March 31, 2010

State Roundup March 31, 2010

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Bob Ehrlich confirmed after months of speculation that he will run against Gov. Martin O’Malley again this fall. But that’s not all that happened Tuesday. Senators want to reduce slots taxes at Rocky Gap and teacher pensions could hold up the session, too.

EHRLICH: Bob Ehrlich confirmed his candidacy for governor, after months of mulling over the idea, Julie Bykowicz reports in The Baltimore Sun. He he will officially launch his campaign on April 7 in Rockville. Both Republicans and the O’Malley camp are happy that he finally announced, albeit for different reasons, Brian Witte writes for the Associated Press.

John Wagner writes that Ehrlich was emboldened by recent Republican victories in other states. Alan Suderman has the Washington Examiner’s take, and Ryan Sharrow has the story for the Baltimore Business Journal. Here’s the take from Andrea Fujii at WJZ. Christian Schaffer of WMAR has a video report on “The Sequel,” to the 2006 race. WBAL TV has a video report too, as does Fox 45.

Andy Green writes in an editorial for The Sun that an Ehrlich campaign is good for Maryland, forcing a conversation on the future of the state.

SLOTS: A Senate-approved proposal would reduce the tax rate on gambling at Rocky Gap State Park, Annie Linskey writes in The Sun. Lawmakers hope the move will entice people to bid on slots at the only location not to receive a qualified bidder.

MEDICAID: Maryland spends $6 billion per year on health care through the Medicaid program — half of it federal money — and lawmakers are looking especially hard this year for ways to get some of that cash back, Andy Rosen writes for MarylandReporter.com. But Gov. Martin O’Malley and the House Republican Caucus have differing ideas on how to do it.

TEACHER PENSIONS: Dave Collins at WBAL TV reports that disagreement between the House and Senate over teacher pension costs could delay the end of the session this year.

NARROW EXPANSIONS: Erich Wagner reports for MarylandReporter.com that some senators are questioning bills narrowly tailored to secure insurance and pension benefits to a small number of constituents with unusual circumstances.

SEX OFFENDERS: Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed O’Malley’s proposed sex offender reforms, Annie Linskey writes for The Sun’s blog.

EARMARKS: Senators from both sides of the aisle are taking aim at the “bond bills” that serve as the state’s version of legislative earmarks, Nick DiMarco writes for MarylandReporter.com.

DWYER: Republican Del. Don Dwyer’s crusade against Attorney General Doug Gansler could cost him his chance to pass his first piece of legislation, Allison Bourg writes in The Annapolis Capital. Dwyer is going to move today to impeach Gansler over his opinion that Maryland can recognize out-of-state gay marriages, The Associated Press reports. Len Lazarick analyzed the move on Tuesday for MarylandReporter.com.

MTA FARES: Gerald Neily of Baltimore Brew writes that the problem with MTA is not that they’re too low. It’s that they’re random and out-of-scale.

STATE AID: Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch looks at Prince George’s County’s strategy to get back $18 million in state aid it was poised to lose under O’Malley’s budget plan.

TEA PARTIES: Tom LoBianco with WYPR has a story on the state of the Tea Party movement in Maryland.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The House passed a bill Tuesday adjusting the law on restraining order disclosure, Meg Tully writes for the Frederick News Post. The proposal would allow courts to shield case histories from public view if a protective order was denied or dismissed, but such records would still be available to judges, prosecutors and domestic violence workers.

PRIMARIES: Erin Julius writes on her blog for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail that there may be a state Senate Republican primary battle brewing in Frederick between Sen. Alex Mooney and brand new Del. Charles Jenkins.

UNDERWEAR: Capital News Service’s Daniel Leaderman reports on a bill that would ban the resale of undergarments and bathing suits that have sold and returned.

SERAFINI: Erin Julius has a story in The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail highlighting Washington County Del. Andrew Serafini’s glum outlook on the state’s pension and health care obligations.