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Afternoon Read: Maryland Voters Split on Same-Sex Marriage, Immigration RIghts

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Afternoon Read: Maryland Split on Key Issues

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A new poll found that Maryland voters are evenly split on two hot-button issues: Legalizing same-sex marriage and granting in-state college tuition prices to illegal immigrants.

Conducted by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, the poll found that 49 percent of Maryland voters support the legalization of same-sex marriages while 47 percent are against it.

Similarly, 48 percent of voters are in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to take advantage of in-state tuition while 49 percent are opposed to it.

The issue of same-sex marriage will go before the General Assembly this legislation session. Voters will decide on the issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants this year.

To read the entire poll results go to Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies' website and click on Latest Poll.

* Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley officially released his budget today and, as expected, he proposed tax hikes for high earners and shifted half the cost of teacher pensions from the state to the counties.

O’Malley defended the tax increases, saying it is “the fairest way” to help close the state’s $1 billion budget gap, The Washington Post reported.

“This is not an exercise in popularity, it’s not a matter of greasing the weathervane. It’s a matter of figuring out what are the best decisions that we can make on behalf of the families we serve,” O’Malley said at a State House news conference today.

If the budget is passed, individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $150,000 would be limited to smaller personal tax exemptions for themselves and their family members and would face caps on personal deductions.

According to the AP, O'Malley said 20 percent of residents will pay more taxes and a family with an income of $150,000 a year will receive about $191 less in tax breaks.

The governor said that one of the toughest parts of his budget was shifting half the costs of teacher pensions to the local level.

Much to the dismay of county governments, the pension change is expected to save the state an estimated $240 million.

* National Democrats tapped Virginia congressional candidate Paul Hirschbiel Wednesday as one of the party’s top challenger candidates this election cycle, The Washington Post reported.

The Virginia Beach businessman is running against freshman Rep. Scott Rigell (R).

Hirschbiel is among 18 candidates who the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named to the “Red to Blue” program -- a program that highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country and offers them financial, communications, grassroots and strategic support.

* A new Virginia coalition asked the state legislature today to not lift the state’s 30-year moratorium on mining uranium.

A number of safety and environmental concerns have been brought up about mining in Virginia, according to The Washington Times.

“As is usual, the devil’s in the details, and it’s details, or lack of details, that concerns me the most,” Delegate Donald W. Merricks, Pittsylvania Republican, said at a news conference. “We can’t take these things lightly. We’ve got to be sure.”

Merrick’s district, according to The Times, includes the Coles Hill site that contains a 119-million pound uranium deposit worth up to $10 billion.

Virginia Uranium Inc. is interested in tapping the site. Gov. McDonnell has not taken a stance on whether the ban should be lifted this session but says that safety is his top concern.

* In legal news, the District’s only representative in Congress -- Eleanor Holmes Norton -- is suing her government over a fender bender, Washington City Paper reports.

Her insurance company is asking the city to cough up $5,800 to cover repairs to her 2011 Ford Fusion after it collided into a speeding cop car running a red light.

But the suit may not be so simple. According to City Paper, Norton said she didn’t hear any sirens before the collision while the police report cites a witness saying the police car's lights and sirens were activated.

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