September 17, 2013

State Roundup, September 17, 2013

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GUN PROCESSING: The Maryland attorney general’s office believes a program to speed up the processing of firearm applications doesn’t violate gun owner’s privacy rights, writes Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News. The office was responding to concerns voiced by Del. Kevin Kelly about the use of non-police personnel from other state agencies to process the applications. Kelly had been pressing Maryland State Police officials to speed processing of a serious backlog in gun applications.

GUN PROPOSAL CHALLENGE: Gun-rights advocates will return to Annapolis on Sept. 23 to challenge proposed Maryland State Police regulations that would require would-be handgun purchasers to fire the weapons on a test range in order to get a license, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

GUN LAW ADS: Radio advertisements praising Maryland’s new gun law will begin airing in the Baltimore area this week, advocates said, and two prominent Democrats – House Speaker Michael Busch and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – will lend their voices to supporting the campaign, writes the Sun’s Erin Cox.

BAY RULING, CLEANUP: The head of a regional Riverkeeper group said a judge’s ruling allowing the EPA to establish pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay means cleanup efforts won’t be “derailed,” writes Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of the EPA in a lawsuit against the agency, brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation, regarding laws aimed to improve conditions in the Bay.

The farm bureau federation may appeal the ruling, according to a report at WYPR-FM.

SECESSION MOVES: In addressing the Western Maryland secession movement, the editorialists for the Capital-Gazette write that the polarization of American politics, and the extinction of moderate Maryland Republicans who could occasionally win a statewide race, have left many in the state’s outlying areas embittered. They feel they are being ruled by a dictatorial liberal Washington-Baltimore axis that, among many other things, has gerrymandered away their congressional seats

DOCTOR DISPENSERS: Patients obtaining the pain-killer Vicodin directly from a doctor in Maryland will pay nearly three times more than if they purchased it directly from a pharmacy, reports Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com. A study, released this month by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, compared prices and found a markup for physician dispensed medications within Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation System.

GARAGIOLA JOINS LAW FIRM: Rob Garagiola, who stepped down this month as majority leader of the Maryland Senate, has joined Alexander & Cleaver, a law firm with a major lobbying presence in Annapolis, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.

Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting that Garagiola will be leading Alexander & Cleaver’s new office in Montgomery County, where he lives and had represented in the Senate for 12 years.

THE LOBBYISTS: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland pulls back the curtains on the other power brokers in Annapolis – the lobbyists – to let us know who is moving to where and what they’ll be doing.

MSEA ad

CRAIG ON RAIN TAX: Harford County Executive David Craig, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2014, will use an auto dealership as a backdrop Tuesday for an attack on the storm water management fee that opponents have dubbed the “rain tax,” reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

LOLLAR ON STEINER: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts Charles Lollar, who discusses his bid for Republican nomination for governor of Maryland. Lollar is a businessman and Marine Corps Reserve officer from Charles County.

GANSLER NARROWS SEARCH: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler has narrowed his search for a running mate to a handful of names and is likely to announce his pick next month, reports John Wagner for the Post. Several African American officials from Baltimore and Prince George’s County are apparently in the mix. Baltimore Comptroller Joan Pratt confirmed that she recently talked to Gansler about the lieutenant governor position.

MIKULSKI CHIDES VA OFFICE: In a letter sent Monday to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland’s senior senator, Barbara Mikulski, called on the VA’s Baltimore office to develop an action plan within 10 days to improve its “lackluster” approach to an initiative designed to speed up the time it takes to process disability claims, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun.

JONES RETURNS TO AA COUNCIL: Daryl Jones is back on the County Council. Councilman Pete Smith resigned his seat Monday night, clearing the way for Jones to take back the position held for more than five years, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette. Smith’s decision marks the end of a nearly two-year saga on the council, one that thrust the county into uncharted territory. Jones and Smith shook hands before Jones regained his former chair during a council meeting Monday night.

GRASSO OUT OF RACE: Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso said Monday night that he’s dropping out of the county executive’s race in 2014. Grasso said he realized running for executive would take a lot of money and that he was up against two talented candidates in the Republican primary: Del. Steve Schuh and County Executive Laura Neuman, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

PEACE ORDER: Frederick Commissioners President Blaine Young and Frederick resident David Salomon say they hope the back-and-forth between them is at an end thanks to a peace order and a mutual agreement not to talk, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post. Young obtained a six-month peace order on Monday barring Salomon from calling him or coming to his home. As part of the court order, Young consented to not contact Salomon.

CITY CURFEWS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM holds a roundtable discussion on a proposal to tighten curfews for children in Baltimore City.