State Roundup, March 3, 2011

GAY MARRIAGE: A day after skipping a committee vote on same-sex marriage, two delegates said yesterday that they are prepared to register their positions on the issue. But, reports Julie Bykowicz for the Sun, the House Judiciary Committee had no immediate plans to schedule a new vote.

The delegates – Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s and Jill Carter of Baltimore – told reporters yesterday that they are now prepared to vote, but Alston would not say whether she still supports the legislation, writes John Wagner for the Post.

The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr writes the future of the measure remains murky.

John Rydell for WBFF-TV also reports on the situation.

WIND TAX: Gov. Martin O’Malley will ask lawmakers today to support a proposal to raise almost every state resident’s electric bill for the next 20 years to underwrite a plan for Maryland to generate some of the nation’s first offshore wind power, Aaron Davis and Steve Mufson report for the Post.

SEPTIC CURBS: Saying that pollution from farms, sewage plants and urban areas is being addressed, but septic system pollution is not, O’Malley intends to continue his push to curb septic systems in the state, writes Pamela Wood in the Annapolis Capital.

But Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that the proposal will be replaced by a broad study of environmental-protection issues, in effect killing the proposal for this year.

The editorial board for the Frederick News Post wonders if the septic legislation could be improved up on and made more universally acceptable.

WINE SHIPPING: The state’s powerful alcoholic beverage lobby apparently is backing amendments to wine shipping legislation that would prevent the shipments if a wine is already available in the state. In effect, it would prevent a winery on the Eastern Shore from mailing vino to a customer in Western Maryland, Scott Graham reports for the BBJ.

DRINK TAX: Frederick County breweries are expected to testify in Annapolis today about the effect they think a proposed liquor tax increase will have on their business, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post. Meanwhile, Tully writes, families of developmentally disabled people plan to testify in support of the bill.

POACHING LAWS: According to a 5-year federal investigation, more than 1 million pounds of rock fish were taken illegally out of the Chesapeake Bay, and that’s why the Department of Natural Resources says it needs more and stricter laws to combat poaching, reports Don Harrison of WMAR-TV.

ABORTION: Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun that abortion opponents are seeking tighter controls over clinics that offer the procedure so that they would be regulated as surgical centers.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Advocates for domestic violence victims will testify before state legislators today to establish a crime of domestic violence separate from other assaults, a move that would also include mandatory sentences for repeat offenders, the Gazette’s Andrea Noble reports.

SINGLE-PAYER: Three Howard County delegates are co-sponsoring legislation in this year’s General Assembly that seeks to bring single-payer health care to the Free State, reports Larry Carson for the Sun.

POT RX: In an op-ed piece for the Sun, polio survivor Barry Considine writes that Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, head of the state health department, brought an FDA mindset in calling for more study of medical marijuana. But the time for study, Considine says, is over for those patients who need relief.

CANCER PROBE: A sponsor of legislation to make the state’s health department measure environmental causes of cancer says he is annoyed by the department’s response and believes it is not taking the bill seriously enough, Katherine Heerbrandt reports for the Gazette.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: The Senate debate over whether people should be able to read text messages while driving escalated yesterday into a discussion of distracted driving of all types and what drivers can do in emergencies, reports Megan Poinski of

MOTOR VOTER: Although voter registration in Maryland is a disaster, and the state faces the prospect of a federal lawsuit and paying big legal fees, writes John Tanner in a Sun opinion piece, it can fix the problem in a way that avoids litigation — and saves money.

TEMP LAWMAKER: State Sen. J.B. Jennings, a member of Maryland’s Air National Guard, is seeking legislation to allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement for a member of the legislature called up for active duty in the armed services. The move requires both a constitutional amendment and a bill to implement it, writes Len Lazarick of

USM-HAGERSTOWN: A state subcommittee yesterday didn’t alter next year’s proposed $1.96 million budget for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown — a sign that another campus funding battle seems unlikely this year. Andrew Schotz reports the story for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

MARC SERVICE: A Montgomery County citizens group is advocating all-day, two-way train service, asking MARC riders to contact their state legislators about using some of the state’s gasoline tax money for train improvements, Stephanie Mlot reports for the Frederick News Post.

WICOMICO LICENSING: State Sen. Richard Colburn says Wicomico County’s alcohol laws must be tweaked in order to attract the big fish that got away: Evolution Craft Brewing Co., which hoped to move to Salisbury, writes Greg Latshaw for the Salisbury Daily Times. He introduced legislation that would increase the number of alcohol licenses to allow a pub-brewery or microbrewery.

PANHANDLING BAN: Montgomery County’s delegation in Annapolis is expected to decide tomorrow whether to introduce legislation that would allow the county to ban panhandling or issue permits for the practice, the Gazette’s Erin Cunningham writes.

UNION INFLUENCE: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland writes that public sector unions are a powerful special interest and exert great influence, if not control over Maryland Democrats.

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:


  1. Miller Plante

    To have the best chance at Passing the New 2011 EPA Drain Field and Nitrate Level Inspections; which are happening across the Country with little as 2 weeks notice; Use the All-Natural “Septic-Helper 2000” and the Phosphate and Nitrate Free “Enza Washer Balls”. The Septic System Treatment has the natural bacteria and enzymes that liquefy the waste in the tank AND out in the drain field.

    The New 2011 EPA mandates say that even a wet spot in your drain field or elevated Nitrate levels could require replacement of your entire system for $10,000 to $30,000 or move out of your home or business.

    UN Agenda 21 –
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    EPA TMDL (Nitrate Limits) –
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  2. Karlpfrommer

    WIND TAX: This is outrageous. Here’s another boondoggle that rival’s Casper Taylor’s Rocky Gap State Park and Convention Center in absurdity. This wind power will project will never pay for itself. There are too many cost competitive sources of power generation.

    Just like his proposed new business start up fund, O’Malley wants to gamble our future revenues to reward his friends today. An energy surtax will send business and industry somewhere else where energy costs are competitive. They would be right.

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