State Roundup, March 9, 2011

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Yesterday, six gay state delegates sent a letter to their colleagues urging them to vote for the same-sex marriage proposal, blogs Julie Bykowicz for the Sun. Debate on the bill is set to begin in the House of Delegates today.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen ministers from churches in Prince George’s County were among religious leaders lobbying Maryland lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to defeat same-sex marriage legislation, which they say violates God’s law. Avis Thomas-Lester and Hamil Harris report the story for the Post.

View one pastor speaking about the reasons they are against gay marriage as well an interview with Del. Veronica Turner, who talks about her continuing efforts to decide how she will vote on the measure.

Del. John Donoghue offered an amendment yesterday on the House floor that temporarily halted debate on the bill, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. The amendment would allow religious-based groups that provide adoption, foster care or social services to withhold services if circumstances “would violate the entity’s religious beliefs.”

The Daily Record runs an AP story that recaps the fight over the legislation in the House of Delegates, which had been expected to pass the bill as easily as the Senate had.

FERTILIZER CONTROLS: The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler writes that the struggle to save the Chesapeake Bay is hitting home, quite literally, as lawmakers in Annapolis eye new regulation of lawn fertilizer — and how and when it can be applied.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: The push in the General Assembly to use more renewable energy  is one of the green themes in Annapolis this year, and the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday heard mixed testimony on six bills to enhance the state’s renewable energy policy, including trash talk from the chairman, reports Megan Poinski for

FACEBOOK PRIVACY: Employers won’t be able to require access to job applicants’ or employees’ Facebook and other social media accounts if a bill introduced this week gets approved by state lawmakers, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

IMMIGRANT TUITION: Saying it makes economic sense, the editorial board for the Daily Record urges the General Assembly to vote in favor of providing in-state college tuition rates for qualified children of both documented and undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Victor Ramirez, a Frostburg State University graduate and the lead sponsor of the bill, said, “We want the strongest and most educated work force as possible.” Matthew Bieniek reports the story for the Cumberland Times-News.

LIVING WAGE: While Maryland considers raising the minimum wage, Marta Mossburg opines in the Frederick News Post that a number of studies show that raising the minimum wage neither spurs the economy nor makes states wealthier.

Nick Sohr writes for the Daily Record that the proposal appears destined to fail this year for lack of support among key legislative leaders.

BUDGET CUT PROTEST: As many as 10,000 state teachers, labor unions and community groups are organizing a march in Annapolis next Monday to send a message to lawmakers to spare schools and pensions from budget cuts, Tim Tooten of WBAL-TV reports.

DRUG CONTRACT: A day before they were supposed to choose a company to manage Maryland’s prescription drug benefit program, officials yesterday halted consideration of the $2.3 billion contract, amid concerns about the low bidder’s past legal problems and reservations about spending the money out of state, the Sun’s Annie Linskey writes.

The item was withdrawn from the agenda of the Board of Public Works, which approves large state contracts and purchases, writes Scott Dance for the BBJ.

CAR-KID SMOKE: The bill to ban smoking in a car with a child, which has been stopped in committee four years running, may finally make it to the floor of the House of Delegates, writes Capital News Service’s Holly Nunn in

ILLEGAL GUNS: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the daughter of slain City Councilman Ken Harris urged state lawmakers yesterday to increase prison terms for people convicted of illegal gun possession, including a new mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months if the weapon was loaded, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

LEGAL ADS: Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that the newspaper industry clashed with government yesterday over a proposal in Annapolis to allow counties and municipalities to publish required legal notices on their own websites. Those required notices bring in much appreciated revenue to many newspapers.

INADMISSIBLE APOLOGY: Doctor and Del. Dan Morhaim has introduced a bill that says, in effect, that if a doctor says he or she is “sorry” for a medical outcome, that apology would be inadmissible in a Maryland courtroom, Steve Schuster reports for the Towson Times.

VINTAGE YEAR: Rob Deford, owner of Boordy Vineyards, is hoping that 2011 proves to be a vintage year for legislation that would allow Maryland wineries to ship products to customers through the mail, writes Steve Schuster and Lindsey McPherson for the Towson Times.

BAG FEES: A Maryland bill is aimed at requiring stores to charge customers 5 cents for the use of plastic and paper bags. If the law passes, Maryland would become the first state to adopt a disposable bag fee, reports WBAL-TV.

HUNTING BILL: A bill adding another day for junior hunting will be up for a vote in the Maryland House of Delegates this week, writes Meg Tully for the Frederick News Post. Del. Kelly Schulz, a Frederick County Republican, proposed the bill at the request of the Frederick County Farm Bureau.

MIKULSKI HONORED: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the history of the Senate, is joining fellow Baltimorean Billie Holiday, Coretta Scott King and eight others in the 2011 class of inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Matthew Hay Brown blogs for the Sun.

TAX SCOFFLAWS: The State Comptroller’s Office has identified 25 individuals and 25 businesses that owe more than $11 million in state taxes, penalties and interest, Liz Kay reports for the Sun. The list highlights the office’s annual “Caught in the Web” list on

KIPP HEARING: A hearing scheduled for today on proposed legislation aimed at helping KIPP charter schools remain in Baltimore has been rescheduled for next week as the organization continues negotiations with the Baltimore Teachers Union about how to pay its teachers for extended school days, Erica Green writes for the Sun.

CHELTENHAM MURDER: A Prince George’s County grand jury indicted a 14-year-old as an adult on charges that he sexually assaulted and killed a teacher at the Cheltenham Youth Facility a little more than a year ago – at the age of 13, writes the Post’s Ruben Castaneda. The murder prompted the state to take a much closer look at security in youth facilities.

WIND MAKER: Maryland’s first wind turbine blade manufacturer could be running in two years, spitting out three 130-foot long turbine blades daily from a plant in Salisbury, the AP’s Tom LoBianco reports in the Annapolis Capital.

HoCo CAMERAS: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman’s push to use speed cameras might prove to be a tough sell on the five-member County Council, some of whom have expressed reluctance to install them, writes Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times.

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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