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Transportation Funding, Offshore Wind, Gun Laws, and MD's Petition Process
February 21, 2013
When it comes to transportation funding, finding a proposal that can pass the General Assembly may lie somewhere between a whopping tax increase and a catastrophic failure of Maryland’s transportation system. But so far, consensus on the issue has been elusive. WYPR’s Karen Hosler attended a public hearing on the issue yesterday -- and brings us the latest.
The House of Delegates yesterday gave preliminary approval to a bill that could lead to the development of an offshore wind power industry; a final vote on the measure could come before the week is over. A companion bill is still moving through the State Senate, where similar legislation failed last year (via the Baltimore Sun).
Some Maryland Democrats are proposing changes to the state's petition process. Opponents of the bills say they're designed to effectively kill the referendum process as it currently exists. Last year's election saw three petition-driven referenda, brought to the ballot with major help from the website mdPetitions.org -- started up by Republican Delegate Neil Parrott. Parrott is speaking out against the legislation, which will get a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee today. One of the bills imposes new rules and regulations for petition gatherers, and additional reporting requirements for people who sign petitions; another bill would triple the number of signatures necessary to put a law before voters (via marylandreporter.com).
Stricter gun laws may be coming to Maryland, but gun control advocates are taking no chances. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is calling for tax and fee increases to ensure the city's long term fiscal stability. In a speech yesterday, Rawlings-Blake also repeated her call for ten percent reduction in the city workforce over the next eight years. The Mayor also called for a new taxi cab excise tax, and a tax on billboards. Rawlings-Blake said her plan's designed to make it possible for a 20 percent reduction in property taxes, and attract ten-thousand new families to live in the city (via our wire service, the Baltimore Business Journal, and the Baltimore Sun).
If the federal budget cuts known as sequestration take effect on March 1st, 12-thousand Maryland workers could lose their jobs, and education funding for the state could fall by about $55-million. President Obama yesterday called Congress to work quickly to find a compromise to prevent the sequester from happening (via our wire service and WJZ).
Conventional newspapers may be shrinking, but there is a growing trend towards publications that have found a niche. One paper here in Baltimore is the ultimate in advocacy journalism -- it's by Baltimore's homeless population and its advocates. WYPR's Mary Rose Madden has the story.
Baltimore Police apparently did not have approval to conduct training at a shuttered state facility for the disabled where a trainee was shot last week (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
Maryland is number one in the nation when it comes to students' success in Advanced Placement exams. It's the fourth year in a row that Maryland has lead the U.S. in AP superiority (via our wire service; more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Gazette).
Two of the three major credit rating agencies have given Harford County their top grade. Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings give the county the coveted triple-A rating. Standard and Poor's rated the county one notch below at double-A plus, the same as last year. The better ratings help the county save money when it borrows (via oru wire service and the Havre de Grace Patch).
And in sports: now-former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is moving from the field to the broadcast booth. The just-retired football star has officially joined ESPN for next season.
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