State Roundup Feb. 26, 2010

Today we have more coverage of the aftermath of the Attorney General Doug Gansler’s same-sex marriage opinion, the University of Maryland asked one of its deans to give back, literally. And we have some perspective on the Republican budget proposals.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Hayley Peterson at The Washington Examiner has reaction from lawmakers on Attorney General Doug Gansler’s opinion this week that Maryland can recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Tara Bahrampour at The Washington Post has reaction from same-sex couples and gay rights advocates in the state.

Senate President Mike Miller says the gay marriage opinion isn’t a big deal because the matter is likely to be ultimately decided in court, John Wagner writes for the Post. Comptroller Peter Franchot is trying to figure out how same-sex couples fit into the state tax code.

Liam Farrell looks at how Gansler’s opinion fits into the larger picture of the gay marriage debate in Maryland. Democrats in more conservative districts are concerned about the election year implications of the opinion. Sean Sedam has the story for The Gazette.

Jeff Abell with Fox 45 has a video report on Del. Don Dwyer’s threats to start the process of impeaching Gansler.

COMBINED REPORTING: A proposal creating a combined reporting corporate tax structure in Maryland will likely have to wait until 2011, Nicholas Sohr writes in The Daily Record. Business leaders and lawmakers want to wait until a commission on business tax reform finishes their report at the end of this year before acting, Erich Wagner reports for

DEAN COMPENSATION: University system officials have asked the former dean of the University of Maryland School of Law to return $60,000 in unauthorized compensation and have referred $410,000 in questionable payments to the attorney general’s office, Childs Walker reports in The Baltimore Sun. Marcus Moore in The Gazette reports that the officials expect Rothenberg will return the money. John Rydell has video for Fox 45.

GUBERNATORIAL RADIO WAR: John Wagner ponders the future of WBAL and “The Kendel and Bob Show” once the former governor (probably) announces that he wants to run for governor again. WBAL programmers don’t want to lose the show, and are kicking around the idea of offering Martin O’Malley and his wife a show.

STAFF TRIPS: Sen. George Della criticized the staff of the state’s pension system for spending $173,000 over the past year on travel, Annie Linskey writes in The Sun. He called the 61 trips to destinations like Hong Kong, Paris and Frankfurt “bureaucracy gone wild.”

REPUBLICAN BUDGET: Can a Republican vote for the budget without agreeing with its overall composition, in order to keep the state in business? There’s strong disagreement, Alan Brody writes in The Gazette, especially in this election year. Metropolitan areas of the state would be hit hardest by proposed Republican budget cuts, Sean Sedam and Doug Tallman write for The Gazette. And counties are complaining that some of the proposals simply shift the burden in their direction.

INTERNET HARASSMENT: Hagerstown Democrat John Donoghue has admitted to using a colleague’s computer to send out a harassing message about a local man, Erin Cunningham writes for The Gazette. The matter has come before the legislative ethics committee, which decided not to act, and could be the subject of a civil suit.

MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT: The General Assembly is likely to vote to eliminate $23 million in penalties for Montgomery County’s failure to maintain its level of school funding from last year. Marcus Moore has the story for The Gazette. The Maryland Association of Counties’ Conduit Street blog has a roundup of all of the bills on “maintenance of effort” rules for education.

SMUGGLING SMOKES?: House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell says he’s not contributing to the state’s tobacco tax revenue anymore, having quit smoking almost two years ago, Sean Sedam writes for The Gazette. But one senator asks, is it because O’Donnell’s too far from the Virginia line to drive down and get cheap smokes?

BPA BAN: The Senate passed a bill banning the chemical bisphenol-A from baby bottles and cups, Meredith Cohn writes in The Sun. Consumer groups and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have voiced concerns over the chemical’s safety. Brian Witte has more for the Associated Press.

