February 18, 2010

State Roundup Feb. 18, 2010

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LAWMAKER PENSIONS: State senators defeated an attempt by Sen Andy Harris to alter their pensions and reduce their pay, reports The Associated Press. WBAL has audio of part of the testy exchange between Republican Senator Andy Harris and Democratic Senator Richard Madaleno during the debate.

The senate did adopt a measure that would strip state lawmakers of retirement pay if convicted of crimes related to their public duties, an issue that came to light after former Baltimore Mayor Shelia Dixon kept her pension after being found guilty of stealing gift cards, Annie Linskey writes in The Baltimore Sun.

HARRIS AIDE: Senate President Mike Miller says Sen. Andy Harris’ chief of staff must resign or be terminated by Friday. His chief of staff, Kathy Szeliga, plans on running for the House of Delegates which Miller says violates Maryland General Assembly personnel policy, writes The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz.

JOB CREATION: The Post’s Aaron Davis takes a critical look at the big promises of job creation by Govs. Martin O’Malley and Bob McDonnell.

MIKULSKI: The Sun’s Paul West writes that Sen. Barbara Mikulski has been running a very successful unannounced campaign for re-election for this year. The senator has already raised more than $2 million in a possible race with no opponent.

EHRLICH: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is asking for supporters to become fans of him on Facebook, another sign he may run against Gov. O’Malley, writes The Posts’s John Wagner.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance writes lawmakers are trying to find relief for unemployment insurance, as a current proposal isn’t drawing consensus. The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr has a posting about how the unemployment saga continues.

STORMWATER: State lawmakers are proposing to delay and weaken stormwater pollution controls before they take effect this spring. The bill would grandfather in an untold number of development projects, writes Timothy Wheeler with The Sun.

GPS TRACKING: The Washington County delegation to the General Assembly plan on introducing a bill that would make GPS tracking possible in protective-order cases, reports Erin Julius with The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

WASHINGTON CO. SUPER: Lawmakers honored Washington County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan yesterday. Erin Julius with The Herald-Mail writes she was named 2010 National Superintendent of the Year.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Some legislators are pushing to strengthen the state’s laws against people who are forced into human trafficking. ABC2’s Christian Schaffer has the story of one woman who was forced to sell herself.

CAMPAIGNING LIMITS: Political candidates could campaign door-to-door and homeowners associations wouldn’t be able to impose certain restrictions on residents’ political activities under a proposed bill, reports Marc Shapiro with Carrol County Times.

WINE: Merchants are upset over the wine shipping bill that was shot down by state lawmakers, writes Ike Wilson with the Frederick News-Post.

BABY BOTTLES: WBAL-TV has a video report on a bill that would ban a toxic chemical, Bisphenol A, from being used in childrens’ cups and bottles.

TAX BREAKS: The Cumberland Times-News’ Michael Sawyers reports Gov. Martin O’Malley toured American Woodmark’s local cabinet manufacturing plant Wednesday. He told management substantial tax breaks could be on the way for the company when it hires new employees.

TRANSPORTATION GRANTS: The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes the state could benefit from two large federal grants to improve transportation.

HOGAN: Before Larry Hogan ended his bid for governor, a request was filed seeking numerous documents about Hogan’s tenure as Ehrlich’s secretary of appointments, writes John Wagner with The Post.

PRISON PHONE JAMMING: Gov. O’Malley was on site when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration jammed cell phones at the Federal Correctional Institution-Cumberland, writes Michael Sawyers with Cumberland Times-News.

JOBS TAX CREDIT: Lawmakers expect to pass a proposal to reward employers who hire people off unemployment rolls, but some who support it are not sure how effective the move will be, Andy Rosen reports at MarylandReporter.com.

SPECIAL SENATE ELECTIONS: The governor could lose the power to appoint replacements altogether, or have it severely cut back in the wake of controversial selections in other states, Erich Wagner reports in MarylandReporter.com

MILLIONAIRES TAX: Some lawmakers want to keep Maryland millionaires paying an extra income tax surcharge set to expire in December, but the idea has run into heavy bipartisan opposition in both the House and Senate, according to MarylandReporter.com

CAPITAL CITY: Paul Foer in his column in The Capital suggests that the state revive the commission on the capital city. (BTW, Senate President Mike Miller remarked on the city’s “disgraceful” snow clearance in the Senate chamber, not the office building that bears his name.)

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