July 24, 2014

State Roundup, July 24, 2014

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WHY BERETTA IS MOVING: In attempting to understand the real reasons why Beretta decided to move all its gun manufacturing to Tennessee, the editorial board for the Sun writes that “it’s pretty rich for a company headquartered in Italy, which has far stricter gun control laws than Maryland, to become a Second Amendment absolutist. Perhaps a better explanation for Beretta’s newfound ardor for the Volunteer State might be found in the Nashville Business Journal’s excellent reporting on the extent to which Tennessee bent over backward to attract the gun manufacturer.”

BERETTA SHOULD RECONSIDER: WYPR-FM opinionator Fraser Smith says that Maryland’s new gun control law seems to be saving lives. But just as promising statistics are released, a major manufacturer of handguns says it will leave the state. Beretta should reconsider its decision. Maryland’s new law seems to be making this state safer for everyone, including, by the way, Beretta’s workforce.

GAS EXPORT FACILITY APPROVED: Maryland’s top elected officials gave a key approval Wednesday to developing a natural gas export facility in Southern Maryland that some fear could threaten residents’ safety and the environment, reports Tim Wheeler in the Sun. In their first and only vote on the controversy, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the other two members of the state Board of Public Works allowed the $3.4 billion project to proceed, following more than 2 1/2 hours of testimony.

BWI EXPANSION OK’D: The Maryland Board of Public works approved a $125 million project to make way for more international flights at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Under the expedited approval granted Wednesday, the Maryland Aviation Administration will pick a contractor that will begin construction this winter, reports Zoe Read for the Annapolis Capital.

IMMIGRATION CRISIS AT HOME: Sun columnist Susan Reimer writes about a surprising demonstration she came across while running errands in Annapolis. She “was so stunned I almost drove into the highway median. The hateful reaction I was seeing on television in towns in Texas, Arizona and California was playing out right in front of me. In my town. In Annapolis.”

REFORM REDISTRICTING: The Carroll County editorial board writes: “While there is no single panacea to remedy the nation’s deepening political divide, one change that could make a dent in the polarization that cripples Congress and adds to the winner-take-all mentality in the General Assembly: redistricting reform. That means prying the drawing of districts away from the politicians who, every 10 years, cynically turn the process into an exercise in constructing ‘safe’ districts for incumbents and shrinking the minority party’s turf into insignificance.”

BROWN-HOGAN FACEOFF: Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan are scheduled to square off next month in Ocean City in their first candidates forum since becoming the major-party nominees in Maryland’s race for governor, writes John Wagner in the Post.

SEIU EXPANDS POLITICAL REACH: The Service Employees International Union is playing an expanding role in elections, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. Senate candidate Cheryl Kagan had been surprised when she opened her mailbox just a few weeks before the June 24 primary and discovered mailers smearing her opponent — ones she hadn’t paid for.

ANTI-SMOKING VICTORIES: An anti-smoking group says victories in Maryland’s primary election have improved the odds that an increase in the tobacco tax will become a reality in 2015, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

ULMAN DONATES CONTRIBUTIONS: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman wanted to give back $34,000 in campaign contributions he received from insurance executive Jeffrey Cohen, who was indicted last month on federal fraud charges. Except he didn’t want the money to end up back in Cohen’s coffers. Ulman instead sought — and received — permission from the state Board of Elections to allow his campaign to give the money to charity, rather than return it to Cohen, reports Justin Fenton for the Sun.

NAACP TO HOLD CONVENTION IN BALTIMORE: The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, has announced it will hold its annual national convention in Baltimore in 2016, Jonathan Pitts reports in the Sun.

KITTLEMAN HITS AIRWAVES EARLY: In the race for Howard County executive, one campaign is taking its message to the airwaves — a bit earlier than expected, reports Amanda Yeager for the Sun. State Sen. Allan Kittleman, the Republican county executive candidate, Tuesday launched a television advertising campaign targeted at Democrats and independent voters.

LEOPOLD-RELATED LAWSUIT: A federal judge has reserved a trial date in a lawsuit against Anne Arundel County by an aide to former County Executive John Leopold who claims she was wrongfully terminated from her job, Rema Rahman reports in the Annapolis Capital.

PG TO EXTEND TERM LIMITS TO THREE: In a marathon meeting, the Prince George’s County Council voted Wednesday to place a proposal on the November ballot that would allow elected officials to serve three terms instead of two; adopted a community benefit agreement with the MGM casino; and supported increased greenery in the county by requiring more trees to be planted, writes Arelis Hernández for the Post.