State Roundup March 17, 2010

Today we’ve got renewed coverage of sex offender bills, slots discussion heats up as the state considers rebidding Rocky Gap and the legal battle over slots at Arundel Mills continues. And Bob Ehrlich tests out a possible campaign message.

SEX OFFENDERS: The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony on the slew of sex offender laws making their way through the General Assembly yesterday, Steve Lash writes for The Daily Record. But the state judiciary and the Office of the Public Defender opposed the legislation, arguing that the bills strip courts of discretion and could stigmatize criminals for life. Robert Lang has multimedia for WBAL Radio. Dave Collins has a video report for WBAL TV, as does Fox 45’s John Rydell.

Republicans are buying time to try to shape pending sex offender law reforms so they will more closely resemble original GOP proposals. Aaron Davis has the story on The Washington Post blog.

SLOTS: Proponents of slots in Western Maryland advocated sweetening the deal for Rocky Gap, because otherwise, nobody will want to build there, Annie Linskey writes in The Baltimore Sun. Investors want to change the tax rate on gambling revenues there and lower the required capital investment, Sen. George Edwards said. And others say that the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort would shut down by 2013 without slot machines, Hayley Peterson reports for the Washington Examiner.

And opponents of a slots casino at Arundel Mills mall are fighting back against the developer who filed suit claiming their work petitioning was done illegally, Liz Farmer reports for The Daily Record. The anti-slots groups filed motions to intervene in the lawsuit, arguing that Cordish Co. sued to deter citizens from exercising their political rights. Ryan Sharrow has the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

BOOZE: There are 68 bills relating to minute changes in alcohol regulation making their way through the General Assembly this year, Erich Wagner reports for Most only affect one jurisdiction, and very few people understand the complicated set of liquor laws.

TABLE GAMES: Sen. Catherine Pugh wants to bring table games to Maryland to help the state’s tourism industry, the Associated Press reports. She pushed for a Senate panel to have a public vote on whether to allow expanded gambling, which includes craps, poker and the like.

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: Annie Linskey with The Sun writes for the paper’s politics blog that House Judiciary Committee chairman may have shown his hand in favor of continuing judicial elections during a debate on sex offender legislation.

TRAFFIC COURT: A bill that would take away the automatic day in court for traffic violators has passed the Senate, Michael Dresser reports in his Getting There blog for The Sun. Accused offenders would have to request a hearing if the bill passes.

BOAST: A proposal to grant tax credits for corporate donations to private schools survived back-to-back attempts to weaken it in the Senate and is expected to come up for a final vote in that chamber this week, Nick DiMarco writes for

JOBS JOBS JOBS: House Republicans are expected to try to add provisions to a job creation tax credit proposal by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Nick Sohr writes in his Eye on Annapolis Blog for The Daily Record. He writes that GOP delegates are concerned that the credit may not reach enough small businesses.

EHRLICH: Could-be gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich began shaping a potential campaign message in an address before the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, Julie Bykowicz reports for The Sun. Ehrlich said that the state has much to offer, but has a problem in the General Assembly. And the Associated Press reports that Ehrlich said supporters are urging him to run for U.S. Senate instead of governor. John Wagner has the story for the Post.

GREEN: Maryland would have to look for environmentally-friendly products when making state purchasing decisions, under a bill backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, but opponents are concerned the measure could cost the state hundreds of factory jobs, Nick DiMarco reports for

EDUCATION SPENDING: A bill that would change the way counties can apply for waivers of their education spending requirement is moving through the House, the Maryland Association of Counties writes on its Conduit Street blog. Counties have been seeking to reform the “maintenance of effort” rules that require counties to spend as much on education each year as they did the previous year.

CLOSED CAPTIONING: Deaf residents testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of a bill requiring candidates to provide closed captioning for television and web campaign ads, Meg Tully writes in the Frederick News-Post. The bill’s sponsor, Del. Joseph Bartlett, said he hasn’t used closed captioning on his campaign ads, but said he would do so from now on.

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