Opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law officially launched their petition drive Wednesday to try and trigger a referendum.
If they can gather 55,736 valid signatures from Maryland voters by the end of June, the gay marriage law will be put on hold and voters will decide its fate at the voting polls in November.
“The General Assembly and the governor do not have the final word on marriage in Maryland,” said Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group leading the petition effort. “The people do.”
While the opponents will likely succeed in getting the measure on the ballot, recent polls indicate that Maryland voters are largely in favor of same-sex marriages.
A Washington Post poll conducted in January found that 50 percent of Marylanders supported same-sex marriage, while 44 percent opposed it.
* Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement speech at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, Va., June 14, the White House announced Wednesday.
A key swing-state in the upcoming election, the Obama campaign has been campaigning heavily in Virginia.
The vice president also will give commencement addresses at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla., and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
* D.C. Councilman Marion Barry has received almost 150 campaign donations since Feb. 1, but the majority of those donations do not come from people residing in the ward he represents, according to The Washington Times.
The Times reports that 27 of the 144 recent contributions to his campaign come from Ward 8, and only seven of those are from individuals rather than businesses or corporations.
Barry explained this issue by arguing that many of his constituents in Ward 8 don’t have excess income and don’t think that he needs their financial help.
“They say, ‘You got this, you don’t need any money,” Barry told The Washington Times.
The latest released campaign finance reports show that Barry has both out-raised and out-spent his four Democratic opponents. But the $7,473 he had in his campaign pockets was less than opponent Jacque Patterson, who had $9,515.
* A bill that would ban people from smoking in vehicles with passengers younger 8 years old in them officially passed through the Maryland Senate Wednesday with a 27 to 19 vote.
The bill would allow police to pull over violators and slap with them with a $50 fine.
Proponents of the bill thought it was a necessary measure to protect children from second-hand smoking while the bill’s opponents said it could have a slippery-slope effect and lead to government bans on other private activities.
The bill is now headed to the House of Delegates.
* The U.S. Senate today passed the first federal safety standards for public transit agencies.
The bill was prompted by the 2009 crash near the Fort Totten Metro stop and would allow the secretary of transportation to set up safety standards based on recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, The Washington Examiner reported.
Currently, the safety board can make recommendations but does not have the power to enact the changes.
VIA The Examiner:
“The Senate’s passage of this legislation is an important step in ensuring Metro is safe for the people who work on it and the people who ride on it,” said a key booster for it, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. “We have federal safety standards for planes, trains and automobiles. We need them for transit systems like Washington’s Metro.”
The measure is part of a larger transportation bill that the House still has to pass.
* The Washington Post listed Metro’s top paid executives Tuesday, determining that the top executives took home a combined salary of more than $3.1 million in 2011.
General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles made the most at $350,000.
* State officials reported today that Virginia’s revenue collections increased more than 17 percent in February.
The report states that February saw an extra boost due to extra deposit day because of leap year and post-holiday sales that exceeded the forecast.
The month also saw an increase in collections of net individual income tax and sales tax.
But in a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell, Richard Brown, the state’s secretary of finance, warned that February isn’t the best indicator of things to come:
Total general fund revenue collections rose 17.2 percent in February. However, February is not generally a significant month for revenue collections. In addition, since February has the fewest days for net collections, small changes in receipts can cause large distortions in growth rates. This February had an extra deposit day due to leap year. Typically, February would have only four Wednesdays, this year February had five. Wednesday is usually the largest payroll withholding day of the week. This calendar effect will wash out in March as there will be one less deposit day. Also contributing to February’s monthly growth were strong post-holiday sales.