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From MarylandReporter.com:

BUDGET: Reporters are delving a bit more deeply into how Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget proposal affects their constituents:

COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: It could have been much, much worse. That was the sentiment that ran through the State House as O'Malley briefed counties officials, union leaders, environmentalists, teachers and lawmakers on his $34.2 billion state budget proposal for 2012, writes Annie Linskey for the Sun.

DBED GETS MORE: Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development will see an additional $5 million in funding.

MEDICAID GETS LESS: O'Malley proposed cutting the state's Medicaid payments to hospitals by $264 million — more than the medical community was expecting, Emily Mullin reports for the BBJ.

CLOSING THE GAP: Here's Scott Dance's BBJ piece on other ways O'Malley intends to close the $1.35 billion budget deficit.

TUITION HIKE: Tuition will likely increase 3 percent for the second year in a row as part of a broader effort to close a projected $1.35 billion state budget shortfall, but university and other state employees may avoid layoffs or furloughs, Yasmeen Abutaleb writes for the Diamondback.

CRITICS HIT BACK: Critics of the plan were quick to label the budget as fiscally irresponsible, writes the Washington Examiner's Hayley Peterson.

State workers unions intend to fight O'Malley's proposal to have workers pay more into their retirement funds, Aaron Davis and John Wagner report for the Post.

The governor's spending proposal takes some important steps to solving the state's long-term fiscal problems, but more needs to be done, writes the Sun's editorial board.

Red Maryland's Mark Newgent goes after O'Malley for his plan to cut Medicaid funding, calling it a tax increase.

NOT SO BAD IN BACO: Baltimore County, which, like others across the state, had been bracing for much worse news after the Democratic governor had warned last month of "a diet of steady cuts," will see a slight increase in funding, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

WACO CAPITAL PROJECTS: O'Malley's fiscal 2012 capital budget proposal includes at least a dozen projects in Washington County, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

HARFORD RESPONSE: Harford County Executive David Craig responded to O'Malley's budget in written form. He said he "was encouraged...to see small symbolic steps in the direction of realizing that there is room for consolidating and streamlining government without compromising the vital services our citizens have come to expect." Read the statement in the Dagger.

BUDGET BRIEFING: The third week of the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly begins this afternoon, writes Robert Lang of WBAL-AM, when two committees get a briefing on O'Malley's budget.

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GROWING JOBS: Hoping to spur jobs, innovation and economic growth, O'Malley wants to tap tax revenue to invest $100 million in fledgling technology, life sciences and other companies across the state. Gus Sentementes of the Sun reports that O'Malley plans to unveil details of the "Invest Maryland" program today.

IMMIGRANTS BLAMED: In a new report, the Federation for American Immigration Reform is blaming the overpopulation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and the resulting environmental destruction, on the influx of immigrants coming into the area, Abby Rogers reports for MarylandReporter.com.

JACOBS MINORITY LEADER: Maryland Senate Republicans chose Sen. Nancy Jacobs as minority leader —- just weeks after voting her out of the minority whip position, the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz reports. She is the first minority leader in Annapolis.

Jacobs replaces Sen. Allan Kittleman, who resigned last week, John Wagner reports for the Post.

BOOZE TAX: Retailers and wholesalers that sell distilled spirits in Maryland are, predictably, mounting a fierce opposition to the proposal to raise a taxes on booze, but lawmakers need to look at whether the tax does what proponents say it will do, writes the editorialists for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PERSONAL LEGISLATION: Julie Bykowicz of the Sun writes an in-depth piece about several state lawmakers whose personal lives have inspired them to write or support certain piece of legislation. Among them is a gay legislator, one who suffered from cancer and a naturalized citizen.

The majority leaders in both the Maryland House and Senate are acting as lead sponsors of bills this session allowing same-sex marriage, a symbolic move meant to underscore the momentum behind the legislation, writes John Wagner of the Post.

GAY MARRIAGE: The legislation that was introduced Friday would permit same-sex couples to marry but would not require churches to perform the ceremonies, Julie Bykowicz reports for the Sun.

Baltimore City Del. Keiffer Mitchell spoke to WBAL News a few weeks ago about his sponsorship of the same sex marriage bill.

COUNTING ILLEGALS: Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post reports that state lawmakers from Frederick County want to force its school system to conduct a count of students who might be illegal immigrants.

REDISTRICTING MANDATE: HB 50 is a proposal to require that, to the greatest extent practicable, when state legislative districts are redrawn, each of the state's 23 counties has at least one resident delegate, touts the Salisbury Daily Times editorial board.

ANNAPOLIS NOTES: Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail Rural offers briefs about rural health care and a committee switch in his Annapolis Notes.

LAUREL PURSES INCREASE: Laurel Park will increase its purses for non-stakes races by an average of $26,000 per day, a 16 percent increase from its winter meet, Rachel Bernstein reports for the Daily Record.

MERGER BENEFITS: Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that officials with the two companies said the merger of Allegheny Energy and FirstEnergy could lead to more charitable donations for the community as well as modest rate credits or reductions for Allegheny's customers and more backup for repairs after major outages.

Greene also profiles FirstEnergy, an Ohio-based company that has more diverse power-generating sources and more than three times as many employees as Allegheny Energy , serving 4.5 million customers.

GUN BAN: Annapolis bans firearms from state buildings. And gun control advocates note that lawmakers throughout the country seem eager to ban firearms from the buildings where they work but shy away from providing the same protection to the general public, the Sun's opinionmakers write.

RIGHT TO CARRY: In the meantime, Upper Eastern Shore Del. Michael Smigel believes that people who are allowed to carry concealed weapons in one state should be allowed to do so in Maryland. He talks to WBAL-AM about his concealed carry reciprocity bill.

CORRUPTION IN PG: Six weeks after taking office, Prince George's County Exec Rushern Baker talks openly about the need to battle the county's "pay to play" culture. The Post's Robert McCartney has the interview.

PG COUNCILWOMAN SUED: A Maryland woman is suing the chairwoman of the Prince George's County Council for $2.2 million over two unpaid loans taken out by her brother's development company, reports Alex Pappas of the Washington Examiner.

INDIE BARTLETT: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland may have an increasingly powerful role in the Republican controlled House, but he's still forging his own path, writes the Post's Ben Pershing.

NO TO PENSIONS: The Frederick County Commissioners made themselves ineligible for a county government pension last week, freeing up about $150,000 over the next four years for other uses, Patti Borda reports for the Frederick News Post.

BERNSTEIN DEFENDS SELF: An Associated Press story in the Salisbury Daily Times says that Baltimore's new state's attorney, Gregg Bernstein, says his decision to drop a felony assault charge against a member of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch group accused of attacking a black teenager was based on the evidence.

SHRIVER FUNERAL: Vice President Joe Biden and a former president, Bill Clinton, were among hundreds who gathered in Potomac to remember Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver at his funeral service on Saturday, Cody Calamaio reports for the Gazette.

Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2011/01/24/state-roundup-january-24-2011/#ixzz1ByaafmFr Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

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