State Roundup, February 14, 2011

OBAMA VISITS PARKVILLE: If you haven’t already heard, President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit a technology magnet school in Baltimore County at 10 a.m. today to speak about new investments in education, reports

The president also is expected to begin a new Race to the Top initiative, writes Liz Bowie for the Sun.

WJZ-TV is offering full coverage of Obama’s school visit, in which he will outline his budget priorities.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE: The editorial advisory board of the Daily Record is advocating for legalizing same sex marriage as the fair and right thing to do.

And expect supporters of same sex marriage to rally in front of the State House today – Valentine’s Day – as part of a national campaign, the AP reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

OTHER BILLS HEARD: Robert Lang of WBAL-AM gives a rundown of legislation that will get hearings in Annapolis this week. Besides same sex marriage, bills covering texting while driving and in-state tuition for some illegal aliens will be discussed.

DEATH ROW LIMBO: As capital punishment foes watch repeal momentum grow, Julie Bykowicz of the Sun reports on how the death penalty moratorium leaves both the survivors of heinous crimes and those convicted for them in limbo.

Richard Vatz writes in Red Maryland about what he sees as the practical and ethical demands of instituting the death penalty in Maryland.

JUVIE ED RECORDS: A student’s court and education records could be shared by the state Department of Juvenile Services and the Department of Education under legislation pending in the General Assembly, Tina Reed reports for the Annapolis Capital.

ELECTRIC LAWS: Liz Kay of the Sun takes a close look at proposed legislation that could impact Pepco and other power companies serving Maryland when the lights go out.

ENVIRONMENTAL PUSH: Gov. Martin O’Malley is pushing a pair of bold environmental initiatives, writes Post Metro columnist Robert McCartney: One would ban traditional septic systems in major new housing developments statewide; the other would force the state’s electric utilities to sharply increase the amount of power they buy from wind turbines.

A coalition of Maryland environmental groups are backing O’Malley’s wind power plan, blogs Ann Marimow of the Post.

DOC GIFTS: The bill to ban medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers doing business in Maryland from giving gifts to health care professionals was introduced Friday in the House of Delegates, Emily Mullin reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

JUDGE PROBES: Lang also reports on a bill that would allow the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office to investigate allegations of criminal acts by judges or lawyers. Brian Frosh, chairman of a Senate committee that has held a hearing on the bill, says in an audio interview that it faces an uncertain fate in his committee. Here, citizen Greg Jerome explains his backing of the bill.

HOOK & BULLET: Mike Sawyers of the Cumberland Times News offers up another installment of “hook and bullet” legislation that affects Maryland hunters.

SEPTIC BAN: Steven Seawright of the Maryland State Builders Association writes in Center Maryland that O’Malley’s intended ban on the installation of septic systems in new residential subdivisions of at least five homes is an extreme measure that would neither clean up the Bay nor fix Maryland’s broken Smart Growth Policy.

WINE SHIPMENTS: Wine connoisseurs could get a reason to toast the General Assembly this session, but the victory could have a sour aftertaste, writes Liam Farrell for the Annapolis Capital. Disagreements remain over how broad the legislation should be. editor Len Lazarick sits down with Sen. Joan Carter Conway to discuss the wine shipping bill and gay marriage.

LIQUOR TASTINGS: Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post writes that the Frederick County delegation has approved a bill allowing local liquor stores to offer tastings for liquors such as whiskey or scotch.

DISABILITIES RALLY: More than 100 advocates for Marylanders with developmental disabilities rallied on Friday in front of the State House, imploring passing lawmakers to increase the alcohol tax and send more aid their way, blogs Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

MOODY’S RATING: Barbara Pash of writes that Moody’s is adding pension liabilities to the factors it reports publicly in rating total state debt. The new numbers showed that Maryland ranks between 13th and 17th among states with the highest debt.

DOLLARS AND CENSUS: Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports what the recent Census data can mean for Washington County, its cities and unincorporated areas when it comes to getting federal dollars.

The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times writes that the most important impacts of the Census are allocation of federal funds and legislative district changes in both federal and state representation.

