State Roundup, March 2, 2011

GAY MARRIAGE IN PERIL: Prospects for gay marriage in Maryland are in jeopardy after several delegates in a key House committee said yesterday that they are no longer certain they support it, reports Julie Bykowicz for the Sun.

In his Second Opinion column, Andy Green chastises Del. Jill Carter Conway for her refusal to vote on the gay marriage bill – which she co-sponsored – until she got her way on two other pieces of legislation.

House Speaker Michael Busch met with the two lawmakers who asked for more education money, but he said he would not trade budget requests for gay marriage votes, according to an AP report in the Carroll County Times.

Some bill opponents predicted that the leaders of the Democratic-led House would still find a way to move the legislation forward, despite yesterday’s setback, John Wagner writes for the Post.

Robert Lang of WBAL-AM also reports on yesterday’s turn of events. The station also offers a slew of audio files from a number of delegates speaking about the situation.

Here’s John Rydell’s video report for WBFF-TV.

SEPTIC CURBS ON HOLD: The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley gave up yesterday — for this year at least — on his bid to restrict rural and suburban development on septic systems, agreeing to a key House leader’s call for more study of a proposal that has drawn fire from rural and suburban lawmakers and developers.

GAS TAX HIKE: Arguing that Marylanders will face a proliferation of potholes without more state money to repair local roads, three county executives and the mayor of Baltimore urged lawmakers yesterday to support a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

Members of the House of Delegates have looked to the county executives to lobby their delegations to vote for the tax increase and other funding mechanisms that could bring in another $471 million next year, the Daily Record’s Nick Sohr reports.

The Post’s Aaron Davis writes that just weeks ago, the proposal seemed to have little-to-no chance of passing the General Assembly.

But not everyone wants the hike, reports Meg Tully for the Frederick News Post. Forty trucks circled the Maryland State House and legislative office buildings for an hour yesterday to protest the potential increase in not only the state’s gasoline tax but vehicle registration fees as well.

ROSECROFT GAMES: Penn National Gaming Inc. reaffirmed yesterday that it wants to bring gambling to Rosecroft Raceway, and will work with legislators for a long-term plan in keeping the track open, reports Rachel Bernstein for the Daily Record. The gaming company settled Monday on its acquisition of Rosecroft, and has said it will create a plan to resume live racing this fall.

GOP BUDGET: For a second straight year Maryland House Republicans released their own “alternate” budget to Gov. O’Malley’s proposed spending plan, which eliminated an education formula that benefits counties with high costs of living, cut road funding for Baltimore City and trimmed or eliminated dozens of other programs, writes The Post’s Aaron Davis.

An AP story in the Daily Record reports that House Republicans also say their plan would save $174 million by basing education aid on average daily attendance.

SCHOOL FUNDING: Len Lazarick of writes that advocates for increased school funding and a key legislator overseeing education spending clashed over proposed cuts at a long hearing on the bill that will reduce many formulas for state aid.

DJS UNDERFUNDED: The governor’s proposed 2012 budget underfunds the Department of Juvenile Services by $7.2 million, according to an analysis unveiled last week, reports the Capital News Service’s Holly Nunn in

FARM LAND PRESERVATION: First-term Republican Del. Kathy Afzali had little hope that her bill would get much attention. The bill seeks to make it easier for farmers to pass down land through generations by decreasing the estate tax burden on the owner’s death. But now she has Gov. O’Malley ready to testify for the bill, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

WINE SHIPPING: Editorial writers for the Salisbury Daily Times urge state legislators to allow wine by mail.

NEGRO MTN: The Frederick News Post editorial board urges lawmakers to keep the name of “Negro Mountain” since it “arouses curiosity and invites investigation.”

PENSION SYSTEM: Megan Poinski of writes that analysts, top staff and members of the state pension system board said yesterday that for its survival, the system needs to be completely funded sooner.

NO SHUTDOWN, YET: Marylanders worried about their federal jobs can breathe a sigh of relief – for now at least. House and Senate leaders last night agreed to a two-week funding extension that also includes $4 billion in spending cuts, Karen Tumulty and Ed O’Keefe report for the Post.

OYSTER GROWTH: Maryland’s two U.S. senators are asking the Army Corps of Engineers to streamline the oyster aquaculture permitting process, the AP reports at WJZ-TV.

LIQUOR BOARD FIGHT: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Worcester County Liquor Control Board is demanding that the state return a $16,000 fine it paid in December to head off a more public punishment for violations of the state’s alcohol sales laws.

COST CUTTING IN MOCO: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is recommending that some steps be taken this year to cut costs by making government operate more efficiently, writes Erin Cunningham for the Gazette.

BAG FEE: Cunningham is also reporting that Leggett is proposing a 5-cents per bag fee to use paper and plastic bags at county grocery stores.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Funeral arrangements are set for former Mayor and Alderman John Chambers Jr., according to the Annapolis Capital.

The Annapolis Capital opines that Chambers’ legacy is more than the two months he spent as Annapolis’ first and only African-American mayor. His life was devoted to public service, community and family.

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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