State Roundup, October 16, 2009

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We’d rather be writing the news than making it, but The Gazette Friday goes into the ongoing discussion about’s presence in the State House press room. The article poses a question about the role online media should play in the Annapolis press corps.

It may be raining, but the state’s rainy day fund won’t get raided, Gov. Martin O’Malley tells The Gazette. Nor will K-12 education be touched, he reiterated in a comprehensive look at the budget options on the table. ASCME, the largest union for state workers, held a demonstration proposing taking money from the rainy day fund, hiking alcohol and other taxes, and instituting combined reporting for corporations. The Post blog gave its take on the AFSCME demo, and examined the push for increased alcohol taxes.

Johns Hopkins University is still the top-funded U.S. research university, with $1.7 billion in research funding, maintaining that position for three decades now, the Post’s Daniel de Vise reports. The Sun picked up the story.

Supporters of the “public option” in health care reform demonstrated in front of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Annapolis office Wednesday, Liam Farrell at the Capital reports. A few counter-demonstrators led by former delegate Herb McMillan, head of the Maryland Taxpayers Association, said the public-funded option is too costly.

Backers of public financing for General Assembly races cite a new Gonzales Research poll showing broad public support for the idea. But opponents of the idea say it would cost too much in tight budget times.  And Del. Jon Cardin, a strong backer of public financing, tells Bryan Sears at Patuxent that he will continue to take corporate contributions for now.

O’Malley heads to Los Angeles today to appear on tonight’s Bill Maher show

on HBO, the Gazette reports. While Laura Vozella in the Sun reports the gov was mistakenly referred to on the shows website as a “scholar.”

Congressman Frank Kratovil, the freshman Democrat in the 1st District, is far ahead of his possible GOP opponent, state Sen. Andy Harris, in fundraising, Doug Tallman at the Gazette reports.

Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar speculates on the future political steps for Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith – Maryland Senate, Congress, O’Malley running mate? Also in the Gazette, former Montgomery County Council member Gail Ewing discusses options for increased state transportation funding. While fellow columnist Laslo Boyd discusses the political transformation of Comptroller Peter Franchot from a leftist gadfly into a “fiscal conservative.”

Dels. Mike Smigiel and Curt Anderson, a Republican and a Democrat, are considering sponsoring legislation to increase the size of the Board of Trustees of the state public defender’s office, after the current three-member board fired Nancy Forster from the job.

Are speed cameras about safety or money? In Prince George’s County, the County Council is going to let the Revenue Authority decide the placement of the cameras at school sites. Mike Dresser at the Sun, a strong advocate of the safety angle, thinks that’s a bad idea.

Maryland Politics Watch says one of its most read blogs this week was about looming cuts at the Gazette.

Marylanders rank their health care plans below the national average, Jalehka Dash in the Baltimore Business Journal writes, based on a report by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

Fraser Smith in The Daily Record writes about the transformation of the old University of Maryland hospital.

The Public Service Commission wrapped up hearings on the Constellation-EDF deal, according to The Sun.