January 6, 2010

State Roundup, January 6, 2010

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Today’s roundup includes reports on state budget concerns, a Sheila Dixon interview and early election campaign coverage, from announcements to pre-legislative session fundraising.

House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller rejected the recommendation by an independent commission increase salaries for Maryland legislators, Julie Bykowicz reports in The Baltimore Sun. MarylandReporter.com was on the scene.

Mayor Sheila Dixon said in an exclusive interview with The Baltimore Sun that she regrets her relationship with developer Ron Lipscomb, and believes that it was the cause of her legal troubles. Today Dixon goes to court to request a new trial.

Maryland has serious competition in wooing Northrop Grumman to move its headquarters to the state, Jamie Smith Hopkins writes in The Sun. Although the District of Columbia is unlikely to win, Virginia, with 30,000 Northrop Grumman employees to Maryland’s 11,500, is a strong contender.

There had been 41 fundraisers scheduled by Maryland lawmakers between New Years and the start of the state’s legislative session next week, John Wagner writes in The Washington Post. He estimates that more than $1 million will be raised in the two weeks this year, with an election on the horizon.

Attorney General Doug Gansler is taking aim at “debt-settlement” companies this year, backing legislation to stop predatory practices in the industry, Gary Haber writes in the Baltimore Business Journal. Gansler wants a cap on fees these companies charge as well as stop up-front billing.

A U.S. Bankruptcy judge ruled that the former owner of Laurel Park, Joseph De Francis, does not have the right to get a cut of slots revenue, despite an agreement he made with Magna Entertainment Corp. when he sold the track, Liz Farmer writes in The Daily Record. The only way De Francis can profit from gaming at Laurel is if he buys it back at its bankruptcy auction.

Elsewhere in gambling, Washington County’s Gaming Commission announced a 12 percent decline in its semiannual funding for local fire and rescue companies since January, Heather Keels reports in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

WYPR’s Joel McCord continues his coverage of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Chesapeake Bay strategy, focusing today on Gov. Martin O’Malley. It describes him as struggling to balance protecting the Bay with state economic interests.

Montgomery County arts organizations fear state money usually headed their way may be cut off as Maryland approaches the legislative session in another difficult budget year, Douglas Tallman reports in The Gazette of Politics and Business.

Adam Pagnucco Maryland Politics Watch takes a look at an old tax break given to country clubs, and the possible state budgetary impact of its repeal.

State Senator Andy Harris announced his bid to run against Rep. Frank Kratovil for Congress yesterday, Brian Witte reports for the Associated Press. Harris began by denouncing the health care reform plan in Congress and calling for an end to earmarks. Greg Latshaw has more in The (Salisbury) Daily Times, and David Sherfinski at The Washington Examiner talks to Kratovil’s team. WJZ has a full video report.

Three hundred members of the Maryland Air National Guard are deploying to Afghanistan this month, and WBAL TV has video coverage.

In his January column in Corridor Inc. magazine, Josh Kurtz talks about the political implications for Maryland of congressional races in far-off states.

Marta Mossburg in her weekly column in the Washington Examiner talks about some of the bills prefiled for the upcoming session, including “earmarks” proposed by Maryland legislators as bond requests.