State Roundup, November 11, 2011

DISTRICTING SUIT FILED: Ben Pershing of the Post reports that, as was reported here yesterday, nine Maryland voters filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court alleging that the state’s new congressional district map violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the electoral strength of minorities.

The civil action calls on the courts to declare the map unlawful and asks state officials to come up with a different redistricting plan, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

An Iowa-based foundation is financing the federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn Maryland’s new congressional map on the grounds that it unconstitutionally splits minority communities, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun. The foundation also defended Arizona’s contentious immigration law.

CHILD ABUSE NOTIFICATION: The Penn State scandal is having an impact in Maryland. Right now, an educator in Maryland must notify the police if they have reason to believe a child has been abused. But if they don’t, there is only a civil fine. WMAR-TV is reporting that state Sen. Nancy Jacobs says that’s not enough: “We are looking at criminal penalties, especially in the instance of an educator.”

SHA OFFICIAL LEAVES: The top procurement official at the State Highway Administration has left the agency four months after a harshly critical legislative audit criticized the agency’s performance in the awarding of contracts, Michael Dresser writes for the Sun.

SUPER SEARCH: Both praise and criticism for Maryland education practices under now retired state Superintendent of Education Nancy Grasmick were prevalent at one of seven forums held through yesterday to discuss the search for her replacement, Laura Buck writes for

ICC TRAFFIC: Katherine Shaver writes for the Post that motorists should expect extra traffic on roads that intersect with the Intercounty Connector — including Interstate 95, U.S. 29 and New Hampshire Avenue — beginning Nov. 22, when the ICC’s next 10-mile segment is scheduled to open and a 13-day toll-free period begins.

CURRIE TRIAL: Blogging for the Post, John Wagner writes that for another juror in the corruption and bribery trial of state Sen. Ulysses Currie, there were just too many holes in the case to convict him. “It wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Kelly Cavanaugh, 28. “I thought the prosecution did a great job with what they had, but they didn’t have enough evidence.”

Currie said he has been gratified by an outpouring of support from his constituents but thought little about his political future or an upcoming legislative ethics proceeding, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

MORE CURRIE: Gazette columnist Blair Lee mocks Sen. Ulysses Currie’s defense strategy and his likely punishment. Barry Rascovar says it’s time for Currie to go.

ONLINE DISCLOSURE: Margie Hyslop in the Gazette reports that Senate President Mike Miller now supports making financial disclosure forms available online since most officials file them electronically. This will be part of the review of ethics rules in the wake of the trial of Sen. Ulysses Currie.

ROASTING BUSCH: Speaker Michael Busch gets roasted and roasts in return for Boys & Girls Clubs fund-raiser, writes Len Lazarick of

JUDICIAL NOMINEE: President Obama intends to nominate Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge George Russell III to the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.

BONGINO FILES TO RUN: The Annapolis Capital’s Political Notes reports that Dan Bongino has officially filed to run for the U.S. Senate nomination as a Republican and U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger has joined a bi-partisan coalition on tax reform.

6th DISTRICT CANDIDATE: Maryland Juice is re-reporting that the Democratic field for the 6th Congressional district held by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett will grow by one very soon: Milad Pooran recently met with members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee

LOWER AGE TO SERVE: Baltimore city voters passed, by an overwhelming 3-1 margin, legislation that lowers the age of eligibility for local office from 21 to 18. This effort now affords Baltimore city 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds the same benefit offered to others in surrounding Maryland jurisdictions, Jerry Shandrowsky of Anne Arundel Politics writes.

MEANINGLESS ELECTION: The Sun editorial board opines that with Baltimore city’s General Election results – landslide victories and low voter turnout – alternatives would make the city’s general election meaningful.

CITY BOTTLE TAX: As part of a plan to increase funding for public city schools, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to increase the city’s bottle tax from 2 cents to 5 cents, Alexander Jackson reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

Karen Parks reports about the impact of the current bottle tax on businesses and consumers.

TAX BREAK MORATORIUM: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the Baltimore City Council’s finance committee chairman threatened yesterday to impose a moratorium on tax breaks for developers until City Hall implements more transparency in the process and funds more projects outside of downtown.

But, reports Melody Simmons of the Daily Record, plans to institute a moratorium were immediately rejected by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, whose spokesman released a statement that called it “puzzling.”

BA CO SCHOOL WASTE: Baltimore County school leaders disregarded advice from state officials and forged ahead to overhaul the teaching of English, spending more than $5 million over the past few years to buy textbooks that mostly sit unused and to rewrite a curriculum that has been shelved, the Sun’s Liz Bowie reports.

CITY RESPONDS: Baltimore city officials have responded to a fiery Oct. 21 letter from state Sen. Jim Brochin — in which the Towson Democrat lodged complaints about city use of fire roads in the forest buffer of Loch Raven Reservoir that is in his district — by assuring him that action has been taken, writes Kevin Rector of the Towson Times.

SENTENCE RECOMMENDATION: Prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former Prince George’s County councilwoman Leslie Johnson to a year or more in jail, saying she was part of a corrupt culture including illicit fundraising for her council race, according to an AP report in the Sun.

EMINENT DOMAIN: The Howard County Charter Review Commission, in a 7-5 vote yesterday, decided not to recommend a charter amendment on eminent domain, leaving the future of Councilman Greg Fox’s resolution on the matter up in the air, Lindsey McPherson reports for the Howard County Times. Regulations on eminent domain, the legal process by which a government can condemn land for public use, are not currently covered in the charter.

SESSION FORECAST: Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette forecasts that jobs and taxes will dominate the upcoming session of the General Assembly, but the governor’s staff is still working out his legislative program.

SCHOOL TAXES: A Frederick County proposal to make its school board financially independent appears to have little momentum in Annapolis and may not be able to overcome tradition and history, Andrew Ujifusa writes in the Gazette.

INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDED: Baltimore-Washington region’s aging infrastructure is a roadblock to growth, and business executives say more investment is needed in highways and mass transit, according to a report by Steve Monroe in the Gazette.

MILLIONAIRES’ TAX: Higher state income taxes on the highest incomes will be introduced again in Annapolis, generating $60 million to $70 million a year, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

JENNINGS SERVICE: In the Gazette, Benjamin Ford profiles Sen. J.B. Jennings’ service in Maryland’s Air National Guard and potential deployment to Afghanistan.

MAILED VOTES: Montgomery County voters would be able to cast their votes in special elections through a mail-in ballot under legislation proposed by Sen. Jennie Forehand, according to a Gazette story by Erin Cunningham.

KRATOVIL: The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach interviews former Congressman Frank Kratovil about why he will not be running to retake his seat from Rep. Andy Harris.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Heather Mizeur’s speech at the White House demo; two lawmakers pass the bar; Del. Michael Vaughn and the FCC; Ben Cardin at NIST; and Chris Van Hollen’s green award.




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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