State Roundup June 16, 2010

A YouTube video is at the heart of a challenge to the state’s wiretap laws; the way is paved to challenge reforms to the Colonial era ground rent laws. Politics and business mix during a four-day educational retreat. Plus Annapolis theft, speed cameras, and DBED ads.

YOUTUBE TEST CASE: A Baltimore motorcyclist who wore a video camera on his helmet is unwittingly testing the state’s wiretap laws after he posted on his videotape recording, complete with audio, of a state trooper pulling him over, Annys Shin reports in the Washington Post.

LEGISLATIVE LEADERS: More than 30 House speakers from across the country will be given Maryland’s royal treatment, during a four-day educational retreat that is being funded by several dozen national and regional companies. Their reps will get a chance to attend many of the sessions and mingle with powerful lawmakers in more relaxed settings, writes John Wagner in the Post.

MTA RULES: The state is proposing to relax its rules on political activity at transit stations, a move designed to help settle a three-year legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union and ACORN that stemmed from the 2006 campaign, reports Andy Rosen in

DBED AD CAMPAIGN: Liz Farmer reports in the Daily Record that the state Department of Business and Economic Development has launched its first new advertising campaign in more than a decade, with a budget less than a third of what it was in 1999.

WHO’S NOT ON? Bryan Sears writes for Patuxent Publishing that the later-than-promised election endorsements of Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association are more interesting because of who didn’t make the list.

GROUND RENT: An Anne Arundel County judge has certified holders of ground leases as a class of plaintiffs in the legal challenge to the 2007 ground rent reform laws, opening up the possibility that thousands of ground lease owners could seek several hundred million dollars from the state if they win their case, writes Andrea Siegel in the Sun.

SPEED CAMERAS: The State Highway Administration released a tally of the state’s camera-generated tickets under its SafeZone project as of the end of May: 34,600. If every $40 ticket is collected, that would generate almost $1.4 million  since last fall, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

MAYOR IN DARK: Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen was kept in the dark for seven days after his finance director discovered the theft from a vault of $154,000 in checks and cash payments to the city. While the finance director called the police and the outgoing city administrator, no one bothered to tell the mayor, Nicole Fuller reports in the Sun.

BMA RENOVATION: Baltimore Museum of Art leaders unveiled plans to complete its $24 million renovation in time for the institution’s 100th anniversary in 2014. The three-year project will require some galleries to be closed in phases starting early next year, reports Ed Gunts in the Sun.

BP PROBE PANEL: Marylander Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, strong ties to New Orleans helped lead to his appointment to President Obama’s commission to probe the BP oil disaster in the Gulf significant, according to Timothy Wheeler in the Sun.

TAX HIKE OR NOT: As the tax issue comes to a head for the Baltimore City Council, Sun editorial writers ponder the costs and the benefits of choosing which taxes to raise.

CANCER CENTER DONOR: Meredith Cohn writes in the Sun that the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has received the largest donation for pancreas cancer research and patient care in its history. The award came from the founder a Rockville mutual fund investment company who died of the disease.

KAGAN’S SMART HQ: Giving a nod to the Smart-Growth development she’s promoting in her year-old campaign, District 17 Senate candidate Cheryl Kagan opened her headquarters within walking distance of the center of Rockville, so blogs Adam Pagnucco in Maryland Politics Watch.

JOURNALISM AWARDS: The Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored Tuesday night at its Dateline Awards banquet, giving the online news organization first and second place in its new “blog” category.

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