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The 2013 General Assembly Session, School Budgets, and Temperature Records For 2012
January 9, 2013
The 2013 General Assembly session convenes at noon in Annapolis. During the next 90 days, lawmakers are expected to tackle some big issues, including a proposed ban on assault weapons, and some sort of tax increase to pay for new transportation projects. It's also expected that several speed camera reform bills will be proposed following the reports of problems with the camera system in the city of Baltimore; earlier this week, the city announced plans to replace all of its current cameras, some of which have error rates above 5 percent (more on the speed camera proposals is here from the Baltimore Sun). Lawmakers will also likely consider a bill repealing Maryland's death penalty... and it appears there are now 23 votes in favor of doing so in the State Senate, one less than needed to pass repeal in that chamber. Senate President Mike Miller has told Governor Martin O'Malley that if it can be shown that the 24th vote is there, he will bring the bill up from committee, where it has been stuck for several years. O'Malley is a long time opponent of the death penalty, but hasn't yet committed to push for its repeal this session (more on possible death penalty legislation here from the Washington Post). Lawmakers will also considering toughening the penalties on people who use Maryland's toll roads and bridges -- and don't pay the tolls. Over the past five years, more than $6.5-million dollars worth of tolls were not paid (more on toll legislation here from the Baltimore Sun). Maryland's referendum process also looks like it'll be up for debate in this year's session. This after three laws were put before voters during November's election. Governor O'Malley has said that the referendum process may be "a little too easy," -- and through a spokesperson, says it needs to be looked at. House Speaker Michael Busch says lawmakers should consider making more signatures necessary to put laws before voters. But nonpartisan watch dog group Common Cause argues that Maryland's petition process should be protected. And Republicans -- who want to continue using referendums to challenge controversial laws passed by the Democrat-dominated General Assembly -- oppose any changes that would make the petition process more difficult (more on referendum legislation here from the Baltimore Sun).
Republican lawmakers yesterday re-elected the team that will lead their caucus in the House of Delegates this year. Southern Maryland Delegate Anthony O'Donnell will serve again as House minority leader, a post he's held sine 2007. Eastern Shore Delegate Jeanne Haddaway-Riccio will serve her third year as House minority whip (via the Baltimore Sun).
The Baltimore City School Board has approved a massive overhaul for many city schools. The board voted unanimously yesterday to implement a ten-year plan costing some $2.4-billion; needs to be okayed by legislators in Annapolis (more here from the Baltimore Sun).
A $1.3-billion operating budget has been proposed for the Baltimore County school system for the coming fiscal year. The County school board will vote on the plan early next month (via the Baltimore Sun). In related news, the General Assembly will again consider whether to make Baltimore County's school board a "hybrid" one, including both elected and appointed members; the body is currently appointed by the Governor (via the Baltimore Sun).
Governor Martin O'Malley is calling on state colleges to increase the use of technology to help boost graduation rates. Currently 45% of Maryland adults have a college degree or advanced certification, and O'Malley would like to see that increase to 55% (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 crime and courts editor, Andy Rosen, about Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold's upcoming trial.
One of the laws passed by the General Assembly last year was the focus of a court hearing yesterday -- the legislation expanding the state's Casino Gambling program, which was approved in special session last summer, and then went before voters in the fall as "Question 7." A majority of those who cast ballots in November approved the "Question 7"... but opponents say that more votes were needed for the law to go into effect. They argued before a judge that a change in state gambling law requires approval of a majority of registered voters, not just a majority of those who show up to vote. The Maryland Attorney General's office notes that the phrase "qualified voters," which was contained in the law, has been used to refer to voters who turned out to vote in 18 states. The judge in the case says he will issue a decision on the matter as early as next week (via our wire service and the Washington Post).
2012 is making the weather history books for being the warmest year in history for the U.S. It was also the second warmest year for the state of Maryland (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
And in sports: The price of a 2013 single game ticket to a Baltimore Orioles game is staying the same (via our wire service and the Baltimore Business Journal).
IN FOCUS TODAY
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