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From MarylandReporter.com:

GAY MARRIAGE: The same-sex marriage bill flew over a hurdle to passage on Thursday, passing the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee with a vote of 7 to 4, reports The Post's John Wagner. The Sun's Annie Linskey blogs about the bill's passage in the committee on Thursday.

The Herald Mail ran the Associated Press story on the vote.

Soon after the bill passed out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Sen. James Rosapepe announced it had enough votes to pass the full Senate, reports The Sun's Annie Linskey. She puts his e-mail announcement in her Sun blog. The Diamondback's Rachel Roubien reports that University of Maryland students were key in lobbying Rosapepe to support the bill.

Sen. John Astle, who has not declared his position on the issue yet, told The Post's John Wagner that he could see Astle's position on same-sex marriage on the Senate chamber's voting board.

Senate President Mike Miller said to expect a freewheeling debate ranging into the evening and weekend hours, culminating with a vote in the chamber by the end of the month, writes The Daily Record's Steve Lash. The Post's John Wagner writes that Miller predicts the bill will pass by the slimmest of margins.

The Sun's opinionators look at what's next for the measure.

The Maryland Senate is facing a talkathon on the bill to permit gay marriages. The measure is likely to pass, but Alan Brody in the Gazette tries to find out if there are enough votes to shut off debate.

Looking ahead to the bill's prospects in the House of Delegates, the Examiner's Hayley Petersen writes that there are 59 supporting votes already locked in. The bill will need 71 votes to pass. The Washington Times' Cheryl Wetzstein says hearings begin on that side of the Legislature next Friday.

ANIMAL CRUELTY: Lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would stiffen the penalties for animal cruelty, proposed after a couple's Siberian husky dog was shot and killed in a park, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller.

PENSION RALLY: The state's largest public employee union are planning a big rally at the State House March 14 to oppose Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed cuts in their pension benefits, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette.

PENSION COSTS: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, in a Gazette op-ed, says the fundamental problem with teacher pensions and education funding in Maryland is a disconnect between the people who run the schools and the public officials who have to pay for them.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: A House bill allowing medical marijuana has almost enough co-sponsors to pass it, reports The Examiner's Hayley Petersen. Debate on that bill begins next week.

SLOTS LETTER: The owner of Laurel Park Raceway sent senators a bill urging them to vote against a bill that would prohibit slots licensees from trying to delay casino creation by other slots licensees, saying it could hurt his defense in court, reports The Capital's Liam Farrell. This bill was proposed to discourage the same legal battles as Laurel Park owner Penn National and Arundel Mills developer Cordish Cos have been involved in, supporters said.

HEALTH CARE: GOP leaders say the O'Malley administration is moving too fast in implementing federal reforms, reports MarylandReporter.com's Len Lazarick.

Gazette columnist Laslo Boyd writes about the O'Malley administration's embrace of national health care reform.

VOTER REGISTRATION: Sen. Ron Young is proposing two bills that would use technology to upgrade the state's voter registration system, reports the Frederick News-Post's Meg Tully.

DRUGS TO MINORS: The family of a 17-year-old who died by a lethal combination of drugs testified Thursday in support of a bill that would criminalize selling drugs that result in minors' deaths, reports The Herald Mail's Andrew Schotz. The violation would carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

WORCESTER COUNTY GAMBLING: Eastern Shore residents who testified on a pair of bills that would allow slot machines in Worcester County fraternal organizations tell the Salisbury Daily Times' Jennifer Shutt about the legislation. Neither bill is scheduled for a committee vote.

SHAKEN BABY DEATHS: Three families who have had infants die from being shaken testified Thursday in support of a bill that would strengthen the punishment for fatal child abuse to a potential life in prison, reports The Herald Mail's Andrew Schotz.

DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA: The Black Caucus voted to endorse a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to an Associated Press story in the Daily Record.

HOWARD COUNTY CENSUS: The immigrant population in Howard County grew 123% in the last 10 years, according to Census figures, reports Lindsey McPherson and Kellie Woodhouse for the Columbia Flier.

FEDERAL EDUCATION GATEKEEPER: The Sun's Liz Bowie looks at Leslie Wilson, the Education Department's assistant state superintendent for assessment, and gatekeeper for federal grant funds – also known as the most popular woman in the state's schools.

DC METRO BOARD: As it works to start refocusing and planning for the future, the DC Metro Board gets an unexpected shakeup as 25-year Metro veteran Peter Benjamin is asked by the O'Malley administration to step down from the Metro Board, reports The Post's Ann Scott Tyson. Gov. Martin O'Malley has nominated former congressman Michael Barnes to replace him. Barnes tells the Gazette's Margie Hyslop that he's dedicated to making Metro the "gold standard" for mass transit once again.

HANSON STATUE: Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton is opposed to removing a statue of Maryland revolutionary John Hanson from the U.S. Capitol and replacing it with a statue of Maryland-born freed slave and abolitionist icon icon Harriet Tubman, reports Jeff Newman of The Enterprise.

HIGHWAY LIGHTING: The dimmer lighting on some stretches of Route 100 are part of an experiment by the State Highway Administration to see if it can save money without compromising safety, Benjamin Ford writes in the Gazette.

MVA: The Motor Vehicles Administration has embarked on several technological upgrades to improve and streamline service and is working to get people to use them, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

NOTEBOOK: The Reporters Notebook in the Gazette has items on Valentine's Day and Mike Miller's dog, Olympian Kimmie Meissner, bipartisan support for Medal of Honor winners, and abandoned refrigerators.

KOPP: Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar opines on State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, up for reelection to her post by the General Assembly next week.

OYSTER POACHERS: The General Assembly is considering bills to stiffen penalties for poaching oysters, reports The Capital’s Pamela Wood.

RURAL VS. URBAN: Tension between rural and urban legislators is nothing new, but a new website highlights "The War on Rural Maryland," Alan Brody and Sarah Breitenbach write in the Gazette.

PANHANDLING BAN: Montgomery County is considering a total ban on roadside panhandling, Erin Cunningham writes in the Gazette.

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