March 4, 2010

State Roundup March 4, 2010

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Lawmakers are talking about educational policies while former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor shares her views on judicial elections. Also, Wicomico County could be seeing a hefty check if the governor has his way.

EDUCATION REFORM: Leading business groups and charter school advocates say the Governor’s plans to compete for $250 million in federal money through education reform “do not go far enough,” write Julie Bykowicz  and Liz Bowie from The Baltimore Sun.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Gov. Martin O’Malley got behind a tax credit for aid to private schools, John Wagner writes for the Washington Post. Erich Wagner has an updated piece on MarylandReporter.com that points out this is the first time the governor has taken a position on such a bill.

COUNTIES: Lawmakers should consider reducing teacher pensions rather than shifting costs to local governments, two county executives said Wednesday as local leaders sought to prevent more cuts to local aid. Len Lazarick has the story for MarylandReporter.com. Here’s a blog post on the local concerns by the Maryland Association of Counties.

TOLLS: Drivers could see a toll hike at major facilities like the Bay Bridge. The fee hike would be the result of rising debt and capital costs, according to Liam Farrell of The (Annapolis) Capital.

CUTS: The Capital’s Elisabeth Hulette reports on planned cuts to Annapolis High School.

ELECTRICITY: According to Associated Press Writer Brian Witte, Maryland lawmakers want consumers to save money by shopping around for power.

BUDGET: It’s time to get serious about the budget – at least according to Sen. David Brinkley. Meg Tully has the story for the Frederick News-Post.

DRUNK DRIVING: People convicted of drunken driving may be replacing their car key with  an ignition interlock system, under legislation that came before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Adam Bednar writes for the Carroll County Times.

VINO: Carroll County Times staffer Carrie Ann Knauer writes that wine legislation that would allow direct shipment to homes is due for a hearing Friday.

TAXES: For the second year in a row, the state has found that it could have brought in more money if it had instituted a controversial corporate tax measure known as “combined reporting,” Andy Rosen reports for MarylandReporter.com. But different industries would experience wide swings in their tax liabilities.

TRANSPORTATION: Michael Dresser of The Sun came to Annapolis with his Getting There blog, and had several budget-related entries throughout the day. For one, the state’s snow removal cost has now exceeded $110 million.  He also reports that work zone speed cameras have slowed drivers down. And he writes about a proposed cut to Baltimore City road funds that we reported a week ago. Overall, Dresser reports that state road spending has gone down.

FUNDING REQUIREMENTS: Prince George’s and Montgomery county reps are asking state lawmakers for a little slack when it comes to educational funding requirements, according to The Gazette’s David Valentine.

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor weighed in on a bill that would put an end to contested judicial elections in Maryland writes Steve Lash of The Daily Record and Annie Linskey from The Sun.

BUDGET FIXES: It seems nearly everyone opposes new proposals to close Maryland’s budget gap according to this Capital News Service story.

BACKLASH: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver is facing criticism of a trip he took to Iraq, similar to what O’Malley dealt with after his own trip there last weekend. John Wagner has the story for the Washington Post.

CAPITAL PROJECTS:  O’Malley plans to give Wicomico County nearly $40 million for capital projects, writes Greg Latshaw of the Salisbury Times.

DEMOCRATS: Let’s get ready to rumble. Maryland democrats have already begun taken shots at former Gov. Robert Ehrlich who hasn’t even officially thrown his hat into the ring yet, according to Heather Harlan Warnack, Baltimore Business Journal staff writer.

WATERMELON: Environmental advocates insist that they are not comparable to watermelons, Nick DiMarco writes for MarylandReporter.com, contrary to an Eastern Shore senator’s assertion at a recent legislative hearing.

INTERWEBS: MarylandReporter.com Editor Len Lazarick will be on Annapolis Capital Punishment’s Sip n’ Blogs today.