March 15, 2010

State Roundup March 15, 2010

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Today’s roundup looks at state budget cuts being considered as the Senate begins its decisions on the spending plan, Sunshine Week for open government brings lots of coverage, and the state is still struggling to distribute food stamps and other benefits effectively.

BUDGET CUTS: Annie Linskey of The Baltimore Sun writes that a Senate plan could slash up to $600 million from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed budget for this year. A budget panel in that chamber is supposed to begin deciding on spending reductions this week.

HIGHWAY AID: The Sun’s editorial page believes that a proposed $30 million cut in highway aid to Baltimore City (first reported on MarylandReporter.com) is  “nothing short of stealing from the poor to benefit the rich.

COMBINED REPORTING: A controversial tax corporate tax measure known as “combined reporting” could take a small step toward final resolution, but doesn’t appear to be going anywhere until next year. Nick Sohr has the story for The Daily Record.

SUNSHINE WEEK: Erin Cox writes a Sunshine Week story in The (Annapolis) Capital, which notes that state laws are silent on whether public bodies should post their records online. The paper also has a question and answer with the state lawyer who advises the panel in charge of open meeting rules.

Adam Bednar of the Carroll County Times writes that most open meetings complaints are filed by residents. Media outlets file the second most. Here’s the primer on open meetings and public records from the Times, and a story about how residents have used their access.

Here’s more from The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD: Maryland’s top financial regulator Sarah Bloom Raskin is being considered for a seat on the prestigious Federal Reserve Board, Paul West writes in The Sun’s politics blog. He follows a report in the Wall Street Journal.

TUITION: Lawmakers are considering a cut to the free tuition that employees and their families get at state colleges and universities, according to The Associated Press.

FOOD STAMPS: The state’s performance in distributing food stamps and medical benefits has actually gotten worse since a judge ordered officials to shape up last year, Brent Jones reports for The Sun.

PODCAST: This week, Senators start to decide how to slash Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed budget. We’ll tell you about the hot staff, transportation and economic development issues on the table. Our podcast features Len Lazarick, Andy Rosen and Maryland Public Television’s Lou Davis.

LOST GUNS: A state-run task force may have lost more than 20 guns that it seized, Matt Zaposky writes for the Washington Post, and investigators believe one of those weapons may have been used in the shooting of an off-duty police officer.

SEPTIC LAKE: Tim Wheeler in The Sun has the story of a septic problem on the Eastern Shore that has ruined a man-made lake, but there’s no solution in sight after more than a decade.

EHRLICH: Len Lazarick notes in his weekly column that it will be hard for former Gov. Bob Ehrlich to change much if he decides to run again, given the tough situation that anybody elected in November will face.  Ehrlich might wait until next month to announce whether he’ll run again this fall, John Wagner reports for the Post’s blog. However he’s already spouting off about the effect of a tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million.

MILLIONAIRES: The Free State Foundation blog comments on an editorial in Friday’s Wall Street Journal on “Maryland’s Mobile Millionaires.”

GANSLER: Christian Davenport of The Post writes that Attorney General Doug Gansler’s opinion that Maryland should recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere thrusts Gansler into the limelight at the end of an otherwise quiet term.

COMMISSIONS: Tom LoBianco writes for Center Maryland that lawmakers often use the creation of task forces and commissions as methods to delay action on controversial topics.

WAXTER CENTER: Lawmakers are considering plans to close the Waxter Center in Prince George’s County, because the girls’ detention facility is so run down, Henri Cauvin reports for the Post.

CANDIDATES: Jean Marbella observes in her column for The Sun that many of the more noteworthy candidates for the November election have not filed for election.

MILLER JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed President Mike Miller’s son as a district court judge in Anne Arundel County, according to the Associated Press. Here’s the Post’s story.

CELL PHONE BAN: Michael Dresser of The Sun writes that lawmakers are moving toward banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

SEX OFFENDERS: Brian Witte of The Associated Press writes that the House Judiciary Committee has approved an O’Malley plan to tighten state sex offender laws.  Here’s Melinda Roeder’s video take on the issue for Fox 45.

CORP. FOR CONGRESS: John Wagner of the Post takes a look at a corporation’s tongue-in-cheek effort to win public office in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Then the Post’s blog examines the attention the story brought the firm. The Gazette wrote the story a month ago.

EASTERN SHORE RACE: Paul West in The Sun writes about the “conservative tide” that Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil is facing on the Eastern Shore this November.

AMEDORI FOR SENATE: Republican Carmen Amedori has officially announced her intention to take on U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Adam Bednar reports for the Carroll County Times.

POLITICAL SPEECH: Seth Cooper in the Free State Foundation blog criticizes bills introduced this session that he says seek to limit political speech in the guise of campaign finance reform.

CHARITY SLOTS: Brian Shane of The (Salisbury) Daily Times reports that slot machines help charities in Wicomico County, while their absence in Worcester County hamstrings local fraternal organizations.

BALTIMORE CASINO: The company whose plan to build a slots casino in Baltimore was rejected by a state panel is continuing to fight for its project. Dan Sernovitz of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the bid is still technically alive.

CELL PHONE CONTRACTS: Nick Sohr writes on his Eye on Annapolis blog for The Daily Record that lawmakers are trying to ease the restrictions in cell phone contracts.

POWER LINES: Frederick County Del. Sue Hecht is calling for more state oversight of power lines, in light of a proposed transmission project that would run through the southern part of her county. Meg Tully has the story for the Frederick News-Post.