January 11, 2010

State Roundup, January 11, 2010

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Many publications have begun rolling out their previews of the legislative session. And surprise! Most of them emphasize that budget problems top the agenda.

Here’s the read from Julie Bykowicz at The Baltimore Sun.

Liam Farrell of The (Annapolis) Capital writes his legislative preview, which predicts a session in which lawmakers will be looking for ways to stimulate the economy without costing the state any money. New tax increases look doubtful, according to Meg Tully’s preview in the Frederick News-Post.

Adam Bednar of the Carroll County Times has a trio of General Assembly walkups. One focuses on local lawmakers’ ideas for cutting the budget. Another looks at other issues that the local delegation hopes to tackle this session, including hunting rights and human trafficking.  A third looks at the prospects for a bill that would allow nonprofits to run casinos.

Erin Julius of The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail writes in her legislative preview that area lawmakers are planning to look everywhere for budget cuts.

The Sun’s editorial board posts its wish list for the General Assembly session, including stronger Medicaid fraud laws, an increase in the alcohol tax and reforms to the way people pay for insurance through the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund.

Greg Latshaw at the Salisbury Daily Times reports on Eastern Shore priorities.

Brian Witte from the Associated Press provides another view on the upcoming session.

Baltimore City could benefit from incoming Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s close ties to Gov. Martin O’Malley in the coming legislative session, Annie Linskey reports in The Baltimore Sun. The two politicians have been close for years, since they were both on the City Council.

O’Malley is pushing for the renewal of a $50 million program that encourages the renovation of historic structures, Nick Sohr writes in The Daily Record. Here’s the Baltimore Business Journal’s take.

Aaron Davis at the Post takes a look at O’Malley’s response to the killing of a young girl on the Eastern Shore, and discusses how the governor’s moves in the coming session could affect his image as the “crime-fighting former mayor of Baltimore.”

Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is pushing for Marylanders to join a conservative protest of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s fiscal policies, according to John Wagner on The Washington Post’s Maryland blog. Ehrlich said on his Saturday radio show that 500 to 1,000 protesters is “not good enough.”

The Maryland Insurance Administration says CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield should raise its surplus, and is looking for legislation to strengthen its position, according to Danielle Ulman at The Daily Record.

Sandhya Somashekhar at the Post writes that Maryland isn’t alone in its budget trouble, and looks at other governments around the region as they struggle to make ends meet.

The University of Maryland is getting $10.3 million to help with its quantum physics research, according to Daniel de Vise at the Post.

The start of the legislative session means a boost for Annapolis merchants, E.B. Furgurson III writes in The Capital.

Lawmakers from the Frederick area are concerned about the impact of a federal health overhaul on Maryland’s budget, Ed Waters Jr. writes in The Frederick News-Post.

More than 10,000 state employees in Maryland and Virginia are making six figures, Alan Suderman writes in the Washington Examiner.

Mark Newgent at the Red Maryland blog has a roundup of stories that he thinks will hurt the Democratic party from the past week.

The AP’s Brian Witte reports on Gov. O’Malley’s speech at the Maryland Association of Counties dinner.

Baltimore County could be dealing with a budget gap as large as $152 million this year, Bryan Sears reports for Patuxent.

Cliff Cumber at the Frederick News-Post says the General Assembly Web site could use an update, joining the chorus for more accessibility to Annapolis information.

Del. Luiz Simmons, D-Montgomery, says rather than just giving public access to committee votes, real reform requires recorded votes on every bill, rather than leaving some in the chairman’s drawer.

The Post has its version of the battle for the Northrop Grumman headquarters, written by Dion Haynes.