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From MarylandReporter.com:

FRUGAL FUTURE Looking forward to 2011: Among many things, the General Assembly and governor grapple with the deficit, the Sun's editorial board writes. Opinionators at the Annapolis Capital say it's important to only spend on what is needed, not what is wanted.

TOUGH CHOICES The gaping budget hole awaits Gov. Martin O'Malley and Maryland lawmakers when they return to Annapolis this month. But even after three years of recession-driven trimming, now amplified by the evaporation of federal stimulus aid, officials have the political capital this year to make unpopular choices, Julie Bykowicz writes for the Sun.

FEDERAL FRUGALITY The Post's Dion Haynes writes that talk in Washington of pulling in the reins on federal spending will affect job growth in suburban Maryland and Virginia, where most federal workers live and work.

RNC BUDGET HOLE Ralph Hallow of the Washington Times reports that as former Maryland LG Michael Steele attempts to hold on to the Republican National Committee chairmanship and as the RNC gears up for the 2012 election cycle, the RNC is $20 million in the hole.

MOONEY'S FUTURE The Post's John Wagner reports that in the weeks since the staunch conservative Alex Mooney was embraced to lead the Maryland GOP, his vision to reinvigorate the party largely has been eclipsed by talk of his possible run for U.S. Congress.

ABORTION LAW The case of a New Jersey doctor found to be illegally providing abortions in Maryland is prompting state lawmakers and regulators to consider toughening requirements for abortion providers in the state, Yeganeh June Torbati reports for the Sun.

INSURANCE EXCHANGE Although most Marylanders won't feel the impact of federal health care reform for a few years, the General Assembly likely will begin designing a plan for a public insurance exchange during the upcoming session, reports Sarah Breitenbach of the Gazette.

BIZ GRANTS Legislation to finance business grants through tax credits will be proposed in Annapolis this year, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

'LOCAL' FOOD The state may require sellers to list origins when advertising food as 'local,' writes Carrie Ann Knauer of the Carroll County Times.

OCEAN DOWNS Casino at Ocean Downs will open tomorrow morning, making the Worcester County slots parlor the second in Maryland, Nick Sohr reports for the Daily Record.

CASINO WORK OK'D Anne Arundel County granted the Cordish Cos. approval late last week to start work on its planned $500 million Maryland Live! casino near Arundel Mills mall, Daniel Sernovitz reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. It clears the way for the company to seek additional permits for grading and building construction, putting the casino on track for an initial opening in late 2011 and for completion a year later.

The Daily Record's Nick Sohr reports that the site plan calls for some roads to be widened, traffic signals changed and other infrastructure improvements.

Sohr also writes that while Maryland can't get slots fast enough, Pennsylvania is seeking to reduce their number.

ARUNDEL FREEZE Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold unveiled his administration's fifth hiring freeze, effective Jan. 1, aimed at battling a difficult budget. It is intended to save between $2 million and $2.5 million, reports Ryan Sharrow for the BBJ. Erin Cox of the Annapolis Capital writes that these frozen jobs have become the new normal.

STOREFRONT FIGHT A 158-year-old landmark pinning State Circle to Maryland Avenue has sat vacant for nearly three years, but the storefront is still giving window-shoppers an eyeful. The owner is waging a one-man battle against the City of Annapolis over its building code, which he believes conflicts with state regulations, Elisha Sauers reports for the Annapolis Capital.

ALSOBROOKS REORGANIZE Prince George's County's new top prosecutor, Angela Alsobrooks, who will be sworn in today, plans a reorganization of the office, which has 70 prosecutors and dozens of support staffers. And she plans to initiate "community prosecutions" by assigning prosecutors to each of the county's five police districts, reports Ruben Castaneda for the Post.

JUSTICE DEBATE Writing for the Urbanite, Michael Corbin says that Gregg Bernstein, Baltimore's new state's attorney, stands at the center of the national debate over criminal justice and alternatives to prison.

VIOLENT CRIME FOCUS: As Frederick County prosecutor Charlie Smith heads into his second term, he focuses on violent crime, spurred by gangs and troubled youth, Kate Leckie reports for the Frederick News Post.

FREDERICK SAVINGS Frederick County government is looking toward privatization and outsourcing to save money, reports Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette.

YOUNG LEARNING Sen.-elect Ron Young, the former Frederick mayor who will be heading to the Maryland General Assembly, is ready to learn the ropes. "As a freshman, I think you've got a little bit of an obligation to listen and learn," he told Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post.

ANTI-ILLEGALS FOCUS Meg Tully of the News Post also writes that Del.-elect Kelly Schulz of Frederick County will arrive in Annapolis with a litany of anti-immigration ideas, including a bill to make sure illegal immigrants can't access state tuition programs or other education subsidies.

GUN CARRYING The Frederick County Commissioners are asking its state legislative delegation to support a change in law that would give the Frederick sheriff the authority to issue gun carry permits instead of the Maryland State Police, Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post reports.

CHARITABLE GAMING Among bills going to the General Assembly from the Carroll County delegation is one that will allow charitable organizations to hold casino nights and card tournaments. This bill has failed in the past, Christian Alexandersen writes for the Carroll County Times.

SHORE BILLS Bills to extend a commercial waterfront tax credit and increase solid waste fees on Smith Island are among the pieces of Somerset County related legislation expected to be introduced in the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, reports Liz Holland for the Salisbury Daily Times.

JOHNSON MONITOR Former Prince George's County Exec Jack Johnson is no longer wearing an electronic monitor, according to an Associated Press report in the Daily Record.

WASHINGTON CO. CHUCKLES Tim Rowland of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reviews 2010 and the laughs that kept coming from Washington County politicians and events.

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