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The Ravens' Victory Parade And Party, Transportation Funding, The Death Penalty, Handgun Licensing, and Leopold's Pension
February 5, 2013
Baltimore celebrates the Ravens' Super Bowl victory today, with a parade from City Hall to M&T Bank Stadium. The parade begins at about 10:45; a party for fans at the stadium starts at around 12:30, and parking at the stadium and party admission is free. A map of the parade route - and associated street closures - is here.
The General Assembly is getting off to an early start today -- so that lawmakers can attend the Ravens tribute. Annapolis usually gets down to business at 10am... but today, work starts at 9 in the House of Delegates, and at 9:30 in the State Senate. And lawmakers will be pressed to get their work done as swiftly as possible (via our wire service, the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun).
State Senate President Mike Miller has introduced legislation that he says would raise hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation projects. The measure would apply a 3 percent sales tax on gasoline at the wholesale level. It would also permit Maryland's counties - and Baltimore City - to apply their own local gas taxes of up to five cents a gallon to pay for local transportation projcects. Miller is also asking the General Assembly to study the feasibility of leasing the Intercounty Connector to a private company -- he says the move would immediately free up 2 billion dollars. And he wants to create regional authorities to oversee public transit projects like the Red Line in Baltimore and the Purple Line in the DC region; the regional authorities could use property taxes to pay for those projects. Senate President Miller is also proposing a constitutional amendment that would prevent money from the Transportation Trust Fund from being used for anything other than transit projects (via the Baltimore Sun).
Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold will apparently get to keep his county pension of eight-thousand-dollars a year. Leopold resigned from his post late last week, after being found guilty on two misconduct charges. If he'd been removed from office by the County Council, Leopold would have lost his pension... but since he resigned, there is apparently no legal mechanism to allow the council to revoke the payment (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
Two more State Senators announced their support for ending Maryland's death penalty. That brings the total number of Senators favoring repeal of capital punishment to 25 -- one more than is necessary for a bill to pass the chamber. Repeal advocacates say they're confident that the measure also has the votes to pass the House of Delegates (via the Washington Post and the Baltimroe Sun).
Repealing the death penalty is one of Governor Martin O'Malley's legislative priorities this year; another is a package of legislation aimed at reducing gun violence -- a key provision of which would require licences for handguns. And his plan would make the state money, according to analysis from the state's Department of Legislative Services (via the Baltimore Sun).
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings is part of a bipartisan group of Representatives introducing a bill in the House today that would make gun trafficking a federal crime. It's called the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013... and in addition to making trafficking a federal crime, would level new penalties on so-called "straw purchasers" who knowingly buy firearms for convicted criminals who are legally barred from buying their own guns (via the Washington Post).
Thirty years ago, two Episcopal churches - one in Baltimore County and one in the city - decided to address the needs of their community - body and soul. WYPR’s Fraser Smith reports.
The speed limit on the Intercounty Connector is about to go from its current 55 mph to 60 mph; state officials say the change will be in effect by March 31st (via our wire service and the Gazette).
Ten of Baltimore City's 83 speed cameras are back online -- and so are about 15 of its red-light cameras. The entire camera system shut down at the beginning of the year, when a new contractor took over operations. The city will not say which cameras are operating (via the Baltimore Sun).
The General Assembly's ethics comittee has found that Democratic Delegate Emmett Burns committed an "egregious abuse of public resources" last year, when he used his official stationary to write a letter urging the Baltimore Ravens to stop player Brendon Ayanbadejo from speaking publicly about his support for same sex marriage. At the time, Maryland voters had not yet decided the fate of the state's law legalizing same sex marriage; in November, voters approved the legislation. The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics says that lawmakers should not use General Assembly letterhead to advocate for or against ballot measures. But the Committee ruled that Delegate Burns should not be punished, because he publicly apologized for his actions (via the Washington Post).
That ethics committee is recommending a reprimand for an Anne Arundel County lawmaker. Republican Delegate Tony McConkey reportedly failed to disclose a conflict of interest when he lobbied and voted for a measure that would make it easier for him to regain his real estate license. The committee also recommended yesterday that House Speaker Michael Busch request that Delegate McConkey make a public apology (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
IN FOCUS TODAY
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