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Sequestration, Tougher Gun Restrictions Proposed For The Mentally Ill, Dog Bite Legislation, and Higher Prices For Ravens Tickets
February 20, 2013
Elected leaders from Maryland's DC suburbs are calling on Congress to stop the scheduled spending cuts, known as sequestration, before the fast-approaching deadline of March 1st. At a press conference yesterday, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said the cuts would have a disastrous effect, not only on the local economy, but also on national security. Ulman was joined by Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker in urging lawmakers to find a way to avoid what they're calling "a financial storm" (via our wire service and the Washington Post).
Governor Martin O'Malley is proposing stronger restrictions on gun purchases by the mentally ill. The O'Malley administration announced that it wants to prevent anyone involuntarily committed to a public or private mental health facility for any length of time from buying a gun. The Governor had originally favored current law, that prevents gun purchases by people committed to mental health facilities for at least 30 consecutive days. But yesterday, he agreed to the stricter prohibition, backed by many Democrats. A similar law was put in place in Virginia after the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. The new measure will be added to the Governor's package of gun control legislation, which would also ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, and require people who buy handguns to get licenses and provide their fingerprints to state police. That legislation could get a vote as soon as tomorrow in the State Senate's Judiciary Committee (via the Washington Post).
A new OpinionWorks poll of registered Maryland voters finds that a majority support licensing for handgun purchasers. The question asked was “Would you support requiring a license to purchase a handgun in Maryland that would require a fingerprint, criminal background check, and safety training?” -- 81% of voters said yes, with 89% support among registered Democrats and 64% of registered Republicans (the poll was commissioned by Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence). You can find the results of the survey here.
In Annapolis yesterday, the House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to legislation essentially overturning a ruling by Maryland's highest court that declared pit bulls "inherently dangerous" dogs, and made landlords liable if one or their tenants' dogs bit someone. The legislation would make landlords liable for dog bites from all breeds of dogs, but only if it can be proved that the landlord should have known the dog was dangerous. And the bill makes it possible for dog bite victims to sue dog owners, but gives owners a chance to defend their dogs in court (more here from WYPR's Karen Hosler).
On today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics, Fraser Smith and Joel McCord from WYPR's political team talk about the candidates vying to become Anne Arundel County Executive, the post vacated by John Leopold after he was found guilty on two counts of misconduct in office.
State Senator Catherine Pugh is pushing a bill to help drivers covered by the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. Her measure would allow premiums to be paid in installments; current law says the premium must be paid in full ahead of time (via our wire service and the Baltimore Business Journal).
A week after an officer was shot during a training exercise, limited instruction has resumed at the Baltimore police academy. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says the incident is prompting a review of the department's use of weapons. That review will include how officers use guns, tasers, batons and other weapons, in training and all aspects of police work (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
The Baltimore County Council has approved legislation that changes the appeal process for retirement benefit decisions for county workers (via the Baltimore Sun).
The National Journal is out with annual ranking of "most liberal" and "most convervative" members of the House of Representatives. Once again, a Maryland lawmaker is tied for first place in the "most liberal" category -- 4th District Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She shares the slot with 13 other Democrats. And our state's sole Republican in Washington ranked high on the "most conservative" side -- the analysis marks 1st District Congressman Andy Harris as the 20th most conservative member of the House (more here from the Baltimore Sun).
In sports news: the Ravens are raising ticket prices for games at M&T Bank Stadium. Tickets will go up by an average of ten-percent for the 2013-14 season. A team spokesman says the increase was planned and is not related to the team's Super Bowl win. The last time the Ravens raised ticket prices was in 2009 (via our wire service and the Baltimore Business Journal).
And: The Maryland Racing Commission has approved the spring racing schedule at Pimlico Race Course. 21 open stakes races are included inthe 36-day schedule, with races starting April 6th and running through June 1st... with the Preakness Stakes in the middle, on May 18th. The purses for all the races total more than $3.75-million -- up more than half a million from last year (via the Baltimore Business Journal). Meanwhile, a task force is urging the Maryland Racing Commission to set aside even more money to augment the purse payouts for the owners and breeders of Maryland horses (via the Baltimore Sun).
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