MarylandReporter.com: State Roundup Jan. 29, 2010 | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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MarylandReporter.com: State Roundup Jan. 29, 2010

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From the Maryland Reporter website:

Obama comes to Baltimore, governmental transparency gets a boost, and drunk drivers might get a scarlet letter on their bumpers. All of this and more in today's State Roundup.

President Barack Obama will extend an olive branch at a U.S. House Republican retreat in Baltimore today, Paul West reports in The Baltimore Sun. But it is unlikely to change GOP behavior, strategists say.

Some state lawmakers are pushing to require that repeat drunk driving offenders have special yellow license plates designating them as such, Annie Linskey writes in The Sun. Other legislators see the special plates as little more than a "scarlet letter."

Lawmakers continue their push for state governmental transparency with a bill requiring committee votes be posted online and meetings streamed on the Internet, Erin Julius reports in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail. The Senate has already approved a rule change Thursday requiring that committee votes be uploaded within 10 days. Dave Collins reports for WBAL-TV, as does Jeff Abell for WBFF.

Marcus Moore at The Gazette writes that private colleges and universities are due for a $22 million reduction in state aid under Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed budget.

Republican lawmakers accused Attorney General Doug Gansler of playing politics with the requested opinion on whether Maryland will honor same-sex marriages from other states, The Sun reports. Meanwhile, advocates squared off in the hearing for Delegate Emmett Burns' bill barring the marriages from being recognized. Dave Collins has the video report for WBAL-TV. MarylandReporter.com has a report today as well.

O'Malley's budget takes $20 million from the state's workers compensation fund, and business groups are complaining that the state should use the money to reduce insurance rates.

The National Council on Teacher Quality gave Maryland a D for its laws and regulations regarding teachers, Liz Bowie reports. This was the average grade for all states, and the highest grade was Florida's C minus.

Marcus Moore at The Gazette writes about friction among O'Malley, State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and lawmakers as the state considers whether to apply for $225 million in federal schools cash that is tied to reform.

Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich will announce in March whether he'll challenge O'Malley this November, Erin Cunningham writes in The Gazette.

Maryland received $60 million in federal stimulus money for rail projects, Ashley Halsey III reports in The Washington Post. The state will begin the improvement of a tunnel just west of Baltimore's Penn Station from the 1870s. Sean Sedam writes in The Gazette that the stimulus rail improvements will also be used to improve tracks near BWI Airport.

Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin is raising concerns about toxic contamination at the shuttered Rosewood Center mental health facility. Jennifer Bishop has the story in Baltimore Brew.

House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell is pushing a bill that would bar the use of state troopers as drivers for state officials. The only exceptions would be for the governor and lieutenant governor, Alan Brody reports in The Gazette.

Sen. Jim Robey's doing a super Polar Plunge today, wading into the Chesapeake Bay once every hour for 24 hours, Julie Bykowicz writes in The Sun's Maryland Politics blog. Check MarylandReporter.com for more on this later.

Robert Lang reports for WBAL-Radio on a loophole in the state's sex offender notification law, allowing offenders to go unnoticed in houses they own, but do not necessarily live in.

Doug Tallman at The Gazette has a followup on why the state hasn't been using tougher sex offender sentencing laws passed in 2007.

O'Malley's budget keeps most of his liberal priorities in place, Barry Rascovar writes in The Gazette, but it also does little to address looming deficits in future years.

Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed nine trial judges, including the son of Senate President Mike Miller, Andrea Siegel writes in The Sun. Thomas V. Miller III was previously nominated to an Anne Arundel County District Court, leading to three members of the county's nominating commission to resign in protest. John Wagner has more in The Washington Post's Maryland Politics blog.

Jay Hancock discusses the merits of hybrid and electric vehicles in his column for The Sun, in light of GM's announcement that they will expand the White Marsh plant to build electric motors.

Republican Del. Pat McDonough is calling for a hearing on Baltimore County's $138 million budget gap before the local House delegation, Bryan Sears writes for Patuxent.

Maryland's heavily-Democratic Congressional caucus liked President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, C. Benjamin Ford reports in The Gazette but Western Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett criticized it.

Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch has a lot of fun with a bill that would allow married couples to file for divorce if they are not getting their swerve on.

Sean Sedam writes in The Gazette about an effort to change the Maryland law that requires that funeral homes be operated by licensed morticians, or using one of a finite amount of corporate license.

Kenny Burns at Maryland Politics Today has audio of lawmakers weighing in on O'Malley's agenda.

There will be no new voting system for the state's 2010 election, despite a 2007 law that mandates just that, Kevin Spradlin reports in the Cumberland Times-News. Budgetary restrictions have made procuring impossible, state officials said.

The Red Maryland blog polled 74 people about whether they want to see casino-style table games, and most do.

Former U.S. Sen. Charles McCurdy Mathias Jr. will be remembered as a man who put principles before party, Doug Tallman and Margie Hyslop write in The Gazette. Blair Lee writes in his Gazette column about other significant Marylanders who died in 2009.

Allan Lichtman in The Gazette opines that Maryland should look to Oregon as a model for a budget solution.

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