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Published on January 12th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, January 12, 2011

O’MALLEY OPEN MINDED: Gov. Martin O’Malley says he will “keep an open mind” on any new taxes that the General Assembly might propose during the legislative session that begins today, opening the door to a wide range of revenue-generating proposals, writes Annie Linskey for the Sun.

John Wagner and Ann Marimow of the Post also said the budget he submits should be viewed as “the first word, rather than the last word.”

TEACHER PENSIONS: The shift of responsibility for funding teacher pensions from the state will cause a shift in how local jurisdictions consider their own budgets, writes the Frederick News Post’s editorial board.

STATE BUYOUTS: The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz blogs that the 1,400 state employees seeking buyouts have until Friday to rescind their offer. And not all who applied will be granted the buyout.

M O’M ADDRESS: O’Malley will travel to the Eastern Shore the day after he is inaugurated to address members of the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Caucus at their annual meeting, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

ROCKY SLOTS: State slots commissioners are urging lawmakers to loosen the requirements for prospective developers of a casino at Rocky Gap in Western Maryland, which has proved the least attractive of the five sites approved for slot-machine gambling, reports Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

Other proposed legislative changes would allow slot machines in the lodge permanently and require the casino developer to buy the struggling resort and expand the conference space, the Daily Record’s Nick Sohr reports.

Here’s Scott Dance’s story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

Lowell Melser of WBAL-TV adds that the commission intends to let the legal process play out concerning Baltimore City Entertainment Group, which is trying to get a slots parlor in Baltimore City.

Bykowicz also blogs that retired judge James Taylor is stepping down from the state slots commission this week.

FLUSH TAX HIKE: “If no one else will do it,” expect House Environmental Matters Committee chairwoman Maggie McIntosh to introduce legislation doubling the annual flush tax from $30 to $60 per household. Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes.

NO FREE ROOM: The General Assembly’s ethics counsel has warned legislators about accepting offers from Annapolis hotels for a free second bedroom for their aides when they stay in town for the 90-day session, writes Liam Farrell for the Annapolis Capital.

REDISTRICTING: Lauren Fulbright of the Arbutus Times follows up on a Sun story, which said that redistricting won’t be taken up until the summer. She goes into further detail about the process.

MUNSON OUT, NOT GONE: Former state Sen. Donald Munson will continue to be seen in the State House halls after today: He’ll be an unpaid volunteer for Del. John Donoghue as he works toward his goal of becoming a lobbyist, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

WHAT KAMENETZ WANTS: Bryan Sears of Patch.com reports that school construction and limiting cuts to local aid from the state top a short list of legislative priorities announced yesterday by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The Sun’s Andy Rosen blogs that Kamenetz is asking for more state aid for school renovation and construction, and infrastructure improvements along the Liberty Road corridor. Ryan Sharrow writes the story for the BBJ.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Budgets and waistlines are two things that usually expand during the 90-day General Assembly session. But Kamenetz was hoping not to add to the latter at least. He offered fruit and fiber bars as he offered up his proposals, blogs Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

OLSZEWSKI CHAIRS: State Del. John Olszewksi Jr., Democrat serving the 6th District and son of Baltimore County Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr., was named chairman of the Baltimore County House Delegation, Steve Schuster writes for the Towson Times.

STONE WILL NOT: When the eight state senators representing Baltimore County gather later today to pick a chairman for their delegation, the name of its current chairman, Sen. Norman Stone, will not be on the ballot, blogs Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

STOP ‘EM AT THE DOOR: Republican state Del. Pat McDonough said Maryland officials should do more to bar access to government buildings in Annapolis during the 90-day General Assembly session by people without identification or proper documentation — particularly illegal immigrants, Patch.com’s Bryan Sears reports.

HHS MOVE? Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker plans to spend a portion of the county’s $116 million surplus to persuade the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to move from Rockville to Prince George’s, Daniel Valentine reports for the Gazette.

BAKER HEADS TO WALL STREET: Baker plans to head to Wall Street Friday to offer assurances that despite economic challenges, his new administration is in a good place, financially speaking, the Post’s Miranda Spivack reports.

HOTEL TAX SKEPTICS: Some Howard County state legislators are skeptical of an Ulman administration proposal to raise the local hotel/motel tax, because the draft legislation doesn’t say where the new revenue would go, reports the Sun’s Larry Carson.

B’MORE MAYOR’S RACE: Just blocks away from each other, in equally opulent settings, the title-holder and a top contender went head-to-head last night in the first serious battle of cash and clout of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, writes Jill Rosen for the Sun.

Dave Troy, a successful entrepreneur, knows computers, social media and the power of the Internet. Now he’s dabbling in politics, writes Gus Sentementes for the Sun. Troy is endorsing Otis Rolley for Baltimore city mayor.

Take a look at the photos from each event.

Here’s Karen Parks’ video report for WBFF-TV.

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