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From MarylandReporter.com:

GAY MARRIAGE: The Sun's editorial board, writing about the one vote needed to pass marriage equality in Senate, says that this legislation may look controversial now, as civil rights bills did in the 1960s. Within a few years, it won't.

DEATH PENALTY: Two staunch death-penalty opponents have again introduced legislation to abolish capital punishment in Maryland, although only one is optimistic on the possibility for passage, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.

SEPTIC BAN: Gov. Martin O'Malley is moving forward on his pledge to make sure that no more housing developments are built with septic systems, which he called an outmoded technology that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.

TEXTING: Lawmakers are pushing again to expand prohibitions on cell phone use behind the wheel. Proposals include a ban on reading texts or electronic messages such as e-mails while driving, and enabling officers to pull over drivers talking on their handheld devices even if they are not breaking any other laws, writes the Sun's Julie Bykowicz. Sen. Jim Brochin's bill would ban the reading of text messages as well, reports John Rydell of WBFF-TV.

ROCKY SLOTS: Marta Mossburg comes down hard against legislation that would force a company interested in operating slot machines in Allegany County to buy the troubled state-supported Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort. She writes for the Frederick News Post.

PAROLE VIOLATIONS: Minor parole violations shouldn't be met with the same punishment as major ones, writes the editorial board for the Frederick News Post. Del. Michael Hough is lead sponsor of legislation to add nuance to the situation.

PUBLIC FINANCING: In what has become an annual tradition, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com, Del. Jon Cardin is sponsoring legislation to establish a fund that would finance General Assembly campaigns with public funds.

CLOSING LOOPHOLE: Gov. O'Malley is supporting a bill that would close a campaign finance loophole that treats LLCs and individuals as separate entities allowing them to donate more money, according to an AP brief in the Daily Record.

Aaron Davis of the Post writes that the loophole boosted fundraising totals for O'Malley's campaigns during more than two decades of successful elections in the state.

IMMIGRATION DEBATE: The state's immigration debate spilled into the lobby of the House Office Building in Annapolis yesterday when a dozen immigrants who planned to testify at the hearing were briefly blocked from entering the building, writes Ann Marimow for the Posty.

MarylandReporter.com's Barbara Pash reports that three bills that would crack down on illegal immigrants were hailed by supporters, who called the immigrants a public safety issue, and condemned by opponents, who said the bills raise constitutional concerns.

HEALTH REFORM: As Maryland seeks to implement a key element of federal health care reform, doctors, insurance brokers and business groups are advocating less government control, while consumer and health care advocates want more protections and a voice in a new state agency, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter.com

CORDISH SUES: In a wide-ranging lawsuit, the Sun's Nicole Fuller reports, the Cordish Cos. is suing its former casino business partners in Indiana and the Maryland Jockey Club for $600 million, claiming they conspired to defame Cordish in an effort to prevent it from developing what could be the state's most lucrative slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall.

Rachel Bernstein of the Daily Record also reports that the suit alleges that the Jockey Club, co-owned by MI Developments Inc. and Penn National, conspired with the owners of the Indiana Downs casino to tarnish Cordish’s reputation before last year's casino location referendum.

Daniel Sernovitz writes the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

PEPCO OUT? A group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to look at whether the power outage problem that has plagued Pepco and its customers since last year is tantamount to the company abandoning its franchise to operate in Maryland, Ben Mook reports for the Daily Record.

TRACKING SEX CRIMINALS: An Eastern Shore lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require some convicted sex offenders to wear a GPS tracking device as a condition of probation or once they are released from prison, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

POACHED FISH: Candus Thomson writes for the Sun that one of the Maryland's leading watermen's groups is calling for the state to lift the ban on netting rockfish while a fishing organization is urging the DNR to stand its ground until it can deal with a poaching ring responsible for the taking of 12 tons of fish.

ICC PHASE 1: A week before thousands of motorists descend upon 7.2 miles of new asphalt, construction on the Intercounty Connector's first segment is nonstop as workers finish the final touches: erecting enormous green exit signs, installing guardrails and completing fences to keep the deer out, Katherine Shaver reports for the Post.

EARLY VOTING: Frederick County could have the option to add more early voting locations under a bill proposed in the Maryland General Assembly, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

DEM PRIORITIES: The United Democrats of Frederick County met with two of its reps in Annapolis to discuss its top state legislative proposals this year, which revolved around transportation funding and improving the economy, Meg Tully reports for the News Post.

JOHNSON DEFENDS: Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson said that although he cannot address allegations that he accepted bribes from developers seeking help getting federal housing funds, he hopes residents will remember the gains that took place during his tenure, reports Daniel Valentine for the Gazette.

PG ETHICS BOARD: The Prince George's ethics board, which is staffed part time, could set up regular ethics training for the county's 6,000 employees, but it has not done so for 24 years, reports the Post's Miranda Spivack.

HARFORD REDISTRICTING: Following up a piece in the Dagger, Gail Mary Hare of the Sun writes that, as Harford County begins its redistricting, a legal provision aimed at limiting the influence of small, single-issue parties is being applied to Democrats, who make up nearly half of the county's registered voters.

CITY REMAPPING: As Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gets ready to unveil her redistricting plan, staffers say it is a good-faith effort to divide the population evenly, keep neighborhoods whole and respect the racial makeup of the city, as required by federal law. But, reports Julie Scharper for the Sun, critics see political motivations.

AA NAACP RALLIES: Andrea Siegel of the Sun writes that the Anne Arundel County branch of the NAACP held a show of support yesterday for Carl Snowden, the head of the state attorney general's civil rights office, on the heels of Snowden's appeal of a drunken-driving conviction. Jeff Abell of WBFF-TV was at the rally.

Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2011/02/16/state-roundup-february-16-2011/#ixzz1E8wqbVTL Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

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