INFANT MORTALITY FALLS: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that Maryland’s infant mortality rate fell last year to its lowest recorded level, writes John Wagner for the Post. While the white infant mortality rate has remained stable in recent years, the rate for black infants fell substantially, from 12.0 per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 10.3 last year, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
RED LINE: The Maryland Department of Transportation says it will listen to concerns about Baltimore City’s proposed light rail Red Line but that major changes to the project aren’t coming, reports Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.
DRIVING DECLINE: PIRG reports that Marylanders drove their vehicles 4% fewer miles from 2005 to 2011, mirroring a general driving decline across the country, and suggests less money should be spent on road improvements and more on mass and alternative transportation, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandRepoter.com.
STORMWATER FEE’S FUTURE: Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County said he’s putting together legislation to repeal, reduce or compensate Maryland residents for the stormwater runoff fee and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards has another planned open house. These are among items in Allison Bourg’s Political Notes in the Capital Gazette.
FARM RUNOFF REGS: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun talk about the state’s delay of new farm runoff regulations and what the decision means for both environmentalists and Maryland’s poultry industry.
TAX MATTERS: Alexei Koseff and John Fritze write in the Sun that legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes no matter what state they live in, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department announced Thursday.
GANSLER WANTS MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to add his voice today to those calling for an increase in the state’s minimum wage, reports John Wagner in the Post.
Gansler, a Democrat who plans to run for governor, is one of the first state-wide elected officials to publicly back legislation to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour by 2015, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.
MOCO MINIMUM WAGE: Meanwhile, one Montgomery County Council member wants to raise that county’s minimum wage to $12 a hour.
GANSLER ON BUSINESS, SENIORS: Doug Gansler, a leading Democratic hopeful for Maryland governor, said Thursday that he wants to cut the state’s corporate income tax rate to the same level as Virginia’s, embracing a cause that has been pushed primarily by Republicans, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.
Gansler also pledged Thursday that if elected governor, he would push a series of initiatives to benefit the state’s senior citizens, including possible new tax breaks, writes John Wagner in the Post.
Gansler also proposed skills training for seniors who must return to the workforce after retirement, creating more programs to keep aging seniors in their homes longer and a statewide volunteer and mentoring program seniors could join, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.
MD GOP BLUES: Politicalmaryland.com commentator Barry Rascovar, in a piece in MarylandReporter.com, writes about the sad state of Maryland’s GOP, saying that Republicans have made themselves irrelevant in Maryland’s populous midsection.
DNA BACKLOG GRANTS: Carrie Wells of the Sun reports that Maryland’s two U.S. senators have announced that the Baltimore City Police Department will get more than $500,000 in federal grants to reduce a significant backlog in processing DNA evidence.
FIREARMS AT DUMPS: The Carroll County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to allow people to carry firearms at county-owned waste acceptance facilities Thursday, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times. The issue was raised by the Second Amendment Foundation, an organization based in Bellevue, Wash., that seeks to promote a better understanding of firearms rights through educational and legal action.
LOCAL GUN LAWS: The Washington state-based Second Amendment Foundation sent letters this spring to Maryland towns including Gaithersburg, Poolesville, Garrett Park, Frederick, Cumberland, Ocean City, Baltimore and Annapolis, threatening them with a lawsuit unless they revised or eliminated the sections of their code the foundation believed violated state law. Ryan Marshall in the Gazette reports reaction to the letters has been mixed, according to the communications director for the foundation.
PIPES DREAM? The Talbot County Council voted this week to accept a $1.65 million grant to help provide water and sewer for the new University of Maryland Regional Medical Center, even though it’s not clear whether the facility will ever be built, writes Chris Polk for the Easton Star Democrat. The vote was an act in good faith that construction will hopefully take place despite “rolling delays” in the starting of the new hospital.
SESAME STREET: Can you tell me how to get to … 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? This delightful piece on Buzzfeed might be an antidote to some of the unremitting anger on blogs and Facebook. It shows Presidential hopefuls as Sesame Street characters, such as Martin O’Malley as Sonny Friendly and Chris Christie as the Cookie Monster. President Elmo closes with a cute song.
DISTRICT 20 SEAT: A half-dozen candidates are in the race to take the District 20 seat left open by Del. Heather Mizeur‘s run for governor, and more are rumored, reports the Gazette’s Kate Alexander.
TAX MIGRATION: A new book, “How Money Walks” by Travis H. Brown, looking at IRS and Census Bureau data, determined that Maryland lost a little more than $7 billion in adjusted gross income due to residents moving away between 1992 and 2010, according to Kevin James Shay in the Gazette.