Wed August 13, 2014
Record-Setting Rain, MD Gun Law Ruled Constitutional, Cove Point, & Rawlings-Blake’s First Veto
6.3-inches of rain were recorded at BWI yesterday, the most rain ever recorded on an August 12th. A federal judge says the strict gun law that Maryland’s General Assembly passed last year is constitutional. A Circuit Court judge’s decision to strike down an ordinance exempting plans for a LNG export terminal at Cove Point from zoning regulations may or may not affect that project’s construction. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has issued her first veto. And more…
Record-Setting Rain: Maryland is drying out today after yesterday’s record-setting rainfall. Heavy flooding and road closures came as 6.3-inches of rain were recorded at BWI airport yesterday, the most rain ever recorded on an August 12th. Yesterday's rainfall puts the state nearly a foot above average for precipitation this year. The rainy weather contributed to sanitary sewer overflows into the Jones Falls and Patapsco. The Baltimore Department of Public Works believes that both overflows were due to the heavy volume of rain infiltrating the sewer system. The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Baltimore City Health Department were notified about the overflows. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Gun Law Upheld: A federal judge says the strict gun law that Maryland’s General Assembly passed last year is constitutional. Two aspects of that law had faced a court challenge by gun owners and gun rights advocates: a ban on 45 guns classified as “assault weapons” as well as ban on magazines that can hold more than ten rounds. The groups that brought the suit said those bans violated Second Amendment rights. But yesterday, Judge Catherine Blake found against those arguments argument. In ruling that the weapons can be banned, Judge Blake wrote "the evidence demonstrates that assault weapons have several military-style features making them especially dangerous to law enforcement and civilians." Gun rights activists say that they will continue to fight the law in court. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Cove Point: The future of a planned liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in Calvert County could be in doubt. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly reports that earlier this week, a Circuit Court judge struck down an ordinance that exempted the proposed facility from the county’s zoning regulations. The ruling said county officials violated Maryland’s constitution by treating Virginia-based energy company Dominion differently from other property owners. It’s unclear how – or if – the decision will affect plans for the $3.8-billion project. The judge says the ruling “has no direct bearing on whether the facility will be built.” And a spokesperson for Dominion says construction is still expected to start before the end of the year, assuming it receives a necessary approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But the director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network tells the Baltimore Sun that he does expect the ruling will mean a delay for construction.
Kamenetz' Unusual Step Into School Territory: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Liz Bowie of the Baltimore Sun talk about Kevin Kamenetz' rejection of the Baltimore County school system's plan for expansion, a rare step for a county executive. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Republicans Question O’Malley Administration On Immigrant Issue: Republicans from the House of Delegates are asking questions about healthcare, shelter, schools and costs associated with unaccompanied migrant children coming into the state. The House GOP caucus has sent a letter to Governor Martin O'Malley asking how the state would deal with the influx. Administration officials say they will respond to the questions, but may refer some to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Federal Investigation Of Johns Hopkins Over Sexual Assault Allegation: The federal government is launching an investigation into Johns Hopkins University's handling of an alleged rape at a fraternity house. In May, a group of students filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, accusing Hopkins of failing to properly disclose the reported rape, in violation of federal statutes that stipulate how crimes such as sexual assault should be handled by universities and reported to the public. University president Ronald Daniels is pledging full cooperation in the investigation. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Daily Record.
Rawlings-Blake Issues First Veto: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has issued the first veto of her tenure. The Baltimore Sun reports that the mayor killed a piece of legislation that could have led to a reduction in fees that the city charges businesses for making improvements to their properties. The so-called “minor privilege fees” bring in about $2.7-million a year. The bill the Mayor vetoed would not have immediately reduced the fees… instead, it would have allowed voters to shift control of the fees from the Mayor’s office to the City Council. Through a spokesperson, the Mayor said that would have allowed council members to “carve out little niche policies for their districts.” She calls that bad policy, and says that the city is planning to eliminate many of the fees anyway, within the next couple months.
Baltimore Schools Still Need Teachers: The first day of school in Baltimore City is less than two weeks away, on August 25th… and the city’s school system still needs to hire more teachers. The Baltimore Sun reports that the city currently has 211 teacher vacancies – a far larger number than in other Central Maryland school districts. Baltimore County, for example, has just 32 teacher vacancies. The city is most in need of teachers in the math, science, and special education fields.
Seatbelt Usership Up In Frederick County: More Frederick County motorists are remembering to buckle up. A newly released survey by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration shows that 90.5% of Frederick County drivers and front seat passengers are using their seatbelts. The Frederick News Post reports that’s up a little more than half a percent from the year before.
US 50 Repaving: Vacationers will have a smoother ride to the beach – by the NEXT vacation season. State Highway crews are beginning a $10-million repaving effort on U.S. 50 this week that will put a fresh layer of asphalt along 14 miles of the highway from Queenstown to Wye Mills and from Trappe to Easton. Lane closures can be expected between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., primarily during the week. Construction should be complete by year's end.
Baltimore Baseball: Yesterday's scheduled game between the New York Yankees and Orioles at was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Friday, September 12th. The teams will close out their current series today; first pitch is set for 7:05pm.
Washington Baseball: the Washington Nationals did play the New York Mets yesterday, and the Nationals won… the score was 7 to 1.
Baltimore Football Buying a ticket to a Ravens' game through the secondary marketplace can be quite costly. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, a new survey from Vivid Seats ranks Ravens home game tickets as the 13th most expensive on the secondary market in the NFL. The website says the Week 2 game between the Ravens and Steelers is the costliest, with seats selling for an average of 283-dollars.