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Same-Sex Marriage, Gas Prices, Gas Taxes, and Catholic Schools Week
Monday, January 30, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Opponents of the same-sex marriage bill making its way through the General Assembly are taking to the streets to protest this evening at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. The event is being organized by the Maryland Marriage Alliance. The same sex marriage bill will get a hearing in a State Senate committee tomorrow; it's the first time that this version of the legislation will get a formal vetting (a similar bill failed during last year's session; this year, the measure included extended protections for religious instituions that don't want to perform or recognize same sex marriages). Governor Martin O'Malley, who's backing the bill, spoke in favor of it over the weekend at a national conference on gay and lesbian issues; earlier at that conference, first lady Katie O'Malley drew criticism for saying "cowards" in the General Assembly stopped last year's bill from passing. Katie O'Malley has since said that she "regrets" her choice of words (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post and the Frederick News Post and marylandreporter.com).
A new poll conducted by the Washington Post finds that about 50% of Marylanders are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, with 44% of those surveyed opposed. The poll examined the views of Maryland RESIDENTS; a recent Gonzales poll of Maryland VOTERS found a near 50/50 split -- and if the General Assembly does legalize same-sex marriage, voters will likely end up deciding whether the bill will take effect after a ballot referendum.
That Washington Post poll also shows that the majority of Marylanders don't think Governor O'Malley should become President of the United States; 59% of Maryland residents don't think O'Malley would make a good president, with only 26% saying that they think he would. Even so, more than half of those surveyed approve of the job O'Malley doing as governor; the poll put his approval rating at 55%.
Governor O'Malley says he's committed to finding a way to pay for $2-billion worth of transportation projects. The governor is expected to introduce a plan to increase the state's tax on gasoline to fund the projects; yesterday, he indicated to the Washington Post that he might detail that plan in his annual State of the State speech on Wednesday. The new Post poll shows that less than half of Maryland residents are in favor of raising the state's gas tax -- and the higher the proposed tax hike, the greater the opposition among those polled.
Some Maryland lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to ensure that dedicated funds cannot be transfered to the state's General Fund. That would include the gas tax -- revenues from which are dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund. The measure has been sponsored by 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans... but many other lawmakers are opposed to the idea, amid worries that it would limit options when it comes time to balance the state's budget (via the Daily Record).
Baltimore is getting a new Director of Finance. City native Harry E. Black will be named to the post today; he replaces Edward Gallagher, who's stepping down after 29 years of service (via the Baltimore Sun).
Gas prices are up again -- the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded increased five cents over the last week, hitting $3.47 yesterday. Analysts tell AAA Mid-Atlantic that gas prices will likely cross the $4-a-gallon threshhold by spring.
And Catholic Schools in the Baltimore area are kicking off a week of celebrations today... as they announce they are making a turnaround after years of struggling to boost enrollment (via our wire service and WJZ).
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