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Maryland News Roundup

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From MarylandReporter.com:

ARUNDEL SLOTS Developer David Cordish plans to install slot machines on the ground floor of a proposed parking garage while the adjacent Arundel Mills mall casino that would be Maryland's largest is under construction next year, Annie Linskey and Nicole Fuller report for the Sun. The smaller facility would have 2,000 slot machines, writes John Wagner of the Post.

The Daily Record's Nick Sohr also writes about the project. View Kim Dacey's report for WBAL-TV.

B'MORE SLOTS The Maryland commission overseeing slot machine gaming could seek new proposals for a casino in Baltimore as early as February, more than two years after voters passed a referendum allowing slots in the state, writes Daniel Sernovitz for the Baltimore Business Journal.

MEDICAL OVERSIGHT Widespread lack of accountability may have led to millions of dollars wasted by the Medical Care Programs Administration of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, an audit has found, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com. Meredith Cohn has the story in the Sun.

STATE PENSIONS The commission examining changes to state retirement benefits put off any decisions until at least next week, but staff yesterday told the members that they couldn't alter employee cost-of-living adjustments – one of the largest areas for potential saving, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

They suggested giving employees an option of four new retirement plans, ranging from a cash balance plan with a guaranteed rate of return to a pension plan that requires greater employee contributions, Nick Sohr reports for the Daily Record.

Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner reports that Maryland counties would begin paying 50 percent of all teacher pension costs -- now paid for entirely by the state -- to the tune of $500 million in fiscal 2012 under a proposal the state's pension commission is reviewing this week.

And, Peterson reports, changes to the state's health insurance program would cost employees as much as $1,175 a year.

STEELE WANTS TO STAY In the face of overwhelming criticism about his stewardship of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, the party chairman and former Maryland lieutenant governor, declared last night that he has no intentions of quietly stepping aside and vowed to seek re-election to lead the party into the 2012 presidential campaign, Jeff Zeleny writes for the New York Times.

Steele told the RNC that his work isn't finished, WBAL-TV reports.

His decision means Republicans will be debating the record of its first African-American chairman next month at the moment the new GOP-controlled House is being sworn in, writes Paul West for the Sun.

34A DELEGATE Glen Glass has just hatched a plan to quit his job, move out of town with his dog and hire his buddy to come along for the ride. Watch out Annapolis, here comes the newest delegate-elect representing Harford/Cecil County’s District 34A and he's looking to shake things up in the Maryland General Assembly – even if he's not quite sure how, Brian Goodman reports for the Dagger.

AA SHORTFALL SHRINKS Erin Cox of the Annapolis Capital reports that four months ago, Anne Arundel County faced a massive $90 million budget shortfall. Last week, officials announced that the shortfall had shrunk to $30 million.

NONE IN HO CO Telling the Howard County Council that he does not expect the county to face a revenue shortfall this year, budget administrator Raymond Wacks said that mid-year cutbacks are not on the the table right now. "That doesn't mean that everything's fine," he added, reports Lindsey McPherson for the Columbia Flier.

NITKIN QUITS SUN Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has hired David Nitkin, a longtime Baltimore Sun reporter and editor, to lead the county's policy and legislative affairs, Scott Dance reports for the BBJ.

Nitkin's hiring is part of a shuffle of existing positions that affects three other current county officials, but creates no new positions, Larry Carson reports for the Sun.

BIG PG DONORS Campaign finance records show that companies owned or affiliated with the Langley Park liquor store owner charged last month in a federal corruption investigation contributed thousands to the campaigns of several Prince George's County elected officials in the last decade, Capital News Service's Michelle Nealy reports in the Daily Record.

PG COUNCIL ORIENTATION Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that the Prince George's Council, which has five new members, began two days of orientation for its newcomers, and anyone who might want a refresher.

GREEN FREDERICK A Frederick County commissioner questions the use of the Office of Sustainability, which says it save the county nearly $500,000 year by encouraging green practices, reports Katherine Heerbrandt of the Gazette.

MO CO APPEALS Alan Brody of the Gazette writes that Montgomery County officials appealed to state leaders to treat the state's most populous jurisdiction fairly in the upcoming legislative session that likely will center around balancing a projected $1.6 billion deficit for fiscal 2012 and a debate over how to pay for long-term pension obligations.

MO CO BUDGET The new head of the Montgomery County Council said yesterday that she wants to change a state law that sets minimum funding levels for schools, Michael Birnbaum reports for the Post.

Meanwhile, a Montgomery council panel rejected dozens of layoffs for public safety officials that County Executive Ike Leggett said were necessary to tackle a growing shortfall and offset revenue lost when voters killed the suburb's ambulance fee. Brian Hughes reports for the Washington Examiner.

KAMENETZ PICKS The Sun's Raven Hill reports that the Baltimore County Council won't be rushed on approving the top staff picks of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

MINKIN QUITS Thomas Minkin, chairman of the Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners, announced yesterday that he will resign — a contrast to previous statements indicating he would not step down, writes Steve Schuster of the Towson Times.

Bryan Sears of Patch.com writes that Minkin decided to resign to avoid placing another commissioner in a difficult situation.


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