April 8, 2010

State Roundup April 8, 2010

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CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich officially announced his candidacy Wednesday before hundreds of supporters. Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz has the story. Ehrlich promised to cut taxes and protect small businesses, according to Erin Cunningham and Doug Tallman for The Gazette. Ehrlich hopes that his familiar ideas will pay off in this political climate, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com

The challenger says, “Welcome to history, part two,” Washington Post staff writers John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis write as they probe Ehrlich’s tough road ahead. WBAL TV has video from Ehrlich’s announcement.

WMAR has video following Ehrlich from Rockville to Halethorpe, and includes an interview with Gov. Martin O’Malley in Annapolis, who responds to his opponent’s formal announcement. Brian Kuebler has the story. Gov. O’Malley says he’s “anxious to defend his record,” according to John Rydell for WBFF.

WJZ political reporter Pat Warren also caught up with O’Malley in Annapolis. She says he’s meeting the challenge head on. WBAL Radio reporters Rob Lang and Scott Wykoff have video, photos and audio from the day. Reporting for WYPR, Tom LoBianco says O’Malley will have to defend some unpopular budget choices and tax increases if he hopes to defeat Ehrlich again.

BUDGET: WBAL-TV reporter Dave Collins has video from inside the House and Senate’s conference committee, where this week lawmakers have discussed teacher pensions, highway funds, stem cell research and the University of Maryland’s environmental law clinic, among other possible cuts to the budget.

METRO: Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia would have to share the costs of a budget shortfall for the district’s Metro system, but board members say they don’t think Maryland will pitch in after deferring $28 million in capital funding. Ann Scott Tyson has the story for the Post.

GANGS: Legislation to create stricter gang laws is being carefully scrutinized by lawmakers who have less than a week to get the bills out of committee and approved, according to Liam Farrell for The (Annapolis) Capital.

HUNTING: The House of Delegates reduced the required safety zone between bow hunting and buildings in Frederick County, writes Frederick News-Post staff writer Meg Tully.

BOND BILLS: The state’s capital budget has been approved by the House, although Republicans are crying foul because of projects that were added last minute, writes Erich Wagner for MarylandReporter.com.

AUTO INSURANCE: After two days of debate, the Maryland Senate passed a measure to increase the minimum amount of insurance drivers must purchase, much to the dismay of Republicans who say the bill is a win for trial lawyers against the poor, writes Nick Sohr for The Daily Record. The Governor intends to sign the bill into law, according to Steve Fermier for WBAL Radio.

The new liability minimums will be $30,000 per person and $60,000 per crash. Listen to Nick DiMarco’s audio story from MarylandReporter.com.

SLOTS: The Maryland Board of Public Works compromised with the State Lottery Agency by approving $200 million — down from an original $800 million request —  for machines for two facilities opening this fall. Adam Kerlin of Capital News Service has the story. State Comptroller Peter Franchot hesitated to authorize the deal because of the state’s fiscal crisis, according to Kathleen Miller for the Associated Press.

OYSTER POACHING: Maryland’s watermen demonstrated to show their support for increased penalties for oyster poaching Wednesday. Capital News Service reporter Brady Holt has the story.

CELL PHONE: Sun reporter Michael Dresser wants to know how Marylanders feel about the possibility of not being able to use cell phones while driving. According to Dresser, the bill is likely to pass the House of Delegates after the House Environmental Matters Committee voted out the measure unanimously.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: A bill that would provide Maryland teachers a neutral third party unit to mediate labor disputes is moving through the House, according to the Maryland Association of Counties blog.

DUI LAWS: House Judiciary Committee Chair Joseph Vallario opposes tougher DUI laws and is working long hours to make his case, writes Ashley Halsey III for The Post.