December 21, 2009

State Roundup, December 21, 2009

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Here’s what you missed over the weekend: Maryland digs out from a big storm, a day of reckoning for Arundel slots arrives, and the state gets defense earmarks from Washington.

Did you hear that there was a snow storm? It’s true. As much as 21 inches fell in the Baltimore area and all sorts of stuff was closed. Here’s the obligatory story in The Baltimore Sun, with comments from Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Tonight’s the night that the Anne Arundel County Council plans to vote on the zoning for a slots project at Arundel Mills mall. There are two competing bills. One would allow the Arundel Mills proposal, while another would bar a project there while authorizing one in an area that includes Laurel Park. An interesting possibility: both could pass, leaving the decision to County Executive John Leopold, who would presumably support the mall proposal.

Cox also writes a fact check of many of the arguments that both sides have used during the debate.

The state got $113 million in earmarks in a federal defense spending bill that Congress approved over the weekend, Paul West reports in The Sun. Maryland also got $127 million to help pay for road improvements around the growing military bases in the state.

Paul Kane at The Washington Post has the scoop on how Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin got down to Washington to vote on the spending bill during the storm on Saturday.

Gov. Martin O’Malley had promised the state response to the storm wouldn’t be hindered by recent budget cuts. Neither was his musical prowess, as his Irish group O’Malley’s March played two shows at Ram’s Head Tavern on Sunday, according to the Post’s Maryland Politics blog.

O’Malley has asked the Public Service Commission to order utilities to build new power plants in the state to relieve the strained power system, Danielle Ulman reports in The Daily Record. The PSC has been studying whether to do that.

Some critics are looking for O’Malley to speak out on the newly-announced tolls for the Intercounty Connector, Alan Suderman writes in The Washington Examiner. Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch reprints the entire letter to O’Malley from Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews.

Del. Rick Weldon, an unaffiliated delegate from Frederick County, is leaving the General Assembly to work for Frederick’s new Mayor, Randy McClement, according to The Associate Press. He will be replaced by a Republican, because he was elected from that party before dropping his affiliation.

Meg Tully at The Frederick News-Post has the reaction to Weldon’s departure from his colleagues in Annapolis.

Karen Anderson at Capital News Service wrote a story about the prospects for a Republican challenge to Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2010. Some of the experts in the story said they’d have a chance. All eyes remain on Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who hasn’t said if he’ll run.

Sen. Richard Colburn wants Gov. O’Malley to send state aid to help the Eastern Shore’s poultry industry, Laura D’Alessandro reports in The (Salisbury) Daily Times. The Republican is concerned that new chicken house development has ground to a halt this year.

Penny Riordan at the Carroll County Times has a feature on the new president of McDaniel College.

Brian Griffiths at Red Maryland writes that the General Assembly’s recommended freeze in state spending growth isn’t enough, and that lawmakers should have listened to Republicans who wanted to recommend spending reductions to O’Malley.