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MarylandReporter.com: State Roundup Mar. 12, 2010

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From the Maryland Reporter website:

Today we have talk of a casino with table games in Prince George's County, budget cut decisions are coming, and lawmakers are angry with a House committee chairman's "rudeness."

BUDGET CUTS A Senate budget committee is preparing to make deep cuts to Gov. Martin O'Malley's fiscal 2011 budget, reflecting mounting concern about the growth of deficits and a wish to please voters who go to the polls in November, Annie Linskey writes for The Baltimore Sun.

CASINO Senate President Mike Miller has proposed a bill that would create a commercial license for a casino at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County, Hayley Peterson writes in The Washington Examiner. And other senators suggested expanding the bill to allow for more licenses elsewhere.

RUDENESS Women lawmakers protested to House Speaker Michael Busch Thursday about the way the House Judiciary Committee treats people who testify on sensitive crime legislation, Peter Hermann and Julie Bykowicz report for The Sun. They blame the committee's chairman, Joseph Vallario, who they argue sets a rude tone for the committee. Busch said he would arrange a meeting with Vallario and the female legislators to work through their issues. Alan Brody has the story for The Gazette.

STORMWATER COMPROMISE Sen. Paul Pinsky is opposing a compromise on new storm water regulations, going as far as to calling it "an abomination," writes Tom LoBianco for Center Maryland.

SLOTS REFERENDUM The Anne Arundel County Board of Elections said it has accepted over 19,000 signatures in a petition against slots at Arundel Mills mall, qualifying it to be put on the fall ballot as a referendum, Nicole Fuller reports for The Sun. John Wagner has the story in The Washington Post's Maryland Politics blog.

GREEN PENSIONS Delegates killed a measure Thursday that would have forced the state employee pension system to invest in "green" or life science ventures, Andy Rosen writes for MarylandReporter.com. Sean Sedam with The Gazette writes that the debate over the green investment bill gets at the underpinnings of the state pension system.

GUN LAWS David Collins has a roundup of bills aimed at tightening gun laws for WBAL-TV. Guns rights advocates cried conspiracy, claiming committee chairmen held hearings on the legislation at the same time to divide and conquer the opposition.

WAXTER CENTER The condition of the Thomas J.S. Waxter Center for female juvenile offenders is so bad that the facility has recently stopped accepting girls into its high-security program, Shauna Miller writes for Capital News Service.

SCHOOL BOARDS Lawmakers are considering the addition of elected members to school boards in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Liz Bowie and Julie Bykowicz report in The Sun. But the measure faces heavy opposition from local government and school officials.

CHILD SUPPORT An editorial in The Sun said the update to state child support guidelines is long overdue and necessary to ensure equity for parents.

FORECLOSURES Foreclosures in Maryland were on the rise in February, pushing the state's rate of default ahead of the national rate, Tucker Echols reports in the Baltimore Business Journal. Foreclosures rose to 5,732 last month, an increase of 9 percent from January, and an 80 percent increase from a year ago.

HOPE? Doug Tallman with The Gazette writes that people in Annapolis are looking for hope where they can find it this year. State revenues are "only" down $66 million for this year, and a Republican senator says he might support an increase in alcohol taxes.

EHRLICH A parody site launched by Maryland Democrats seeks to portray former governor and possible repeat candidate Bob Ehrlich as an "out-of-touch exile," Margie Hyslop writes for The Gazette. The Post’s blog has its own take on the fake Ehrlich site, including a comparison of some of the graphics on the page and on Ehrlich’s real site.

Blair Lee writes in his Gazette column that Ehrlich is making progress in the campaign even though he isn’t officially running. But Barry Rascovar writes in his column in The Gazette that Ehrlich may be getting himself into a battle he can’t win.

STORMWATER The state has released its guidance to local governments on how to implement new stormwater runoff regulations, according to the Maryland Association of Counties' Conduit Street blog.

STIMULUS SLOWDOWN Maryland businesses fear the day when federal stimulus money runs dry, Scott Dance writes for the Baltimore Business Journal. Although there is plenty of spending left in stimulus money, businesses are already anticipating laying off some of the staff hired to handle the increased business.

TRUANCY AGE A bill that would raise Maryland’s school dropout age from 15 to 17 is facing opposition from Republicans, who fear the measure’s cost is too high. Marcus Moore has the story for The Gazette.

CAMPAIGN SPARRING Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign manager is eager to take on former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, Larry Carson writes in The Sun.

NEGLIGENT DRIVING AAA is one of the backers of a bill that would make homicide by negligent driving a specific crime, Michael Dresser reports in his Getting There blog for The Sun.

HOSPITAL REGULATION Two hospitals that have separate emergency centers are pushing for state regulation so they can get federal aid, C. Benjamin Ford writes for The Gazette. But the state’s health cost review panel opposes the measure.

HOSPITAL BILLING The state’s largest health insurer is fighting a measure that would end its practice of billing customers differently if they are being treated by an out-of-network physician at an in-network facility, C. Benjamin Ford writes for The Gazette.

HEALTH CARE Health reform advocates write an op-ed in The Gazette that says Maryland’s health system does not cover enough people and is unsustainable.

BOND BILLS Even though times are tough, lawmakers have asked for $82 million in bond bills for local projects, well above the $15 million limit, Alan Brody reports for The Gazette. The requests will be pared down on Saturday.

MILLER Senate President Mike Miller will leave his chamber on Friday as senators vote on whether to confirm his son as a judge in Anne Arundel County, Doug Tallman and Sean Sedam write for The Gazette.

O'DONNELL House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell writes an op-ed in The Gazette about some mistakes he believes O’Malley has made in his policies to protect children.

VOTING MACHINES Gail Ewing writes in a Gazette op-ed that the state has put accountability on hold by delaying the purchase of voting machines that leave a paper trail.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING The House of Delegates approved a ban on reading text messages while driving Thursday, Annie Linskey reports in The Sun. Karen Parks reports for WBFF, and WMAR also has video.

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND? In light of the Maryland State Assessments being taken this week and next week, Megan Hughes of WYPR looks at the future of No Child Left Behind given the high stakes for area schools and the advent of President Obama's Race to the Top program.

ALCOHOL TAX Maryland's strong alcohol lobby is stopping any proposed increase in the alcohol tax, Aaron Davis writes for The Washington Post. House Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Sheila Hixson said herself that the tax would not increase.

IMMIGRANT INMATES Two bills sponsored by Washington County delegates would require jails to report the immigration status of inmates to federal authorities, Erin Julius writes in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail. But the Washington County Detention Center would not see a change, because it already does this.

BAG TAX Despite promises against new taxes, some lawmakers are in support of a bill that would place a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic bags, the Capital News Service reports. Revenues from the tax would go to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund.


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