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House Committee Changes, Speed Cameras, Liquor Store Zoning, and Seal Spotting
January 11, 2013
Several committees in the House of Delegates will look a bit different this year. House Speaker Michael Busch has the authority to make committee assignments; he's set to formally announce the changes later today, but information about some of them is already out. For example, Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer has been removed from the House Judiciary Committee, and placed on Ways and Means. The change comes as Dwyer faces charges related to a power-boat collision in August that injured him and six others. Dwyer has admitted to being under the influence of alcohol at the time. The Judiciary Committee, where Dwyer had served for 11 years, handles legislation involving boating and drunk driving (via the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post). Another change: Frederick County Delegate Galen Clagett is moving from the Appropriations Committee, which works on the state budget, to the House Economic Matters Committee. Clagett notes that he's been doing budgets for 10 years, and says he's looking forward to finishing his time in the legislature working on policy (via the Frederick News Post). And Howard County Delegate Frank Turner is set to become the Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Turner has spent the last five years on a subcommittee that dealt with gambling issues, and last year helped move an expansion of the state's casino gambling program through the legislature (via the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore City plans on continuing to use what critics call a "bounty" system to pay its new speed camera contractor. Under the as-yet unfinalized agreement, Brekford Corporation of Hanover will make $11.20 per $40 citation. Current law forbids contractors that operate speed camera programs to be paid based on the number of tickets issued. But jursidictions like Baltimore City have gotten around that, by saying that they operate their speed camera programs, not the contractors. Several lawmakers say they'll push to outlaw any contracts that pay camera vendors based on citation volume during this year's General Assembly session. The city says if that happens, it'll reevaluate the best way to pay the vendor (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
In related news, the Maryland State Highway Administration has put information about the accuracy of the speed cameras in highway construction zones online. The announcement comes after recent reports of inaccuracies by Baltimore City's speed cameras; earlier this week, the city announced that it's planning to replace all of its current cameras with newer, more accurate ones (more here from the Gazette).
On today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics, Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about Governor Martin O'Malley's policy proposals viewed through the lens of a potentialpresidential run.
Support is growing for a zoning proposal that would reduce the number of liquor stores here in of Baltimore. If approved, around 100 of the city's 500 liquor stores would be phased out over the next five years (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore school officials are recommending that the school board cut ties with the independent operators of six schools. Twenty-five schools were seeking contract renewal yesterday, but only nineteen received extensions (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
The number of fire deaths in Maryland dropped to a record low in 2012 (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
State prosecutors are challenging subpoenas submitted by attorneys for Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold -- who goes to trial next week on five charges, including four counts of misconduct in office. Prosecutors say one of the subpoenas asks for confidential information and the other is for, quote, "inadmissible, irrelevant evidence" (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
If you're planning to spend some time along Maryland's Atlantic coast in the coming days, you might see some seals. And the Maryland Coastal Bays program and National Aquarium are asking you to report seal sightings at a new website so that officials can learn more about their behavior (via the Daily Times).
Baltimore is in the running to host what's called the Super Bowl of sailing. Volvo Ocean Race officials will arrive Monday to see if the city will host the U.S. stop of the round-the-world contest. Baltimore is among about 30 finalists to be one of approximately ten stopovers for the 2014-2015 race (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
And in sports: The Ravens are off to the Mile High City today where they will battle the Denver Broncos in a divisional playoff game tomorrow. A win for the Ravens would send them to Houston or New England for the AFC Championship Game. Tomorrow's game kicks off at 4:30.
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