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Thursday, February 25, 2010:

The Agenda

Same-sex marriage: the morning after

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Aaron.jpgAs early as Thursday, Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) may approach a House committee with articles of impeachment against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for Wednesday's opinion that Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages from elsewhere.

The effort is doomed, but if it gets a hearing on the House floor, that may be more than can be said this year for a bill that would go beyond Gansler's decision and legalize gay marriage outright in Maryland.

A bill introduced by Del. Benjamin S. Barnes (D-Prince George's) has 45 co-sponsors, including a majority on the House Judiciary Committee. But advocates say they would be surprised if committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario (D-Prince George's) allows the bill to pass out of committee and create an election-year spectacle over gay marriage on the House floor.

The likely fate of Barnes's bill and that of others suggests that for all the headlines over Gansler's opinion, the senior leadership of the General Assembly's Democratic majority lacks the political will or desire to take the same-sex marriage issue head on with elections looming in November.

That raises questions about how different the political climate could be a year from now, with returning lawmakers and potentially Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) insulated in the first of new four-year terms, should they win re-election.

Gay-rights advocates say that they hope the real battleground in Maryland for legalizing gay marriage will be in 2011. Dwyer said if he had his druthers, the decision would be put to directly to voters in 2010. Either way, the decision appears likely to remain a hot-button issue in Annapolis for both.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Northrop Grumman courting region's jurisdictions
Thumbnail image for McDonnel close up.jpgO'Malley closeup.jpg"Earlier this month, top executives from defense behemoth Northrop Grumman conducted the economic development version of speed dating," writes The Post's Rosalind S. Helderman and Aaron C. Davis. "In search of a new home for their corporate headquarters, the company's leaders first went to Richmond, where they were wooed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). Then they went to Annapolis for a rendezvous with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). Top company officials have also flirted with the District and met with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) before Christmas. They have made clear that Northrop won't be a cheap date, saying that tax incentives will factor into their decision, which they expect to make in the next few weeks."

Bill could mean last call for some liquor stores
Justin Ross.jpgPrince George's County "churches, neighborhoods and other groups may soon get the right to buy a liquor license just to keep it from being used," The Gazette's Daniel Valentine writes, about a bill sponsored by Del. Justin Ross (D-Prince George's). "The proposed legislation ... would let any group or individual buy one of the county's 187 liquor store licenses for the purpose of 'extinguishing' the permit for selling beer, wine or liquor. ... If passed, Prince George's County would be the first county in the state where residents could use their own money to gradually reduce the number of liquor stores, which often attract complaints of crime, loitering and other issues."

Slots petition fraud allegations referred to state prosecutor
Inside casino.jpg"The Anne Arundel County state's attorney has referred allegations of 'massive fraud' in a petition drive to block a slots casino to the Maryland state prosecutor," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The move follows the filing of a civil suit Tuesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court by Cordish Cos., which alleges the county elections board has overlooked problems with a petition drive seeking to derail the developer's plans to build a slots casino at Arundel Mills mall."

Dixon out of office but still talking up tenure
Dixon"Three weeks after resigning as mayor in a cloud of scandal, Sheila Dixon was back in the spotlight Wednesday night. Speaking at a panel discussion sponsored by the Investigative Voice web site, Dixon touted some of her pet causes -- gun control, the environment, prenatal care -- and the accomplishments of her regime," writes The Sun's Julie Scharper. "'Part of what I was attempting to do was to focus on those systemic issues,' said Dixon. 'So when we talk about cleaner greener healthier safer cities, it wasn't just buzz words.' "

Quotables

Riley mug.jpg"On Friday we will have a hearing on Medical Marijuanna in the, believe it or not, The Joint Hearing Room. This is a serious issue. I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation. Your thoughts."
-- Del. B. Daniel Riley (D-Harford), in a posting on his Facebook page

Rosapepe mug.jpg"This campus is underfunded ... and it's underfunded because there's never been a big enough organized effort to get a law passed that puts in place a regular funding formula."
-- Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George's), as quoted in The Diamondback speaking to a group of College Democrats at the University of Maryland's flagship campus

McCartney mug.jpg"This week's long-awaited federal hearing on Metro's sorry record of fatal accidents has raised a macabre question: How many more people will die before Metro and the Washington region get serious about instilling an effective culture of safety in the transit system?"
-- Post columnist Robert McCartney, in a column in which he argues that Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the region's other top leaders need to get more involved

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  February 25, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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