February 5, 2010

State Roundup 2-5-2010

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Today there’s a lot of coverage of the sentencing of Sheila Dixon and the swearing in of now-mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, as well as of the submission of a referendum that could block the Arundel Mills slot proposal. We’ve also got FCC complaints against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, more reflection on the State of the State speech and Republicans trying their hand at state budget proposals.

BALTIMORE MAYOR: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was sworn in Thursday as mayor of Baltimore, replacing the newly-sentenced Sheila Dixon. Rawlings-Blake vowed to strengthen ethics laws and maintain public safety, all while dealing with a record budget gap, Julie Scharper reports in The Baltimore Sun. Annie Linskey covers the sentencing for The Sun, while Brendan Kearney reports on both events for The Daily Record.

ARUNDEL MILLS: A coalition has submitted almost 24,000 signatures in support of a referendum on Anne Arundel County’s ballot to decide whether to overturn the decision allowing a slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall, Nicole Fuller writes in The Sun. Stop Slots at Arundel Mills and the Maryland Jockey Club have exceeded the 9,395-signature requirement for the Feb. 5 deadline and eclipses the total 18,790 required to secure a place on the ballot. The Maryland Jockey Club is afraid a slot facility there would hurt business at Laurel Park, Liz Farmer reports in The Daily Record. John Wagner of The Post reports that the group used paid petition gatherers.

REPUBLICAN BUDGET: Maryland Republicans have decided to take the Democratic leadership up on their offer to consider alternative proposals: they’re piecing together a plan to cut $2 billion from the state budget, Hayley Peterson reports in The Washington Examiner. So far, their plan would eliminate more state positions, roll back the Medicaid expansion, level-fund education and cut taxes.

STORMWATER: Tom LoBianco writes for Center Maryland that counties could be forced to levy a fee on property owners to deal with stormwater runoff issues, under one senator’s proposal. Center Maryland also interviews Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith on the issue.

EHRLICH: The Maryland Democratic Party sent a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, alleging that Ehrlich violated “payola” rules last year in a segment on WBFF, Julie Bykowicz writes in The Sun. The accusation claims that Ehrlich, a likely challenger to Gov. Martin O’Malley, failed to disclose his ties to a slots applicant while discussing the slots proposals, Daniel Sernovitz writes in the Baltimore Business Journal.

An Ehrlich spokesman said the former governor made the disclosure on at least one occasion, Margie Hyslop writes in The Gazette, while Democrats are sowing concerns that Ehrlich may have spoken about clients without making his connection clear on other occasions. Here’s the Post’s take.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: The Greater Baltimore Committee will fight the diversion of transportation funds proposed by legislative analysts, Michael Dresser reports on his Getting There blog for The Sun. He also has a lot of snow-related transportation update.

GUBERNATORIAL RACE: Popular political pundit Larry Sabato thinks former Gov. Bob Ehrlich would win a rematch with Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sean Sedam and Doug Tallman report in The Gazette. Ehrlich has said he’ll announce his election plans in March.

CORPORATION FOR CONGRESS: A Silver Spring public relations firm wants to push the limits of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance ruling by running for Congress against Democrat Chris Van Hollen, Kevin James Shay writes in The Gazette.

GALLAGHER: Alan Brody in The Gazette has a profile of O’Malley Chief of Staff Matthew Gallagher.

BUSCH: John Wagner at The Washington Post has the rest of a promised off-beat interview with House Speaker Michael Busch. Busch still likes the Doobie Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Ryan Spiegel of the Gaitherburg City Council writes on Maryland Politics Watch that campaign finance reform might best be achieved at the local level.

TAX CREDIT: Some lawmakers and business owners question whether Gov. O’Malley’s proposal to provide a $3,000 tax credit for each Maryland resident they hire will put people back to work, Hayley Peterson reports in The Washington Examiner. John Rydell at Fox45 has video on O’Malley’s job creation tax credit proposal.

STATE OF THE STATE: Barry Rascovar in his Gazette column writes that much of the drama has been sucked out of the State of the State address, since the governor has already unveiled his budget and his legislative package by the time the speech is made. Another article in The Gazette criticizes has O’Malley’s speech on Tuesday as flat.

CIGARETTE TAX: Mark Newgent at Red Maryland takes issue with arguments that a cigarette tax increase didn’t hurt sales in Maryland.

MARYLAND FOOTBALL: A bill in the House would make the University of Maryland play Morgan State and Towson University in football at least once every four years, Alan Brody and Sean Sedam write for the Gazette. Athletic directors don’t like the idea. Nick Sohr has more on his blog for The Daily Record.

CLOTHESLINE: Meg Tully of the Frederick News-Post has coverage of a bill that would force homeowners associations and local governments to allow clothesline use.

LOCAL CUTS: The Washington County delegation heard concerns that funding decisions for local programs, like after-school, diversion and teen pregnancy prevention, may be made at the state rather than local level, Erin Julius writes in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.