February 15, 2010

State Roundup Feb. 15, 2010

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Today’s roundup features Gov. Martin O’Malley’s idea for school reform, a group of younger candidates for General Assembly offices, and partisan clashes over how to cut Maryland’s budget. We also have a piece on why Eastern Shore lawmakers are complaining about environmental regulation.

SCHOOL REFORM: Gov. Martin O’Malley wants lawmakers to approve a one-year extension to the amount of time that it takes teachers to earn tenure, Julie Bykowicz writes for The Baltimore Sun. The move would improve the state’s chances of pulling down up to $250 million in federal cash.

The Sun’s editorial board writes that the state still has a long way to go in addressing disparities between high- and low-performing school systems.

CAMPAIGN CROP: John Wagner at The Post takes a look at a crop of young challengers to General Assembly incumbents. The challengers cite an unstable political climate and President Barack Obama’s ascendance on a relatively brief record.

TABLE GAMES: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she’d like to see the state expand gambling to include casino-style table games, Annie Linskey writes for The Baltimore Sun.  Her comments came during her first appearance before the Baltimore City legislative delegation.

BUDGET POLITICS: Annie Linskey at The Sun has an analysis of the partisan clash over whether – and how – to make deeper cuts to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget in an election year.

SHORE COMPLAINTS: Lawmakers from the Eastern Shore clashed with the Secretary of the Environment Shari Wilson on Friday, Natalie Neumann reports for MarylandReporter.com. They called the agency “inflexible” and a hindrance to job growth in farming and other industries in their area.

SHORE UNEMPLOYMENT: Unemployment continues to rise on the Eastern Shore, the Associated Press reports via the Easton Star-Democrat, with December jumps in all but one county.

DIGGING OUT: There’s no business like snow business. This Monday’s podcast talks about the impact of the snow on the state capital with Meg Tully of the Frederick News-Post, Natalie Neumann and Editor Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

We’re number one in snowfall! Baltimore (along with Philadelphia), has surpassed Buffalo, N.Y., as the snowiest place of the year so far, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

The Associated Press reports that the cost to clean up last week’s snowstorm will easily exceed $40 million.

The Washington Post evaluates the response to last week’s snowstorm in and around the district. One key they point out? Managing expectations.

Carrie Ann Knauer of the Carroll County times writes that state officials are warning that it will hurt the Chesapeake Bay if residents use fertilizer to melt ice and snow.

Erin Julius writes in her blog for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail that campaigning lawmakers are sparring over a Facebook post that equates a vote against last year’s budget to a vote against snow removal money.

HEALTH MANDATES: Three Washington County Republicans are pushing for a new law that would shield Marylanders from any mandate that they buy health insurance, Julius writes for the Herald-Mail.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Andy Schotz at the Herald-Mail writes that community colleges have been working together to prioritize projects across campuses under tight budget conditions.

NEWS REVIEW: MarylandReporter.com Associate Editor Andy Rosen was on WYPR’s weekly news review Friday. Listen to it here.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN: The Washington Post’s metro team has the latest on Maryland and Virginia’s competing efforts to lure defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s new headquarters to their soil.

FORECLOSURES: The Daily Record has an editorial that points to some disturbing trends in Maryland foreclosures, and inspects the wider connection to the economy.

VALENTINE’S DAY: Theresa Winslow at The (Annapolis) Capital leads her Valentine’s Day feature with the story of how House Speaker Michael Busch met his wife.

Gov. O’Malley has somehow moved to extend Valentine’s Day by a week because of the snow. Tim Williams has the story for WJZ TV.

TEXTING BAN: Scott Daugherty at The Capital writes that lawmakers are trying to close a loophole in a new law that prohibits drivers from sending – but not reading – text messages while behind the wheel.

DUCK: Democrat Andrew Duck will challenge Rep. Roscoe Bartlett for his Western Maryland seat in the U.S. House, The Herald-Mail reports. Duck has made two previous unsuccessful House bids.

HELMET BILL: Greg Latshaw at The (Salisbury) Daily Times takes a look at a legislative proposal that would require minors to wear helmets when they operate scooters and mopeds.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Mark Reutter at Baltimore Brew writes that the state might have gotten more money for high-speed rail from the federal government if it submitted more “shovel ready” projects, and offered matching funds.

RECYCLING: The Maryland Association of Counties is fighting a bill that would require apartment and condo developments to provide resident recycling, the organization’s Conduit Street blog reports. Local governments are concerned that enforcing such a law would prove burdensome.