CELL PHONES: The Senate narrowly passed legislation banning hand-held cell phone use in cars, WJZ’s Kelly McPherson reports.The decision came on the heels of a heated debate, during which several amendments were offered to weaken the bill. Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser has the story.
Some opponents to the bill argued that hands-free cell use wasn’t the issue, but rather, engaging in conversation while driving was the most distracting. Ashley Halsey III and John Wagner in the Washington Post.
SLOTS: State officials are concerned about a plan to spend about $600 million on slot machines over the next five years, writes Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz. Andy Rosen of MarylandReporter.com has other details.
ACORN: The state is refusing to accept a $60,000 agreement that the Office of the Attorney General reached with the American Civil Liberties Union and ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), Andy Rosen reports in MarylandReporter.com
POLLUTION: Heated discussion over environmental regulations started to boil over on Wednesday after a House leader warned of a “bloodbath” regarding a plan to give state developers some breaks from pollution control requirements, Tim Wheeler writes for The Sun.
CHICKEN MANURE: The longest and most contentious debate in Tuesday night’s budget debate in the Senate came over a provision to withhold funding from the University of Maryland law school because of a lawsuit filed by one of its legal clinics over chicken manure on the Eastern Shore, Len Lazarick writes in MarylandReporter.com.
TAX CREDITS: Maryland businesses could receive $5,000 for each out-of-work employee they hire if a Gov. O’Malley sponsored bill is approved. The measure is nearing final approval, according to Julie Bykowicz of The Sun.
EHRLICH: A Washington television news host is claiming that former Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will announce his candidacy for governor on April 7, writes Julie Bykowicz for Maryland Politics, a Baltimore Sun blog. WMAR (ABC2), sister station to WJLA (ABC7) in DC, reported that Gov. Martin O’Malley seemed “unphased” by the thought of a rematch according to this video report.
BUDGET: WBFF (Fox Baltimore) breaks down budget cuts approved in the Senate.
YEAS AND NAYS: Maryland Politics (Washington Post Metro) bloggers John Wagner and Aaron Davis summarize key legislative action during Wednesday’s Senate session.
DRUNK DRIVING: The Senate passed a bill that imposes first time drunken driving offenders to install an ignition interlock system in their car. Donna Hamilton has the story for WBAL TV-11.
TABLE GAMES: The Senate wants the public to decide the fate of table games in Prince George’s County, according to this Associated Press story, posted by The Daily Record. The measure will cost the state about $51 million in renovations to the Rosecroft Raceway and may face bigger hurdles in the House, according to Hayley Peterson for the Washington Examiner.
HEALTH CARE REFORM: An advisory council has been established by Gov. Martin O’Malley to study the effects of health care reform for Marylanders, according to Ryan Sharrow for the Washington Business Journal.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Opponents say a bill that would allow high yield tax credits on donations for private schools are too close to voucher programs and could potentially empower schools with discriminatory hiring practices, writes Kathleen Miller for the Associated Press, posted by the Washington Examiner.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS: Correctional officers and their union are supporting legislation to grant them a bill of rights, Erin Julius reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
EARMARKS: Marta Mossburg in a Frederick News-Post column is critical of legislators who seek money for local pet projects, even in a lean budget year.