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2013 General Assembly Priorities And The "Fiscal Cliff," Same-Sex Marriage, Speed Cameras, and 24/7 Operations For MD Casinos
December 7, 2012
The 2013 General Assembly session begins in a little more than a month, on January 9th... and yesterday, Governor Martin O'Malley met with House Speaker Michael Busch and State Senate President Mike Miller to talk about some of the issues that they'll deal with during it. They discussed everything from offshore wind power and school construction, to the death penalty and transportation funding... and while Speaker Busch described it as a "very good conversation," he added that the legislative agenda will be shaped by "fiscal cliff" negotiations currently taking place in Washington DC. If Congress and the President can't reach an agreement, a series of spending cuts and tax increases will go into effect January 1st -- with a huge potential impact for Maryland's economy. The legislative leaders say that specific plans for the state's budget will need to wait until the federal issues are resolved (via our wire service, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Daily Record).
It didn't come with much fanfare, but yesterday marked the first day same-sex couples in Maryland could apply for marriage licenses. The licenses will permit couples to wed the moment New Year's Day arrives, as that is when Maryland's new same-sex marriage law takes effect. In Baltimore, Clerk of Courts Frank Conaway says his office has already changed the wording of the vows to reflect same sex couples (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, and the Frederick News Post).
Maryland's casinos will be allowed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, later this month. The 'round-the-clock operating hours were approved by voters last month as part of "Question 7," which also allows table games at state casinos and permits a casino in Prince Georges County. Table games won't start operating 'till spring, and bidding process for the PG casino won't begin 'till sometime next year. But the 24-7 operating hours will be allowed to start on December 27th... and the state's largest Casino -- Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County -- expects to start operating around the clock at that point (via the Washington Post).
Two more Baltimore speed cameras are going on the list of devices that are issuing erroneous tickets. A camera on University Parkway and another on Potee Street near Cherry Hill were caught issuing tickets to vehicles that were not speeding (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
On today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics, WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith talks to The Sun's Andy Green about the departure of two top Governor's aides.
In somewhat related news, the Executive Director of the Maryland Democratic Party is on the way out. David Sloan announced by e-mail yesterday that he's stepping down from his post, which he's held for the past four years (via the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore's cold weather may be tough on people -- but it's also a challenge for pets. Lisa Morabito with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter tells our wire service that pets kept outside this time of year can get hypothermia, frostbite or even freeze to death. If you believe an animal is being mistreated you should call 311 and report it to Animal Control.
Johns Hopkins University is pledging $10-million to help neighborhoods around their campus in North Baltimore (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
In sports news this morning: The Orioles have announced that they're keeping season ticket prices stable in 2013. This will be the fifth season in a row that O's season ticket prices haven't changed (via the Baltimore Business Journal).
And: the Ravens travel down I-95 for a game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. The Ravens are 9 and 3, and could clinch a playoff berth with a win this week and possibly the AFC North title too. And Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has issued a friendly challenge to Rushern Baker, the Executive of Prince George's County, where the Redskins FedEx field is located. Ulman says he'll wear burgundy and gold if the Redskins win... but wants Baker to wear purple and black if the Ravens triumph. County Executive Baker has yet to respond to the challenge (via our wire service and the Washington Post).
And in a story of questionable relevance: one of the first opinion polls for the 2016 presidential race is out. In it, 5 percent of respondents say they'd like to vote for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. O'Malley has long been rumored to be eyeing a presidential bid... and the Public Policy Polling survey puts him ahead of a couple potential candidates -- but well behind others, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. And O'Malley only gets that 5 percent of the vote if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stays out of the race; if Clinton decides to run, she'd have support of 61 percent of those surveyed... and O'Malley's support would drop to just 2 percent. Of course, we don't know who's actually going to get in the race, the first primary votes are more than 3 years away, and a lot can happen between now and then (via the Baltimore Sun).
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