State Roundup: Monday, Dec. 13 | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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State Roundup: Monday, Dec. 13

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From MarylandReporter.com:

STATE BUYOUTS Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to entice workers to leave state government will do some modest good — but it is only a small step in achieving a 'new normal,' opines the Sun's editorial board.

WORKER BENEFITS A state employees benefits commission will begin voting on how to resolve large unfunded liabilities in Maryland's pension and health benefit system for state workers, including a five-year freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. The commission also hopes to cut state health care costs by 10 percent, reports the Salisbury Daily Times.

BUDGET WOES State and local governments will have to face the fiscal music in crafting their budgets next year. Signals that elected officials are sending about their fiscal situations range from cautionary to grim, writes Donald Fry for Center Maryland.

MOUNTAIN SLOTS The Potomac Highlands Dispatch, a start-up news website for Allegany County headed by former Cumberland Times-News reporter Kevin Spradlin, reports that Western Maryland lawmakers are not hopeful that slot machines will ever go into Rocky Gap.

OCEAN SLOTS Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times follows up on last week's Ocean Down slots stories. She writes that although the casino isn't opening until Jan. 4, it's bringing about praise from some and concern from others.

ONE BODY? Salisbury Daily Times' editorial board ponders the idea of a unicameral Maryland legislature, writing that it deserves some talk and could promote efficiency and reduce state spending.

STEELE OUT? Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele intends to announce his reelection plans this evening, and key supporters expect him to drop out of the hotly contested race, Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin report for Politico.

But according to the Tribune's Washington bureau, Steele is not tipping his hand to his intentions. The New York Times also picks up the story.

MOONEY CHAIRS Outgoing Frederick County state Sen. Alex Mooney is the new chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, reports Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post.

He edged out Mary Kane, who ran for lieutenant governor this year. Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun. Here's Linskey's full coverage for the Sun.

The Post's John Wagner writes that Mooney was immediately sworn in, taking over a party that suffered lopsided defeats in statewide races last month but made gains at the county level in several regions.

And Sarah Breitenbach reports that former GOP chair Audrey Scott raised enough money to fill the state GOP's budget shortfall.

BLOW BY BLOW Mark Newgent of Red Maryland blogged throughout the state GOP Convention. A lot of it is very amusing. Be sure to click the links to Joe Steffen and Richard Cross's blogs.

GOP FUTURE The Sun had three op-ed columns about the future of the state Republican Party, one by Chrysovalantis Kefalas, another by Don Murphy, urging a return to an open primary, and a third by talk-show host Ron Smith, saying the GOP doesn’t have much a future here at all.

ROBO BOB Former candidate for governor Bob Ehrlich continues to evade questions about whether he knew anything about the election day voter suppression robocalls made on his behalf, Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV reports.

RUN FOR PREZ John Bolton, a Baltimore native who once served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, tells Kendel Ehrlich on WBAL-AM that he is considering a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

FUND RAISING Montgomery County Exec Ike Leggett and Prince George's County Exec Rushern Baker spent yesterday soliciting private funds for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post.

ANNAPOLIS TAXES The Annapolis Capital analyzed 11 Maryland cities and found that real estate taxes are lowest in Annapolis, writes Joshua Stewart.

HISTORIC ELECTION The first African-American to hold major elected office in the 344-year history of Somerset County becomes a county commissioner, reports Jonathan Pitts of the Sun. The Sun's Lloyd Fox offers a photo gallery of the swearing in.

CABINET VETTING Tomorrow, the new Baltimore County Council will begin interviewing the top picks for the cabinet of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Steve Schuster blogs for the Towson Times.

LITTLE GUY LOBBY Washington County residents took turns asking Maryland lawmakers to remember the “little guy” in January when the delegation heads to Annapolis, Kate Alexander reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

HARFORD REDISTRICTING The failure of the Democratic party to field candidates in the 2010 Harford County Council races could cost them a seat at the table when redistricting begins, Aaron Cahall reports for the Dagger.

LIQUOR BOARD OUT Following up on a story from last week, Ben Mook of the Daily Record reports that the investigation into allegations of price discrimination for sweetheart deals on wine and liquor made to some bars in and around Ocean City could lead to the abolition of Worcester County Liquor Board.

FREDERICK GOALS The new Frederick County Commissioners identified their priorities last week, including reducing the county's unemployment rate and creating a consistent land-use process for businesses, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

And the News-Post's Nicholas Stern writes that the commissioners will not welcome illegal aliens into the county.

WIND POWER The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA-FM heard from two sides of the debate on wind power, as Maryland moves closer to developing offshore wind turbines. Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Ajax Eastman, a long-time environmental activist and consultant, appear with Steiner.

WINE POWER Opinionators at the Frederick News Post take on Maryland's "asinine" wine laws and the powerful liquor lobby.

MARC HIKES Michael Dresser writes for the Sun that MARC riders and users of other transit services face a potentially significant increase in their commuting costs if a federal tax benefit program decreases --- as it now appears it will -- as of Jan. 1, an advocate for the commuter railroad's customers is warning.

SHA APOLOGIZES The State Highway Administration has apologized for applying the wrong mix of chemicals on the Beltway 10 days ago that did just the opposite of what it was trying to prevent: It created a slippery surface that caused at least 17 car accidents that sent several people to the hospital with minor injuries. Glynis Kazanjian reports for the Sentinel newspapers.

AGENCIES LIKE FACEBOOK Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com reports that a number of state agencies are finding there is a lot to "like" with their own Facebook pages.

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