August 13, 2014

State Roundup, August 13, 2014

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ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN UPHELD: Ian Duncan of the Sun is reporting that a federal judge on Tuesday upheld Maryland’s new ban on assault rifles and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, handing at least a temporary victory to state officials who say the measures could ward off mass shootings. A collection of gun owners, stores and industry groups had sued the state, saying the bans violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

SCHOOL FINANCING: A state-commissioned study on how school systems are financed could lead to increased funding, especially for jurisdictions that have seen declining enrollment over the last decade, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Education advocates, unions and representatives of county governments were briefed Tuesday on the study that could lead to changes and increased funding for what has become known as the Thornton education funding formula.

ANSWERS SOUGHT ON AIDING IMMIGRANT KIDS: Republican members of the House of Delegates are asking Gov. Martin O’Malley how Maryland will deal with the children coming to the state in the wave of unaccompanied minors from Central America entering the United States illegally, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

‘SINKHOLE STATE:’ Maryland has some hefty bills to pay in the near future, and not enough money to pay them, writes Mark Newgent for Red Maryland. According to an analysis of the state’s 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and actuarial reports, in the Financial State of States by Truth in Accounting, Maryland has $45.3 billion in bills due, yet only has $15.9 billion available to pay them, earning the designation “Sinkhole State.”

LNG ZONING EXEMPTION STRUCK: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that an ordinance exempting the proposed Cove Point Liquid Natural Gas export facility from Calvert County zoning regulations has been struck down by a judge in Calvert County Circuit Court. The Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council Inc. filed suit against the Calvert County Commissioners in November, just one day after the commissioners voted to approve an amendment that exempted liquid natural gas import or export facilities from local zoning laws.

HOGAN USES RAIN TO ATTACK BROWN: On Tuesday evening, after a day that brought flash flooding around Maryland and broke rainfall records at BWI, the Hogan campaign released a statement charging that the downpour underscored the O’Malley-Brown administration’s failure to protect the Chesapeake Bay from “catastrophic releases of polluted sediment from the long-neglected control reservoirs, or ponds, above the Conowingo Dam,” reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

HOGAN PROPOSES TAX FREE PENSIONS: Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan was to voice his support Tuesday for eliminating the state income tax on pensions of law enforcement officers, reports John Wagner of the Post. Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, was set to make the announcement during an appearance before the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, according to aides.

AIDE PAID BY CHANGE MARYLAND: Larry Hogan’s campaign manager was paid more than $35,000 by Change Maryland, the watchdog organization founded by Hogan, in the months leading up to his announcement for governor, the Post reports. The payments, included in information that Change Maryland provided to the Internal Revenue Service, are likely to provide further ammunition for Hogan critics, who contend that he improperly used his organization to launch his bid for governor this year.

VOTER TURNOUT: David Moon of Maryland Juice returns to blogging for a short time with this analysis of voter turnout, saying that turnout wasn’t as dim during the primary as some believe and that not all voters are created equally.

GUNS, POT & HARRIS’S ODD LOGIC: Tom Zirpoli of the Carroll County Times opines that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland recently voted to delete laws that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia. According to Harris, marijuana could be harmful to the children. At the same time, Harris voted to delete gun control laws in the District. But here are the facts: The number of children killed from guns in America in 2012 was about 2,700. The number of children killed from marijuana in 2012 was zero.

OBAMA’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: The White House responded Monday to complaints from journalism organizations about a lack of transparency and access to sources in the Obama administration, citing a long list of increased disclosures, according to MarylandReporter.com. But the head of the Society of Professional Journalists, the lead organization among 38 media groups who sent a complaint letter in July, called the return letter from Obama press secretary Josh Earnest “typical spin and response through non-response.”

PROBE INTO DEM CHAPTER VOTES: A dispute between the Prince George’s County Democratic committee and state party leaders has triggered a broad inquiry into the way chapters across Maryland select their officers, reports Arelis Hernandez for the Post. The brouhaha centers on whether the committee chair, vice chair and other officers can be elected by secret ballot — a practice long in place in Prince George’s and many other counties, according to copies of bylaws dating to the 1990s, but forbidden by Democratic National Committee rules for even longer.

CARROLL COMMISSIONERS AT MACO: Carroll County taxpayers will be footing the bill for four county commissioners to attend all or a portion of a four-day conference in Ocean City this week, including two commissioners who will be out of office in December, Christian Alexandersen is reporting for the Carroll County Times.

CONSERVATION VOTERS BACK IN AA COUNCIL RACES: Rema Rahman of the Annapolis Capital writes that the Maryand League of Conservation Voters announced Tuesday it has rounded out its endorsement list of Anne Arundel County Council candidates: District 1 Democratic candidate Pete Smith, District 2 Republican incumbent John Grasso, District 4 Democratic candidate Andrew Pruski and District 5 Democratic candidate Patrick Armstrong.

FLOOD AID FOR CLEAR SPRING: Robert Summers, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, visited Clear Spring Tuesday to assess the damage caused by the June 12 flooding, while promising to help the community, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Summers said that his office would work with state agencies to try and steer more money to the community to stabilize the stream that runs through the downtown and help repair some of the damage caused by the flash flooding.

CECIL ANIMAL CONTROL PLAN: Cecil County Executive Tari Moore announced on Tuesday that she is taking immediate steps toward creating a new Animal Care and Control plan that better serves the county’s needs.

KAMENETZ-DANCE CLASH: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Liz Bowie of the Baltimore Sun talk about Kevin Kamenetz’ rejection of the Baltimore County school system’s plan for expansion, a rare step for a county executive.

OUSTED FROM OFFICE, NOT JOB: Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports that the mayor of tiny Seat Pleasant (population 4,500) was ordered to vacate his city hall office late Monday after four of seven City Council members voted to punish him for allegedly berating and insulting city employees. The mayor said he will pitch a tent outside city hall to receive constituents.

FORMER CANDIDATE SAVES CHILD: Cape St. Claire resident Jamie Falcon ran a campaign for state delegate and lost in one of the most contested primary races this spring. But, writes Elisha Sauers for the Annapolis Capital, even after a tense campaign, the Anne Arundel County Republican had never been as nervous as he was Friday when a baby’s life was in his hands.