FUND TRANSFER: O’Malley’s plan to transfer $100 million from a fund dedicated for building roads and bridges is drawing strong backlash, but some lawmakers say the politically charged rhetoric is unfounded, writes CNS’s David Rauf in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

MOUNTAIN NAMES: The state senator who wants new names for Negro Mountain and Polish Mountain in Western Maryland said it was former House Speaker Cas Taylor’s idea, a claim that he is disputing, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

UMS-H FUNDING: The University of Maryland System at Hagerstown could again face funding uncertainty in Annapolis, writes Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

MORE POACHED FISH: Maryland Natural Resources Police pulled in another illegal haul of rockfish on Friday – 2 more tons off Kent Island, writes Candus Thomson of the Sun. Be sure to check out the video to see how the DNR goes about catching illegal nets.

DNR has shut down the legal gill fish season following the poaching discoveries, Jesse Yeatman writes for The poaching, the DNR Fisheries chief said, “means these poachers are stealing 66 days of work from honest watermen.”

FISHY GPS: And Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that fishermen and legislators are asking how far is the state willing to go to stop oyster and rockfish poaching? This after a waterman found a tracking device on his boat recently.

O’MALLEY’S OFFICE: How someone decorates his office can say something about the officeholder, writes Liam Farrell for the Capital. So, just what kind of stuff is in the governor’s? View a slideshow by Josh McKerrow here.

SAME SEX PARENTS: Two women can now be named as mothers on birth certificates without a court order in Maryland, the Associated Press reports in the Daily Record.

LEGGETT BLASTED: A union leader says Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is intentionally squashing savings proposals so he can blame employees for another gaping hole in the budget, Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner reports. This came after the Leggett administration rejected a union proposal that its members forgo annual increases in health and pension payments for a one-time savings of up to $26 million.

BAKER’S LOT: Miranda Spivack of the Post writes that Rushern Baker didn’t even get a honeymoon period after becoming Prince George’s County executive. He had to jump into the fray with both feet.

ETHICS PROVISION PANNED: A bill in Baker’s proposed package of ethics legislation before the Maryland legislature is coming under fire from community activists who say the measure would disrupt the county’s balance of power, reports Alex Pappas for the Washington Examiner.

ULMAN COMPLAINT DISMISSED: The Howard County Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint alleging that County Executive Kenneth Ulman and County Council Chairman Calvin Ball used their political positions to have her forced out of her job as a lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, Lindsey McPherson reports for the Columbia Flier.

UNION OPTION: The Flier’s Lindsey McPherson writes that hundreds of white-collar Howard County government employees will now have the option of joining a public employees union after a majority of them voted for representation.

CURRIE TREASURER GUILTY: The former campaign treasurer to state Sen. Ulysses Currie pleaded guilty to theft of more than $100,000 last Friday in an Anne Arundel County Court, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

Prosecutors say the treasurer made more than 350 withdrawals from two ATMs about a mile from her Upper Marlboro home, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

SNOWDEN GUILTY: Carl Snowden, the civil rights director for the state attorney general’s office, was convicted Friday of driving while impaired, but the sentence remained the same as before an illegal disposition was tossed out last month, reports the Sun’s Andrea Siegel.

CHARTER CHANGE: By March, a nine-member Charter Board is to start drafting ways to change Frederick County’s form of government, the Frederick News Post’s Patti Borda reports.

REDISTRICT FIGHT: Harford County’s Democrats have hired an attorney to force Republicans to allow them on the redistricting commission, the Dagger posts from Wendy Sawyer, head of the county’s Democratic Central Committee.

CITY ED RETIREMENTS: Baltimore city school officials are encouraging up to 750 of the city’s most experienced teachers to retire by April, a move they say will help mitigate budget shortfalls and prevent potential layoffs as the system girds for an expected reduction in teaching positions next year, Erica Green reports for the Sun.

DATA MASH: Armed with data released as part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Open Baltimore initiative, participants in Civic Hack Day, mostly web developers and designers, launched into a day of hacking and mashing to see if they could come up with useful ways to analyze the data that would by helpful for the community, blogs Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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