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Mikulski To Chair The Appropriations Committee, Gun Control Legislation, and Comptroller Franchot Says Same-Sex Spouses Will Be Able To File 2013 MD Taxes Jointly
December 20, 2012
It appears that Senator Barbara Mikulski is poised to become the first woman to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. The unexpected move came one day after it appeared that Mikulski was in line to chair the Intelligence Committee. Instead, she will fill the powerful position running Appropriations that was vacated by the death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye earlier this week. The Appropriations Committee has significant power over federal spending -- and Mikulski will likely use her role, in part, to protect the federal government's presence in our state. Mikulski also says she hopes to use her new post to stop obstruction in the Senate; the first person she called upon hearing about her new position was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, Alabama's Richard Shelby -- who says he looks forward to working with Mikulski in her new job (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Daily Record, and the Frederick News Post).
Lawmakers and public safety officials from across the country are set to begin meeting with Vice President Joe Biden today, in an effort to draft new gun control legislation. Maryland lawmakers are also planning to introduce various gun control measures in the upcoming General Assembly session, in response to the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last week. Governor Martin O'Malley's administration is putting together a package of state-level legislation, likely to include a ban on assault weapons, better records and reporting, and limits on permits and ammunition. O'Malley took his call for an assault weapons ban to a national audience last night (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, and WJZ).
Angry and still shaken by last week’s carnage in Newtown, Connecticut, the American people will be tested in the days ahead. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith says President Obama will need popular support to achieve reform of the nation’s gun laws. Fraser comments in his weekly essay.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot says that married same-sex couples will be able to file joint tax returns in Maryland. The Comptroller says he and his staff will work with state lawmakers to determine if legislative action or a regulatory change is needed to decouple Maryland's tax code from the IRS and allow same-sex spoues to file joint returns in Maryland. Same sex marriage becomes legal in our state on January 1st 2013, so same-sex spouses won't be able to file their 2012 taxes jointly. But Comptroller Franchot vows to have whatever change is needed in place before income taxes are due for 2013 (via our wire service, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Daily Record).
Maryland is being praised for being prepared enough in case of a health emergency, by a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Maryland was one of five states that got an 8 out of 10 on the tenth annual "Ready or Not?" report (via our wire service; more online here).
Incidents of sexual assault at the nation's three military academies are growing, but victims are reporting only a small percentage of the attacks. So says the Defense Department in a survey due to be released today. CNN has already received details from the report showing that at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, only 12 midshipmen filed formal reports last year, even though 225 privately claimed they were victimized by unwanted sexual contact (via our wire service; more online here).
Maryland's Board of Public Works has agreed to spend devote a $75-million grant to upgrading Baltimore's Patapsco sewage treatment plant (via the Baltimore Sun). The BPW has also agreed to let BWI Airport waive a variety of fees -- as an incentive for airlines to create new routes to and from the airport (via our wire service and the Baltimore Business Journal).
Maryland's Secretary of Business and Economic Development is resigning. Christian Johansson will be leaving public service to lead a new group focused on university partnerships. Johansson will be replaced by his deputy, Dominick Murray (via our wire service and the Washington Post).
Some Baltimore County shoppers will be getting free parking from now until Christmas. County authorities say they want to encourage shoppers to support locally-owned businesses. Over 17-hundred parking meters will be covered with red "free parking" bags in the County... in places including Catonsville, Towson, Essex, and Dundalk (and many more; more information is available here).
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