Mikulski Backs Reduced Border Funding Measure, MD Gun Law Goes To Court, & Trash-Fighting Initiative

Jul 23, 2014

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr

US Senator Barbara Mikulski plans to introduce a reduced border funding measure today. Attorneys have presented arguments in federal court in Baltimore on Maryland's ban of high-capacity magazines and 45 gun types classified as “assault weapons”. Baltimore City and Baltimore County working together to fight a common enemy: trash. And much more.

Mikulski Backs Reduced Border Funding Measure: US Senator Barbara Mikulski plans to introduce a reduced border funding measure today. The proposed emergency spending bill cuts $1-billion from the $3.7-billion originally requested by President Obama to deal with the influx of children from Central America who are crossing the US/Mexico border. Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, says not all of the money is needed in the current year. The Baltimore Sun reports that Mikulski and her fellow Senate Democrats are hoping that the smaller request will allow the plan to win support from some Republicans.

O'Malley Trying To Thread The Needle On Border Crisis: WYPR's Fraser Smith and John Wagner of the Washington Post talk about Governor Martin O'Malley's (and local faith leaders') efforts to find a suitable place in Maryland for some of the immigrant children now at the border, and why the task has been so difficult. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

MD Gun Law Goes To Court: Attorneys have presented arguments in federal court in Baltimore on Maryland's ban of high-capacity magazines and 45 gun types classified as “assault weapons”. The ban was part of a package of legislation strengthening Maryland’s gun laws, passed by the General Assembly last year. The state says the ban is a reasonable public safety enhancement. But gun rights advocates -- who brought the case -- say the banned weapons and magazines are protected by the second amendment. They argue that Maryland’s gun law will do little to curtail gun crimes, and say it prohibits law-abiding citizens’ access to commonly-owned sporting weapons. The Baltimore Sun has more here; there’s more here from the Daily Record.

Beretta USA Leaving MD: Maryland’s gun law is prompting a gun maker to move out of the state. Firearms maker Beretta USA says it is moving its gun manufacturing operation from Prince George's County to a new production facility it is planning near Nashville, Tennessee. Beretta says its decision to relocate to Tennessee stems from the possibility of even more restrictive laws that would prohibit the manufacturing of guns in Maryland. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Beretta’s relocation will cost the state 160 jobs. The move is expected to take place in 2015. The Daily Record has more.

Baltimore City, County Team Up To Get Rid Of Litter: Baltimore City and Baltimore County working together to fight a common enemy: trash. The two jurisdictions share many waterways… and the City and the County are finding ways to get trash out of their streams and rivers before it washes into the Chesapeake Bay. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns looks at what is being done to get rid of the litter.

MD Falls To #12 For Children’s Wellbeing In Annie E. Casey Report: Maryland is losing ground it comes to the overall well-being of children in the state. The annual Kids Count report from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Maryland 12th in the nation, a drop of two spots from last year when the state was tenth. The study ranks states based on economics, education, health and family and community.

Cardin Pushes For Felons’ Voting Rights Reinstatement: US Senator Ben Cardin is calling for federal legislation that would allow millions of Americans with felony convictions to regain the right to vote. The Maryland Democrat is teaming up with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to call for a restoration of voting rights for felons who have served their sentences. The Baltimore Sun notes that states have different policies for when – and if – felons are permitted to vote. In three states, felons’ voting rights are permanently revoked; in others, felons can vote by absentee ballot while they’re still in jail. In Maryland – as in 20 other states -- people with felony convictions regain their right to vote after they’ve served their terms, including parole and probation. Cardin’s bill would make that the national standard. Senator Paul’s bill would restore voting rights only for people convicted of non-violent crimes.

Baltimore’s Bond Rating: Baltimore’s financial situation is improving… and it could improve even more, now that Standard & Poor’s has raised the city’s bond rating to AA. That’s up a step from the AA-minus rating it’s held since 2007. The higher bond rating means that Baltimore will be able to score lower interest rates on loans, thereby saving taxpayers' money. Baltimore’s bond rating is still below that of the Maryland’s triple-A – which is the same rating held by of Baltimore County, Carroll County, and other Maryland jurisdictions. But the Baltimore Sun notes that the city’s bond rating his higher than many other cities with similar demographics and wealth.

Cove Point: Today, Maryland’s Board of Public Works will take up a request to approve permits for a temporary pier near the Cove Point liquefied natural gas facility in Calvert County. The Daily Record reports that Virginia-based Dominion Resources is looking to convert the import facility into an export facility. Opponents of the plan are calling on the state to delay the approval of a wetlands permit until a full study on the facility’s safety can be conducted; similar studies were conducted in 2007 for a LNG facility proposed for Sparrows Point and an expansion of the Cove Point facility in 2006. Even if the Board of Public Works approves the permits, it couldn’t be built until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grants final approval to the project – that’s expected to happen later this year.

Coast Guard Fields Hoax Distress Calls: The Coast Guard in Maryland is dealing with a number of hoax distress calls made on the Chesapeake Bay. The bogus calls include eleven of them on June 21st in the Leonardtown area and another on July 3rd from Seneca Creek. Coast Guard officials say responding to the hoaxes cost them at least $15-thousand and put other boaters at risk. Making a false distress call is a felony that carries a maximum of six years in prison and a fine of up to $250-thousand. There’s more online here from The Bay Net; there’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.

Hamdenfest Back On: The recently cancelled Hampdenfest has apparently been rescheduled. The September 13th festival had to be scrapped due to a conflict with the Sailabration and Star Spangled Banner Anniversary events. The Baltimore Sun reports that an official announcement is expected today regarding the festival, which is now on for September 20th. Hampenfest organizers said last week that rescheduling the festival would depend on getting vendors to commit to a new date and whether the city could provide security, equipment and manpower. The Daily Record has more.

Shark Spotted At Sandy Point State Park: A swimming area at Sandy Point State Park was briefly closed this week after a bull shark was spotted nearby. The Baltimore Sun reports that a fisherman saw the small shark on Monday afternoon near the east beach, so park personnel moved swimmers to the lifeguard-monitored beach in another part of the park. But there was no sign of the shark yesterday, so it was back to business as usual for park visitors. 

New Downtown Light Show Unveiled: HarborView Towers condominiums have unveiled a new light show in downtown Baltimore. The show premiered last night; it features colored LEDs on a beacon that can be seen across the city and from I-95. Organizers say they will have special light shows for New Year's, Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July, Christmas and other days of note. There will also be special light displays when the Ravens and Orioles win. WJZ has more.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles took down the LA Angels 4 to 2 in last night’s game. The O’s and the Angels conclude their series tonight.

Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies yesterday; the score was 7 to 4.

Baltimore Football: The Ravens are set to open training camp in Owings Mills. The team will hold its first official practice tomorrow. There are three other practices open to the public.