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OPTIMISM FOR O'MALLEY The Post's John Wagner writes that — coming off one of the most decisive reelections of any Democratic governor in the United States — Gov. Martin O'Malley was sworn in to a second term that could be as crucial in shaping his political ambitions as the state's future.

The governor talked about the future promise in Maryland of growing jobs, improving learning, restoring the Chesapeake Bay and reducing crime, the Gazette's Alan Brody reports.

Nick Sohr of the Daily Record said the speech came two days before O'Malley is due to unveil a budget that contains about $4 billion less spending than the state had anticipated it would at the beginning of O'Malley's first term.

O'Malley moved forward, a dozen times, in his thankfully brief inaugural speech, blogs Len Lazarick for The Sun's Annie Linskey writes that a festive mood engulfed the capital and the House and Senate met in a rare joint session to certify the results of November's gubernatorial election.

The sun was shining and the ice of past days had melted, giving the official start of O'Malley's second term a blue sky and clear roads, writes the Annapolis Capital's Liam Farrell.

"We have a long way to go," O'Malley said at a scaled-back ceremony reflecting what organizers said was the state's difficult budget straits, the Associated Press's Brian Witte reports in the Washington Times.

O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown were officially sworn in at about noon in the Senate chamber before both the Senate and the House of Delegates, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

Frederick County state lawmakers helped welcome O'Malley to his second term in office, but said that once the ceremony is over it will be time for everyone to get to work, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

January temperatures in the 40s brought out signs of something not much in evidence in the state capital recently: optimism, opines the Sun's editorial board.

DAY IN PICTURES Here's a photo gallery of O'Malley's inaugural from

The Washington Post photo gallery includes a shot of O'Malley picking up trash before the festivities.

The Sun's photo gallery from the day's events starts with the latest, last night's scaled down inaugural celebration at the armory in Baltimore city.

The Capital was taking pictures as well.

AND VIDEO Here's full coverage of O'Malley's speech from WBAL-TV. WBFF-TV's John Rydell was there as well. Also from the Daily Record. And from the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

STATE WORKER CONTRACT The O'Malley administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have agreed on a three-year contract that would turn furloughs into paid days off, give employees a $750 bonus, and schedule raises and cost-of-living adjustments. Megan Poinski writes in

HARRIS HEALTH REPEAL Less than two weeks before he gets his own government health care insurance, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris voted yesterday to repeal the health care reform law that was enacted to insure 32 million people who aren't insured now, writes Gannett Washington bureau reporter Nicole Gaudiano in the Salisbury Daily Times.

FIERY PACKAGES LINKED The FBI says initial forensic tests have linked the three fiery packages sent to federal and Maryland government officials earlier this month, according to an Associated Press article in the Capital.

DHR OUT $10 MILLION The federal government will not pay the state Department of Human Resources $10 million because DHR did not have a process to document that the children it served were in imminent risk of entering foster care, writes Liz Kay for the Sun.

TOWARD EQUAL RIGHTS Regardless of whether state Sen. Allan Kittleman – who just resigned as minority leader – introduces gay rights legislation this year, he has made an important contribution toward equal rights, writes the Sun's editorial board.

KITTLEMAN'S FUTURE Red Maryland's Mark Newgent says both he and former GOP speech writer Richard Cross think Kittleman is considering a run for governor. Here's the link to Cross's blog.

CASINO FIXES Operators of Maryland's first casino said they will be working with legislators in Annapolis to fix problems that they say have depressed revenue, including having longer hours, Rachel Bernstein reports for the Daily Record.

SLOTS FOR VETS The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that since slots are now legal in Maryland, veterans organizations should be allowed to have them as well.

GUN LAWS A gun rights advocate has asked the Frederick County delegation of state lawmakers to expand a right-to-carry proposal to include other jurisdictions, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

MERGER OK'D The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved the proposed merger of FirstEnergy and Allegheny Energy with 20 conditions, leaving the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission as the sole regulatory hurdle to the merger, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

AMBULANCE FEE It has been more than two months since Montgomery County voters resoundingly killed the suburb's ambulance fee, but those in County Executive Ike Leggett's administration haven't stop talking about their signature issue, Brian Hughes reports for the Washington Examiner.

CLEANING HOUSE IN PG New Prince George's County Exec Rushern Baker has already shown some of the decisiveness he will need to restore trust in the integrity of government through the wholesale housecleaning he conducted within hours of being sworn in, writes the Sun's editorial board.

ROLLEY BUCKS Former city planning director Otis Rolley has raised $129,500 toward his bid for mayor, a fraction of the more than $800,000 Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has on hand, blogs the Sun's Julie Scharper.

BOND BILLS Howard County's state legislators put off voting on higher hotel taxes and slots for veterans groups, but approved liquor tasting and all but one request for state bond money yesterday, Larry Carson reports for the Sun.

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