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Published on August 19th, 2014 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, August 19, 2014

FRACKING REPORT: Maryland’s latest report on the impact of proposed natural gas exploration in the western part of the state said drilling could pose a threat to air quality and workers in a region that is ecologically pristine. But the report, presented to a state commission Monday, said the process called hydraulic fracturing would pose little threat of earthquakes, which were triggered recently in central Oklahoma by gas-drilling operations, according to researchers, and are of concern to environmentalists, reports Darryl Fears for the Post.

LET THE NAVY DECIDE: The editorial board for the Sun is urging U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski to back away from her opposition to the Pax River wind energy project and let the Navy come to its own conclusions about the project without political interference.

WA CO LEADS IN SOLAR: Mostly thanks to a massive solar farm placed on state prison lands south of Hagerstown, Washington County currently leads all Maryland counties in solar-energy production capacity with 33.8 megawatts, reports C.J. Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Maryland Energy Administration officials said the county’s solar capacity represents about 18% of the state’s total 184-megawatt capacity as of Aug. 4.

FREDERICK POLICE ARMS: Frederick County law enforcement agencies have received a number of weapons and at least one armored vehicle from a free Department of Defense program in the past several years, Paige Jones reports for the Frederick News Post. This is the same program that provided local law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, Mo., with military equipment recently used against protesters after an unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by police.

  • Way back in 1990, Congress authorized the military to send surplus equipment to local police agencies. According to a recent Associated Press story, the original intent was to help in the so-called war on drugs. But, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post, it seems that in some instances police have gone overboard in their use of this equipment, which can include everything from body armor and night vision goggles to armored personnel carriers and Humvees.

JOB CUTS SOAR: Maryland’s unemployment rate shot up in July when employers cut 9,000 jobs — one of the largest losses in the country, Jamie Smith Hopkins reports for the Sun. The estimate from the U.S. Department of Labor suggests a slowdown in Maryland’s economy, which has a high share of federal employment and contracting and has been buffeted by belt tightening in Washington.

POLITICAL HYPOCRISIES: Opinion-maker Blair Lee highlights some political hypocrisies and realities in his latest column for the Gazette, including the difference between authority-line violators Julius Henson and Brian Bailey.

GUN WARS PART 1: In Part 1 of a series on gun rights and gun control by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, student-reporters write that 20 months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., some would say little has changed when it comes to guns in America. Others would say everything has. Portions of the series will appear in MarylandReporter.com.

NORDSTROM SUBSIDIARY MUST PAY: A Nordstrom subsidiary can’t use its own error to avoid a Maryland tax bill of more than $2 million, the state’s highest court has held, writes Barbara Grzincic for the Daily Record.  The subsidiary, one of several Nordstrom Inc. created to minimize its tax obligations in the mid-1990s, said it erred in declaring deferred income for 2002 and 2003. It argued that, under Maryland law, it should have filed a separate Maryland tax return for fiscal 1999 and declared the entire amount as a gain at that time.

BEACH BUMMED: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that for all the sun, the surf, the booze and the good beach vibrations, a pall also hung over this year’s MACo conference. And while U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin tried to be upbeat, that pall was coming directly from a dysfunctional Congress.

HARRIS SEEKS GOP POST: Rep. Andy Harris hopes to lead the Republican Study Committee, a large coalition of conservative House members that aims to influence economic and social policy within the party, Nicole Gaudiano and Mary Troyan report in the Salisbury Daily Times.

WYPR’S UNION FUTURE? As a daily radio show host and Baltimore Sun columnist, it’s Dan Rodricks’ job to have an opinion on almost every subject that’s in the news. Thus far, he has been silent on one of the hottest issues in his own workplace — a union drive at Baltimore City’s public radio station WYPR, reports Bruce Vail for In These Times. That’s a reflection of the organizing strategy of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the union attempting to organize 20 to 30 hosts, reporters, producers, analysts and new media professionals at the station.

HOGAN’S INTERESTING HIRE: The Maryland Republican Party, as part of its effort to promote the gubernatorial bid of Larry Hogan, has hired a fundraiser who was fired from the national party in 2010 for authorizing payment for a gathering of young donors at a bondage-themed club, writes John Wagner in the Post. Allison Meyers will work to raise money for the Hogan Victory Fund, executive director Joe Cluster said Monday.

HOGAN’S BUCKS: Though he is relying on public funds for the general election, Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan has continued to raise money, including at an event Friday in Ocean City, to retire debt incurred during the primary, reports John Wagner for the Post. Shortly after his June 24 victory, Hogan’s campaign reported having $742,338 in outstanding loans and unpaid bills but only $128,004 in the bank. The largest chunk of the debt was $500,000 in loans that Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, made to his campaign between February and May.

MO CO DEMS: As the new chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Kevin Walling said he plans to take the party back to basics focusing on engaging members, fundraising and supporting party nominees in the Nov. 4 general election, writes Kate Alexander for the Gazette.

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