February 17, 2010

State Roundup Feb. 17, 2010

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Today, we’ve got extensive coverage of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s testimony on his foreclosure mediation proposal, as well as the fight to save millions of dollars in state aid to Prince George’s County and Maryland’s made a formal offer to Northrop Grumman, but nobody’s saying what it is.

O’MALLEY TESTIFIES: Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rep. Elijah Cummings both testified on a bill that would require mortgage companies to prove they tried to modify a borrower’s loan prior to foreclosing on the property. But some lawmakers questioned the need for more legislation, Julie Bykowicz reports in The Baltimore Sun. A judge would determine whether lenders fairly considered loan modification, and if not, the company would have to work out the terms of the loan with the homeowner, Hayley Peterson writes in The Washington Examiner. John Wagner has a post devoted to O’Malley’s testimony on The Washington Post’s Maryland Politics blog. Dave Collins has video for WBAL-TV, and John Rydell reports for WBFF-TV. And Joel McCord has an audio report for WYPR. Kenny Burns at Maryland Politics Today also picked up some audio from the hearing.

LOCAL AID: Prince George’s County is poised to lose $18.3 million in state aid next year, but members of the General Assembly don’t agree about why that is or how to fix it, Erich Wagner reports for MarylandReporter.com.

NORTHROP OFFER: Maryland has made Northrop Grumman a formal offer to entice the defense contractor to move its headquarters to the state, Nick Sohr writes in The Daily Record. But state officials are mum on the details, given the competitive atmosphere surrounding the move.

OBAMA VISIT: President Barack Obama visited Lanham Tuesday, where he made a pitch for new nuclear power plants and announced loan guarantees for the first new U.S. plant in decades, Paul West reports in The Sun.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The prospects for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to cut businesses’ unemployment taxes temporarily look grim, Scott Dance reports in the Baltimore Business Journal. Businesses are in negotiations with the governor’s office to come up with a compromise on a larger reform plan, but Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton said the tax relief would not be included.

Maryland is about to borrow money from the federal government to stabilize its unemployment fund, Nick Sohr reports on his blog for The Daily Record. He has a list of other states that have borrowed.

TRANSPORTATION FUND: A bill before lawmakers would make it harder to raid the state’s transportation fund for general expenses, Brady Holt writes for Capital News Service.

And Sen. Rob Garagiola is calling for a new commission to study transportation funding in the state. Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch reprints the press release.

SOLAR: Constellation Energy is setting aside $90 million to help businesses install solar power systems, Scott Dance writes in the Baltimore Business Journal. The plan is to design and build solar panels on commercial and government buildings, with Constellation owning the panels and selling the power generated to occupants.

O’Malley is pushing a bill that would boost the amount of solar energy utilities must include in the power they sell to customers, but some worry this will raise costs. Natalie Neumann has an audio report for MarylandReporter.com.

Meanwhile, proponents of solar energy are pushing for state programs to help the industry in Maryland, Meg Tully writes in the Frederick News Post. A bill in the General Assembly would create a loan program to establish solar energy, administered by the Maryland Clean Energy Center and local governments.

SORRY, DOC: A bill introduced in the Senate would exempt doctors’ apologies from being admissible in court, Rachel Leven reports for Capital News Service. Proponents say the bill encourages honesty between doctors and patients and their families and will lead to fewer malpractice suits.

PENSION AMENDMENT: Andy Green writes in an editorial for The Sun’s Second Opinion blog that Sen. Andy Harris’ amendment that would reduce legislative pensions and prohibit lawmakers who commit a felony while in office from collecting pension benefits is a good idea, given the difficulties with funding pensions lately.

TAX CREDIT: Sen. David Brinkley is pushing a bill that would extend the state’s homestead tax credit to couples living separately in two homes more than 90 miles apart, but he faces opposition from local government associations that fought to shut loopholes in 2007, Annie Linskey writes in The Sun.

MOTE: An editorial in The Sun looks back fondly on the legacy of University of Maryland president C.D. “Dan” Mote, as he presided over the school’s climb from “middling” to “world class.”

EARLY ENDORSEMENT: O’Malley doesn’t formally have an opponent yet for his November re-election bid, but St. Mary’s Today has seen enough from former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and is ready to endorse the sitting governor. Hat tip to the Post on the link.

KISSING COUSINS: Liam Farrell of The Capital spotted a bill that would outlaw marriage between first cousins in Maryland, unless, of course, they are over 65 or can prove that one of them is infertile.

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