Thu September 12, 2013
Gun Purchase Background Checks, Vacant State Senate Seats, and Baltimore’s Curfew Proposal
Governor Martin O'Malley is pledging to end the huge backlog of background checks for Maryland gun buyers. O’Malley will soon fill two vacant State Senate seats. A proposal to impose earlier curfews on Baltimore teens draws criticism. Plus: Harbor Point, West Nile Virus, and more.
O’Malley Vows To Close Gun Background Check Backlog: Governor Martin O'Malley is pledging to end the huge backlog of background checks for Maryland gun buyers. O'Malley says the state is pulling together all possible resources to make sure tens of thousands of checks are conducted by October 1st. That's the date the state's strict new gun-control laws take effect – laws including a ban on certain guns classified as assault weapons, and a licensing requirement that will have handgun buyers submit their fingerprints to state police. There’s been an increase in gun purchases in Maryland this year – in part because of the passage of those laws – and the backlog for background checks has lengthened from its usual week to several months. The Baltimore Sun reports that the backlog has led to the release of guns to at least 41 people banned from owning them; this because gun dealers are legally allowed to release firearms to buyers if the state doesn't complete the background check in seven days.
O’Malley To Choose Between Hershey And Smigiel For District 36 Senate Seat: Governor Martin O'Malley will be choosing a new Republican State Senator to represent the seat left vacant when now-former Senator E. J. Pipkin resigned in August. The four GOP central committees in the 36th District were tasked with choosing a replacement… but they couldn’t reach a consensus. The committees from Kent and Caroline counties chose Delegate Steve Hershey, while the committees from Cecil and Queen Anne’s counties chose Delegate Michael Smigiel. Both Delegates lobbied the committees to change their votes and present only one nominee to the Governor, but to no avail. O’Malley is set to interview both Hershey and Smigiel today. The Baltimore Sun reports that he has two weeks to decide who will get the job.
O’Malley Likely To Appoint Feldman To District 15 Senate Seat: Governor O’Malley will also be filling another seat in the State Senate – the 15th District seat left vacant when now-former Senator Rob Garagiola stepped down in June. But here, only the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee had to weigh in, and it voted unanimously to nominate Delegate Brian Feldman. The Washington Post notes that the state constitution requires O’Malley to appoint Feldman to the job; he’s expected to do so shortly.
Curfew Proposal Criticized: A plan to impose earlier curfews for young people in Baltimore is drawing criticism. As the Baltimore Sun reports, civil liberties advocates and others say the curfew changes – proposed earlier this week – won’t likely cut down on crime. The legislation would require that kids younger than 14 years old be inside by 9pm; youths aged 14 to 16 could would have to be inside by 10pm on school nights and 11pm at other times. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is supportive of earlier curfew hours and so is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Another Shoe May Drop On Harbor Point Project: Tuesday’s vote in the Baltimore City Council may have cleared the way for what Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake calls the “opportunity of a generation” – the Harbor Point project. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments, in his weekly essay.
Rick Perry Tries To Lure MD Businesses To Texas: Texas Governor Rick Perry is targeting Maryland in an effort to lure companies and residents to the Lone Star State. It’s part of a series of ads that have run in several other states, including Missouri and New York. As the Washington Post reports, the ads running here criticize Governor Martin O'Malley and the state business climate, saying Maryland businesses and families are paying some of the nation's highest taxes. O'Malley is apparently unimpressed with Perry's ads, calling them a “tired old PR gimmick” and saying that Maryland is "doing just fine." The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley has also invited Perry to Maryland to see that for himself. And the Sun has a comparison of Maryland and Texas in many different categories here.
Mosquito Spraying In Anne Arundel: The state Department of Agriculture is spraying for mosquitos in Anne Arundel County – in an effort to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus.The disease is spread by mosquitos, and while most people who contract it show no symptoms, it can be fatal. Maryland has had 8 confirmed cases of West Nile virus this year… and the Anne Arundel Health Department says two of those cases were in people from Anne Arundel. Health officials say spraying for mosquitos could prevent future infections; they say the spray is safe for people and pets, but add that the best defense against West Nile virus is prevention… officials urge you to avoid areas of high mosquito activity, and get rid of standing water where the bugs breed. The Capital Gazette has more here.
Hunters Urged To Donate Extra Deer: Maryland’s archery season for white-tailed deer got underway last week. And the state Department of Natural Resources is urging hunters to donate any extra deer to the “Farmers and Hunters Feeding The Hungry” program – which, last year, donated over 600-thousand venison meals to local food banks In Frederick County, Commissioner Billy Shreve is echoing that call – Shreve says that it’s important that hunters thin the county’s herds of white-tailed deer, and notes that by donating deer to the program, they don’t have to worry about ending up with more deer meat than they can process or store. And they’ll be helping the needy. Shreve tells the Frederick News Post “We have an overabundance of deer and an overabundance of people who need food, so we should marry the two.”
Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles lost yesterday’s game with the New York Yankees… the score was 5 to 4. The O’s and the Yankees play again tonight; the game starts at 7:05pm at Camden Yards. It’s been a good year for the Orioles financially speaking. Sales of Orioles merchandise are up 89 percent this year… the Baltimore Business Journal reports that the increase is better than any of the franchises in Major League Baseball. More people are also seeing O’s games: there’s been a 15% increase in home game attendance, and television audience ratings were up 44 percent in August, when compared to last year.