State Roundup, March 14, 2011

GAY MARRIAGE OUT, FOR NOW: Opponents of same-sex marriage say the House’s decision not to vote on the bill Friday seals its fate through the rest of lawmakers’ four-year terms. Julie Bykowicz and Annie Linskey of the Sun write opponents predict that the move will have an impact on lawmakers in other states now considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The debate pitted civil rights-era activists against a handful of openly gay lawmakers, an odd confrontation for delegates traditionally aligned on liberal causes, reports Brian Hughes for the Washington Examiner.

Without enough supporters in the House of Delegates to guarantee its passage on Friday, the issue will not be picked up again in 2011, writes Megan Poinski for

Supporters of same-sex marriage said they were disappointed but not discouraged by the failure of the historic legislation to win approval in the House. Their optimism stems from the Senate, where — for the first time — a chamber of the Maryland General Assembly voted to permit gay and lesbian couples to lawfully wed, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.

Gay couples in Maryland are pondering their next steps toward marriage, Carol Morello writes for the Post.

From Equality Maryland to religious organizations, John Wagner gets reaction about the death of the bill.

Casey Prather of shot a series of photos showing a Pennsylvania group, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, protesting same-sex marriage at the intersection of Timonium and York roads in Baltimore County.

Del. Kathy Szeliga, writing in the Dagger, says, “I am grateful that gay marriage did not pass today and summarily change thousands of years of human history and tradition in one afternoon.”

DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: The fight over the death penalty is back, reports Adam May for WJZ-TV. Lawmakers will hear testimony on a bill to get rid of capital punishment in Maryland. Now there’s strong and surprising words on the controversial issue.

PAROLE AUTHORITY: The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz reports that while Gov. Martin O’Malley has the authority to release a convict serving a life sentence, he has never used it. Now, the House has OK’d legislation that would free a lifer if the state parole panel recommends it and the governor doesn’t file an objection.

HEALTH REFORM: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas Mac Middleton sits down with Len Lazarick of to talk about  why Maryland is implementing health care reform so quickly.

SNACK TAX: A group of Maryland lawmakers has proposed taxing certain snack foods to help fund the Maryland Combating Childhood Obesity Grant Program, which would provide money for organizations fighting obesity, keeping children active and teaching them about healthy eating, writes the appropriately named Allison Eatough for

SHIELDING LIQUOR LOBBY: The editorial board for the Sun writes that the alcohol lobby can debate the exact cost of a tax increase in terms of the price of a beer at the bar or of jobs in a fragile economy. But as Maryland apportions the pain caused by the recession, lawmakers need to ask whether they want to continue a tradition of shielding this industry at the expense of health care, education, public safety or any of the other important causes that suffer in the governor’s budget proposal.

SEPTIC TESTIMONY: Gov. Martin O’Malley testified before House and Senate committees Friday on his bill to limit some septic systems restrictions, and has already suggested amendments to the legislation to make it more palatable to the farm community, Len Lazarick blogs for

Karen Young, president pro tem of the Frederick Board of Aldermen and wife of Sen. Ron Young, testified in support of the bill, Meg Tully writes for the Frederick News Post.

STATE WORKER RALLY: Organizers are still expecting thousands to protest the governor’s pension reform proposal tonight at a rally organized by Maryland’s largest union for state employees, as budget challenges return to the forefront in the General Assembly after weeks of debate on social issues, according to an AP report on the WJZ-TV website.

Patrick Moran, director of AFSMCE Maryland, spoke with WBAL-AM’s Anne Kramer about tonight’s rally.

GAS TAX HIKE: There were lots of honking horns in Perry Hall yesterday as people gathered to protest the proposed gas tax hike, reports WMAR-TV.

BALTIMORE PROTESTS: Baltimore residents – 1,600 parents, their children and school officials – braved Thursday’s rain to demonstrate in Annapolis against $15 million in proposed cuts to Baltimore public schools, writes Olivia Hullond of Baltimore Brew.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: Opinionmakers at the Diamondback write that making talking on a cellphone while driving a primary offense doesn’t address the majority of distracted driving hazards that are out there.

Ryan Marshall of the Carroll County Times writes that police officers have been exempt from cell ban for work use for a number of years.

FARM HEIRS: Del. Kathy Afzali’s bill to ease the way for farmers to give their land to their heirs is supported by Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance, writes Greg Latshaw for the Salisbury Daily Times.

COMBINED REPORTING: Megan Poinski of writes that although many economists, experts, unions and small businesses urged the House Ways and Means Committee to institute combined reporting for more equitable corporate taxes, delegates seemed skeptical of the taxation method.

MARKET HOUSE REJECTED: State lawmakers representing Anne Arundel County unanimously rejected devoting $300,000 to Market House renovations, write Elisha Sauers for the Annapolis Capital. Market House, on the city dock, houses restaurants and other vendors.

JOCKEY CLUB ENDS FIGHT: The owners of the Maryland Jockey Club have dropped their challenge to a state ruling rejecting their bid to build a slots parlor in Anne Arundel County after more than two years of appeals and legal challenges, writes Daniel Sernovitz for the Baltimore Business Journal.

BaCo LICENSE FEES: Baltimore County’s House and Senate delegations have voted to support County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s push to raise liquor and business license fees, the Sun’s Raven Hill reports.

SHOULDER FUNDRAISING: Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post reports that the Maryland Department of Transportation is citing safety as its objection to a bill that would allow people to solicit money along roads in Frederick County.

BARTLETT OPENS DOOR: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett will meet today with constituents one-on-one during an “open-door” meeting at his Hagerstown district office on Dual Highway. The door will be open from 2 to 4 p.m., according to the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

HARRIS PRIORITIES: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris is more willing than most other Republicans to cut government spending, an analysis of recent votes shows. But he also backs periodic pay increases for government employees and money for a consumer product database, clean energy technology and energy research — areas where other Republicans want to cut back, writes Nicole Gaudiano for the Salisbury Daily Times.

MCCAIN FILM IN MD: HBO announced plans Friday to film an account of the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain in Maryland. Game Change, based on the bestselling book of the same name, focuses on the campaign from McCain’s selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to their general election defeat to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Palin will be played by Academy Award-nominated actress Julianne Moore, blogs Matthew Hay Brown for the Sun.

BAKER GETS ADVICE: Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker got plenty of advice Friday about improving the way the county government does its work. Chief among them: reward schools and educators that excel, step up county enforcement on environmental violations, expand the county’s nonprofit sector and do a better job of communicating basic information to the public, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post.

PG ETHICS: The Prince George’s House delegation Friday took a key vote in support of an ethics package that would limit the County Council’s review of development deals, ban credit cards for county employees, and strengthen the county’s ethics commission, writes the Post’s Miranda Spivack.

NEPOTISM IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: Miranda Spivack reports that a son of former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson went to work in the county’s health department during his father’s last weeks in office despite a hiring freeze that left key positions vacant for months, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

BaCo REDISTRICTING: The newly-formed Baltimore County redistricting committee will hold its first meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Historic Court House in Towson. The meeting is open to the public, writes Steve Schuster for the Towson Times.

COUNCIL SET UP: The new Anne Arundel County Council members must have thought they were working fabulously well when Republicans and Democrats compromised on a bill eviscerating the bargaining rights of county public safety employees. Most didn’t realize they were being set up by a shrewd county executive and his close allies on the council, opines the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital.

SUN GUILD WIN SOME LOSE SOME: Although union employees at the Baltimore Sun agreed to a wage freeze and no pension benefits for new hires, the company has given up its longstanding effort to keep website workers separate from the newsroom and will allow them to join the union, reports 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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