State Roundup, April 15, 2011

April 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

WINNERS, LOSERS: The Gazette posts its winners and losers in the just concluded General Assembly session.

FINAL HOURS: Emotions ran high in the final hours of the legislative session, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette.

MILLER: Despite his long service, Senate President Mike Miller is unwilling to talk about his retirement, writes Alan Brody in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY ECONOMIC PLAN: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced a five-year economic plan focused on creating and retaining jobs – a plan which he said he developed with the collaboration of the Economic Development Commission and input from more than 250 business owners, reports The Sun’s Nick Madigan.

The Baltimore Business Journal’s Nicholas Bollinger writes that O’Malley is hoping to lean on life sciences and military industries to jumpstart the economy.

ECONOMIC CONUNDRUM: A new report by the Maryland Economic Development Commission says that the state has everything in place for more economic growth, but is hampered by a complex corporate tax structure and over-reliance on the government, reports the Examiner’s Hayley Petersen.

HEALTH EXCHANGE: The state’s new health care exchange, set up to administer the new federal health care plan, is looking for board members, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Graham.

PENSION REFORM: Some analysts say that the entire methodology of calculating state pension liabilities ought to be changed, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com. Others say that Maryland did not do enough to repair its system during this General Assembly session.

The Hagerstown Herald Mail’s Andy Schotz gives a rundown of pension changes passed by the General Assembly this last session, explaining how much money they will raise and what they will do.

O’MALLEY-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: O’Malley was slightly out of his comfort zone as a panelist discussing “The Challenges and Opportunities of the American Muslim Community” at a forum at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum this week, writes The Post’s Aaron Davis.

IN-STATE TUITION REFERENDUM: Del. Neil Parrott is leading the drive to get in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, recently passed by the General Assembly, to the ballot as a referendum issue, reports WBAL’s Robert Lang.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Smaller counties are worrying about their share of alcohol tax money, as the six largest school systems get 91 percent of construction funds, Andrew Ujifusa reports in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY AGENDA: Despite the failure of two components of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s agenda, writes Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette, some political observers say those losses aren’t big setbacks and the governor can take credit for a handful of legislative changes, without losing important support.

VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER BILL: After eight years of trying, Del. Luiz Simmons finally got a bill passed in the General Assembly this year that punishes drivers responsible for a death in an auto crash with more than a traffic ticket, reports The Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully.

MARYLAND NOT BEST FOR BUCKS: A new study ranked Maryland the 29th best place in the United States to earn a living, reports the Examiner’s David Sherfinski. Neighboring Virginia took fourth place in the study.

NEW GRADUATION RATE CALCULATOR: A new statewide method of calculating high school graduation rates – which does not include GEDs, special education certificates, or students who take five years to finish – is likely to make schools’ graduation percentages drop, reports Megan McKeever of the Carroll County Times.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette Reporters Notebook has a roundup of  late night hijinks on Sine Die, the final day of session; and an item on Peter Franchot’s new campaign aide.

OPINION: In their Gazette columns, Blair Lee calls it an “almost” session, and Barry Rascovar says it was a disappointing one for Gov. O’Malley.

BALTO COUNTY BUDGET: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz rolled out his $1.6 billion budget, which takes $61 million from reserves and eliminates 41 vacant positions, reports The Sun’s Raven Hill.

The Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance writes that the county’s overall operating budget is slated to grow two tenths of one percent.

Patuxent Publishing’s Steve Schuster wrote that Kamenetz’s budget includes no tax increases, furloughs or layoffs. Patch.com’s Bryan Sears writes that it also contains no new initiatives.

PUGH FOR MAYOR? Sen. Catherine Pugh said Thursday that she is considering running for mayor of Baltimore City, blogs The Sun’s Julie Scharper. Pugh said she would make a final decision by the end of the month.

LEOPOLD SECURITY MISUSED: The Capital’s opinionators write that it is up to state prosecutors to decide whether Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold committed a criminal offense in utilizing his campaign security for other tasks, but it is apparent from records released by his office that there was “bad judgment” in sending them on several errands.

WORCESTER COUNTY LIQUOR DEPARTMENT: A new department will take over for the Prohibition-era county liquor control board after legislation passed in the General Assembly session. Comptroller Peter Franchot promised the Salisbury Daily Times’  Greg Latshaw that he’d be watching them.

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