to the Senate, his own seat in the House of Delegates will also be vacant soon. Here’s Maryland Juice’s most recent list of possible candidates: Saqib Ali, former House of Delegates member; Lori Askinazi, founder/president of L.A. Interiors; David Fraser-Hidalgo, area director for Regus; Tim Hwang, founder/CEO of FiscalNote; Hamza Khan, communications coordinator at Cont3nt.com; Kevin Mack, aide to U.S. Rep. John Delaney; Tony Puca, senior loan officer at Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers; Venattia Vann, MCDCC vice-chair; and Jinhee Wilde, principal and managing partner of Wilde & Associates. And there is time for more candidates who wish to apply.

TU PRESIDENT ILL: Towson University President Maravene Loeschke had a medical emergency during her annual fall address to the campus Thursday afternoon, though she did not need to go to a hospital, writes Carrie Wells for the Sun.

ANNAPOLIS MAYOR’S RACE: The five candidates for Annapolis mayor made a final appeal to voters during a forum in Easport Thursday night, five days before Tuesday’s primary election. During a quick-moving, hour-long forum, the candidates covered topics as varied as City Dock redevelopment, the free Circulator bus, crime, greenhouse gas emissions and water quality, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

A pair of them is leading the latest money battle as the race for Annapolis mayor enters the home stretch, reports Jack Lambert for the Capital Gazette. Republican candidate Mike Pantelides carries the most cash with more than $23,300 in his campaign’s coffers as of Sept. 8, while Democratic candidate Bevin Buchheister raised more than $14,800 during the last campaign cycle.

GUN APPLICATIONS: State Sen. Nancy Jacobs wants federal investigators to look into whether state officials broke any laws by allowing workers from state agencies other than the Maryland State Police to process paperwork for firearm purchase applications, Ryan Marshall reports in the Gazette.

MoCo HAIRCUTS: Maryland law has a single sentence that one Montgomery County lawmaker says needs to be shaved from the code, writes Kate Alexander in the Gazette. It reads: “A barbershop in Montgomery County may not open for business more than 6 days a week.” Del. Eric Luedtke says the old law needs to go and has drafted a bill repealing it.