April 5, 2010

State Roundup April 5, 2010

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There’s just one week left in the General Assembly session, which ends at midnight next Monday. Today’s Roundup looks at what’s left to do, including budget work, action on sex offenders and teacher tenure.

WRAPPING UP: The budget is likely to dominate the final week of the session, Rob Lang writes in his weekly preview for WBAL Radio.

In addition, Lawmakers still have to work out differences on plenty of other measures, including stronger sex offender laws and tougher tenure for teachers, Annie Linskey writes for The Baltimore Sun. She points out that just 46 out of more than 2,500 bills have passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

HOUSE BUDGET: Aaron Davis of the Washington Post writes that Maryland’s House and Senate budget plans vary widely, especially on the matter of whether to shift teacher pension costs toward counties and to make local governments pay more for state highway maintenance. Hayley Peterson with the Washington Examiner writes about the key issues dividing the two chambers. Joel McCord has an audio report for WYPR in Baltimore. Here’s John Rydell’s take for Fox 45 in Baltimore, with video.

Adam Bednar with The Carroll County Times writes that local officials will be watching nervously this week to see if the two chambers can agree on the teacher pension shift. Such a change would hurt school budgets, Penny Riordan writes for the Times.

Doug Tallman with The Gazette writes that Republicans are accusing Democrats of plotting tax increases for after the election, something the majority party denies.

In its vote to give final approval to its budget proposal, the House stripped out a provision that would withhold funding from the University of Maryland’s environmental law clinic over a lawsuit on chicken waste. Here’s The Associated Press take.

The House budget would restrict the use of money from an income tax reserve fund that the state has relied on in the past two budgets, according to the Maryland Association of Counties’ Conduit Street blog.

INVOCATION: A Good Friday prayer in the House ruffled feathers by repeatedly praying in Jesus’ name, Len Lazarick writes in his weekly analysis for MarylandReporter.com.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN: Nick Sohr with The Daily Record writes that defense giant Northrop Grumman has narrowed its search for a new headquarters to a site in Maryland and others in Virginia. Washington, D.C. had previously been in the hunt.

EHRLICH VS. O’MALLEY: Democrats are likely to try to paint former Gov. Bob Ehrlich as a — gasp — lobbyist during this year’s campaign as he seeks to unseat Gov. Martin O’Malley. Julie Bykowicz writes for The Sun that the strategy can be effective, but there’s just one problem: Ehrlich isn’t a registered lobbyist and apparently hasn’t been advocating before the state or federal legislature.

Aaron Davis in the Post writes that Republicans and analysts alike see Ehrlich as a strong candidate in Maryland, but he has tough questions to answer.

Liam Farrell in The (Annapolis) Capital takes a look at the role Anne Arundel County will play for Ehrlich in the election.

Julie Bykowicz with The Sun writes that Ehrlich will keep his radio show on WBAL until he officially files as a candidate in July.

The Intercounty Connector, associated more with Ehrlich than O’Malley, won’t open during the campaign. But it would have been an interesting ribbon cutting if it had, Michael Dresser writes for his Getting There blog for The Sun.

Gov. O’Malley’s brother, Peter, is leaving his post as chief of staff for Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Bryan Sears writes for his Strange Bedfellows blog for Patuxent. Peter O’Malley is joining his brother’s campaign.

DRIVING BILLS: Michael Dresser writes for The Sun that some form of hand held cell phone ban is likely to pass this year, as are tougher laws on ignition interlock systems for drunk drivers.

SOLAR BOOST: A bill requiring Maryland electricity suppliers to more rapidly increase their solar energy production passed the Senate Friday, despite Republican objections that it would cost consumers over $800 million. Nick DiMarco has the story for MarylandReporter.com.

TEA PARTY LOBBY?: A Democratic operative has raised questions about whether Maryland’s top tea party group Americans for Prosperity should be registered as a lobbying group, Annie Linskey writes for The Sun.

The group hopes to continue to grow before the November election, in the wake of the approval of a federal health overhaul, writes Brian Witte of the AP.

FILM CREDIT: Without incentives to offer filmmakers, Maryland is losing out on productions that might otherwise be set in the state, Greg Latshaw writes for The (Salisbury) Daily Times.

CHILD ABUSE BILL: A bill to increase the maximum penalty for abusing and killing a child is still alive in the House Judiciary Committee, Erin Julius writes for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

GANG LAWS: Senators could vote Monday on proposals to toughen gang laws, Andrea Fujii reports, with video, for WJZ.

IMPEACHMENT: The Sun’s editorial page calls Del. Don Dwyer’s attempt to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler “a politically inspired spectacle that, deservedly, failed spectacularly.”

RANTS, RAVES: Tom LoBianco introduces a new column on political doings in Corridor Inc. magazine.

BUSCH: MarylandReporter.com also runs a video of our interview with House Speaker Michael Busch. In Corridor Inc. magazine, Josh Kurtz muses on the fates of Busch and Senate President Mike Miller.