February 1, 2010

State Roundup, February 1, 2010

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Miller talks retirement again, Ehrlich waits to announce, medical pot gets a boost and Maryland defends its new rules on Chesapeake Bay runoff.

MILLER: Senate President Mike Miller hinted that he might retire after his next term, assuming he is re-elected this November, but then hedged his statements quickly. Alan Brody at The Gazette has the scoop from an event in Southern Maryland.

EHRLICH: John Wagner in The Washington Post reports that former Gov. Bob Ehrlich might be emboldened by recent Republican victories around the country. Though he won’t announce either way until March, some believe Ehrlich appears to be moving toward a run.

OBAMA: President Barack Obama’s visit to Baltimore didn’t raise the economic hopes of some in the city’s tougher neighborhoods, Ylan Mui reports in the Post.

MARIJUANA: The sponsors of a medical marijuana legalization initiative say they can avoid some of the problems that have sprung up in other states. Kelly Brewington and Meredith Cohn report in The Baltimore Sun that their strategy depends on heavier regulation of pot dispensaries. The Sun’s editorial board says the state’s law should be tougher than California’s.

GOP BUDGET: Republicans often complain that they don’t get enough say in the state’s budget process, Liam Farrell reports in his “In Session” blog for The (Annapolis) Capital. Now they’ll be meeting with Democratic leaders to discuss their ideas. There’s a lot of finger pointing going on already.

CASINOS: There’s a bill in that would ask voters to approve casino-style table games for Maryland, Annie Linskey reports in The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog. It’s sponsored by the chairman of a key House subcommittee.

STORMWATER: David Fahrenthold in The Post looks at the battle over Maryland and Virginia’s new stormwater management rules, and what it means for the political clout of the Chesapeake Bay.

WINE SHIPPING: Carrie Ann Knauer has a package of stories in the Carroll County Times examining the state’s prohibition on the direct shipment of wine in Maryland. Here’s a piece on the pros and cons of a legal change, and why one winery group is staying out of the fight this year.

FILM TAX CREDITS: Meg Tully at the Frederick News-Post writes that film advocates are pushing to revamp the state’s film production tax credit, which did not survive this year’s budget cuts.

RAIL AID: Michael Dresser writes in his Getting There blog for The Sun about the $290 million in high speed rail projects that the state didn’t get as the federal government handed out cash last week. Maryland got $70 million.

SMARTPHONES: A bill before the General Assembly would make it illegal for transit operators to use smartphones for any purpose other than making a call, Nick Sohr reports in his blog for The Daily Record. That means no text messaging, either.

STIMULUS JOBS: Paul West on The Sun’s politics blog finds 6,759 jobs created last quarter in Maryland by the federal stimulus package, but outlines questions about how accurate that number is.

THE WEEK AHEAD: Rob Lang at WBAL Radio has an advance on what’s happening this week in Annapolis. O’Malley is giving his State of the State speech, and there’s a bill introduction deadline.

UNEMPLOYMENT CHANGES: Julie Bykowicz in The Sun has a look at the business community’s opposition to O’Malley’s unemployment insurance reform plan. Here is MarylandReporter.com’s coverage of the issue from last week.

CHAPMAN: The Associated Press reports that broker Nathan Chapman has lost a challenge to his conviction for defrauding the Maryland pension system.

SOLAR: Frederick County is asking the state to help install solar panels on government buildings, Karen Gardner reports for the News-Post. The state has $5 million to $6 million available for such projects.

MUNSON v. SHANK: Sen. Don Munson and House Minority Whip Chris Shank are about even in fundraising, Andy Schotz reports in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail. The Washington County Republicans are preparing to square off in a primary election for Munson’s seat this November.

CHILD ABUSE PENALTY: Shank is trying for the third time to pass a bill that would increase the maximum penalty for first-degree child abuse from 30 years to life in prison, Erin Julius reports for the Herald-Mail.

MATHIAS: George Wills writes in another Sun op-ed that Sen. Mac Mathias, who died last week, should still be a role model for lawmakers. His funeral will be webcast on Tuesday, the Frederick News-Post reports.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: An editorial in The Sun calls for tougher laws against human traffickers.

HEALTH CARE: If Congress doesn’t pass a health reform bill, there might be some state action next year, Rachel Leven reports for Capital News Service.

ELECTING JUDGES: Dan Pero writes in an op-ed for The Sun that Attorney General Doug Gansler’s proposal to eliminate judicial elections would make judges less accountable.

O’MALLEY: Cory Galliher of the Cumberland Times-News has some comments from Gov. O’Malley from a Friday breakfast in Annapolis with the Mountain Maryland PACE. (This corrects an earlier posting that said he was speaking in Western Maryland.) The governor mostly talked about the economy and unemployment. State funding cuts could close a support center for seniors in Allegany County, Kevin Spradlin reports in theTimes-News.