February 4, 2010

State Roundup 2-4-2010

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In today’s roundup officials agree snow must be removed but it may mean more budget cuts, there is lots of coverage of the Baltimore mayoral transition, and several links to stories on introducing casino table gaming. Also in the roundup: stories on health insurance, gun laws, Verizon and term limits.

SNOW REMOVAL: Officials across the state agree snow must be cleared at all costs. But as The Sun’s Larry Carson reports the state had $26 million for snow removal and has spend $46 million before Tuesday night’s snow.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDS: Budget analysts are urging legislators to transfer $60 million intended for transportation funds to general use, reports Michael Dresser with The Sun.

DIXON: Outgoing Baltimore Mayor Shelia Dixon will be sentenced today for being convicted in December of misappropriating gift cards meant for needy families. Yesterday Dixon spent a contemplative last full day in office, writes The Baltimore Sun’s Julie Scharper. WBAL-TV has a report on the transition of the new mayor and of Dixon’s parting speech at the city’s Board of Estimates meeting.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake will be sworn as mayor in at a small ceremony at 12:05 today. The Sun’s Scharper also has a profile of the incoming mayor. Baltimore Business Journal reports Rawlings-Blake has picked Sophie Dagenais, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP law firm, as her chief of staff. WJZ’s Andrea Fujii reports on the challenges for soon-to-be mayor. Maryland Politics Watch’s Adam Pagnucco blogs about Rawlings-Blake’s transition team counsel.

YOUNG: Jayne Miller at WBAL-TV has a not-to-be-missed interview with prospective City Council President Jack Young, who tries to explain his home in Harford County and his state job.

HEALTH CARE: WBAL-TV’s David Collins blogged about a report commissioned by the insurance industry that the private sector in the state has the resources to offer universal health care coverage as in Massachusetts.

USE OF FORCE: Plaintiffs’ lawyers and gun and home owners are at odds on a bill that would allow people to use force against a home or office burglar without liability, writes Steve Lash in The Daily Record.

GAMING LAWS: Del. Frank Turner, D-Howard, introduced a bill amending the state’s gaming laws to allow sites to operate table games, writes Adam Kerlin with Capital News Service. The Capital’s Liam Farrell has a blog post about the issue. Washington County’s state lawmakers agreed to look into possible slots legislation next session, writes Erin Julius with The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

TERM LIMITS: Del. James King, R-Anne Arundel, is proposing a constitutional amendment to limit delegates, senators, the attorney general, comptroller and treasurer to two consecutive four-year terms, reports The Capital’s Liam Farrell.

VERIZON SETTLEMENT: The Public Service Commission agreed to a modified settlement that would require Verizon Maryland to offer better service before being allowed to raise rates, reports Danielle Ulman with The Daily Record. Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance has their take on the story.

LOAN LOOPHOLE: State financial regulators want lawmakers to close a loophole that allows 700 percent interest rates on short-term loans, writes The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Three Marylanders have been nominated to Obama administration positions. Inside Charm City posts a press release from Sen. Ben Cardin.

WIND FARMS: A recent federal court ruling has some Western Maryland wind farm critics urging state and local officials to increase regulation, reports Megan Miller with the Cumberland Times-News.

BUSCH ETC.: The Washington Post’s First Click blog has its take on a number of stories found elsewhere, plus a teaser on an exclusive “offbeat interview” with House Speaker Michael Busch. John Wagner promises to post the full interview at 11 a.m.