GAMBLING: Kevin James Shay at the Gazette doesn’t find many strong opinions as he interviews store owners about the proposed slots casino at Arundel Mills mall. Barry Rascovar at The Gazette writes in his weekly column that O’Malley is vulnerable on gambling, because he hasn’t shown strong leadership on slots or fledgling proposals to expand table games.

BOND SALE: The state sold $595 million in bonds Wednesday, including $400 million whose interest is subsidized by the federal stimulus package, Scott Dance writes in the Baltimore Business Journal. Officials said the state’s Triple-A bond rating helps it reduce the cost of borrowing money.

IGNITION LOCKS: Drunk driving opponents went head to head with the alcohol industry Thursday over a bill that would require convicted drunk drivers to install devices that prevent their cars from starting if they’ve been drinking, Michael Dresser writes in The Sun. Advocates argued that the measure would reduce the number of drunk driving deaths, but opponents said the measure goes too far by requiring the devices for first-time offenders. Dave Collins has a video report for WBAL-TV, and Christian Schaffer reports for WMAR.

FINANCIAL LITERACY DROPPED: Alan Brody at The Gazette has a story on the politics behind the withdrawal of a bill that would add financial literacy training as a graduation requirement. Could a disagreement over where to hold a press conference have weakened the measure’s chances?

TRANSIT FUNDS: The Maryland Transit Administration received more than $16 million in federal money to improve MARC trains along with some county transit systems, The Daily Record reports.

ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING: Sean Sedam at The Gazette writes about an environmental proposal that would require new transportation proposals be justified using the state’s broader transportation plans.

POWER OUTAGES: House Majority Leader Kumar Barve wants the Public Service Commission to look into power outages that hit his home Montgomery County during the recent snow, Doug Tallman and Margie Hyslop write for The Gazette.

TAX EQUITY: Frederick County municipal leaders say they need a mandatory system for tax equity payments, Meg Tully reports in The Frederick News-Post. Cities and towns are in favor of a bill forcing the county government to give them at least $7.4 million annually for duplication of services.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS: Sen. Don Munson is pushing for a bill that would create a state correctional officers’ Bill of Rights, Erin Julius writes in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail. The bill was sparked by a correctional officer who was fired over allegations of abuse, only to be cleared of the charges.

PAROLE DECISION: A bill introduced by Del. Curt Anderson and Sen. Nathaniel McFadden would take the final say in granting an inmate serving a life sentence parole away from the governor, Erin Julius reports in The Herald-Mail. The current and two previous governors have not approved the release of any inmate serving such a sentence.

HEALTH CARE: Glynis Kazanjian in The Montgomery Sentinel describes the moves by Maryland’s congressional Democrats to push through their party’s version of health care legislation, including the so-called “public option” of government-run insurance.

DISABLED SERVICES: Hundreds of advocates for the developmentally disabled marched on Annapolis, pushing for bills that would shorten the waiting lists for service, Dave Collins reports for WBAL-TV.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: “Fair warning, this is a real puff piece,” Alan Brody writes to open up a Gazette Reporters Notebook on today’s medical marijuana hearing. He points out that the meeting is in the Joint Hearing Room,  that advocates are high on its chances, and they insist there’s only “tokin’” opposition. The man just couldn’t help himself.

CITY ROADS: The state’s longstanding practice of paying more for Baltimore City roads — then letting the city government handle its own paving — is coming under increasing scrutiny this year as other jurisdictions struggle with reduced state highway aid, Andy Rosen reports for

EDITOR ON AIR: Editor and Publisher Len Lazarick appeared on WNAV’s Capital Caucus with Kenny Burns, who reposts the audio on his Maryland Politics Today blog.

TERROR TRIALS: State Republican leaders are urging Gov. Martin O’Malley to lobby to remove Maryland from the federal government’s list of possible places to hold trials of suspected terrorists, Nicholas Sohr reports in his Eye on Annapolis blog. Julie Bykowicz takes on the story on The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog.

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