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MarylandReporter.com: State Roundup April 19, 2010

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From the Maryland Reporter website:

Maryland gets good news on jobs, Gov. Martin O'Malley is set to kick off his re-election bid, and the state is looking for federal stimulus help for its schools. All this and more in our weekend State Roundup.

JOBS REPORT Maryland added 35,800 jobs in March, which was the largest gain in the nation. Jamie Smith Hopkins at The Baltimore Sun writes that the magnitude of the jump may have been related to recovery from February's massive snowstorms.

The good news made for good politicking, as John Wagner reports in The Washington Post. Gov. Martin O'Malley trumpeted the jobs report as an indication that the state's economy is getting back on track. But V. Dion Haynes with the Post points out that Maryland's unemployment rate stayed the same, at 7.7 percent, as more unemployed people resumed their job searches.

RE-ELECTION O'Malley will officially launch his re-election campaign April 27, according to The Associated Press.

LEVY Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com starts a series of interviews with retiring lawmakers by talking to Del. Murray Levy of Charles County. The respected budget leader says he can understand why tough decisions were put off during an election year, but is calling for action soon on state pensions.

BOAST Arthur Hirsch in The Sun writes that supporters of a tax credit to help private schools are upset about the way lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee handled the failed proposal. They say they'll be back to try again next year for the fourth consecutive session.

SOLAR New tax incentives for businesses that use renewable energy sources such as solar panels could help offset the costs of a recently-passed state program to accelerate solar energy mandates, experts say. Nick DiMarco has the story for MarylandReporter.com.

INTERLOCK Michael Dresser uses his "Getting There" column in The Sun to criticize House Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Vallario for killing a bill to require ignition interlock devices for drunk driving convicts.

RACE TO THE TOP Maryland is trying to make a case for federal stimulus aid to its schools by more closely tracking student achievement growth to teacher performance, Nick Anderson writes for The Post. Montgomery County schools Superintendent Jerry Weast writes an op-ed in The Sun describing why his system has some questions about how it would be affected.

The Sun's editorial page says the reforms didn't go far enough, in a wrap of the ten best and ten worst things about the General Assembly session. The top positive development: new sex offender laws.

INTEREST GROUPS In our weekly podcast, Maryland politics reporter Tom LoBianco joins MarylandReporter.com staffers Andy Rosen and Nick DiMarco to discuss how special interest groups - environmentalists, labor and the liquor lobby - fared during the 2010 General Assembly session.

GUN LAWS Peter Hermann in The Sun describes how time ran out in the General Assembly on a bill designed to toughen state gun laws. The measure was enthusiastically backed by the Baltimore Police Department.

UNIVERSITY GROWTH Maryland's public universities are expected to grow enrollment by 19 percent over the next decade, Andrew Katz writes for Capital News Service.

MONTGOMERY SWAY Adam Pagnucco writes for Maryland Politics Watch that he doesn't expect Montgomery County to hold much sway over O'Malley and challenger Bob Ehrlich during this year's campaign.

BILL COUNT Erin Julius at The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail compares local lawmakers' success in getting bills passed. Sen. Don Munson had the most successful record, but his primary challenger, House Minority Whip Chris Shank, who got no bills passed, says it's not quantity, but quality that matters.


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