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Published on May 9th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, May 9, 2011

DREAM ACT FIGHT: Dels. Nic Kipke and Steve Schuh are knocking on doors to fight a new bill that allows illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at Maryland’s community colleges and universities, writes Tim Pratt of the Annapolis Capital.

WHY WAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE OK? In an interesting op-ed in the Sun, Fred Millar, an educational sociologist and minority parent activist, writes why the opposition accepted the Maryland Dream Act once community colleges were added to the law.

TRANSPORT TRUST FUND: Opinionators at the Annapolis Capital write that the state shouldn’t stuff any more money in leaking trust fund.

NO GAS TAX: Meanwhile, Maryland business leaders are urging legislators to delay discussions of increasing the state’s gas tax until next year, writes David Hill of the Washington Times, adding that the state is seeking $800 million in new revenue to help pay for road projects and restore the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

ECONOMIC LESSONS: Donald Fry of the Greater Baltimore Committee writes for Center Maryland that a new five-year plan for strengthening our state’s economic growth compiled by a statewide commission of business executives delivers some important messages to Maryland’s elected leaders that they really need to hear.

OLD DELEGATES CHAMBER: Starting this summer, visitors to the State House will be able to transport themselves to the Victorian Era in Annapolis in the old House of Delegates chamber – complete with ornate paintings, luxurious furnishings and intricate carpeting, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

SLOTS REVENUE SHOCKER: News that the county won’t be getting millions in slots revenue it was counting on this year came as a shock. At least, writes columnist Eric Hartley for the Annapolis Capital, if you haven’t been paying attention for the past, oh, nine years.

HARNESS RETURN CONCERNS: An abbreviated season of Maryland harness racing last year has many riders anxious to get back on the track. But as Ocean Downs prepares to hold a 40-day race season this summer in the shadow of a new slots parlor, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times, there are concerns about how many horsemen who fled to tracks in Delaware and elsewhere will return to race in Maryland.

OYSTER THEFTS: The fruit of at least a third of the work done by state agencies to restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay is being stolen through illegal harvesting, writes Capital News Service’s Kerry Davis for MarylandReporter.com.

STATE BAG TAX? Last week, Montgomery County approved a 5-cent levy on paper and plastic bags, becoming the first Maryland jurisdiction to institute a “bag tax.” Now, blogs Julie Bykowicz for the Sun, state lawmakers are laying the groundwork to expand the tax statewide.

WIND POLLUTION: The problem with wind, writes engineer Alex Pavlak in the Sun, is that it doesn’t get us close to zero carbon since wind energy requires a polluting backup system.

GANSLER’S POLLUTION SUIT: The Sun’s editorial board lauds state Attorney General Doug Gansler’s lawsuit against a Pennsylvania company that polluted waterways in Maryland through fracking 200 miles away but is disappointed that he does not take up an environmental cause right at home.

POLLUTION DIET: Lawmakers for Maryland and neighboring states were in Washington last week asking for more federal help in sticking to the strict “pollution diet” they’ve been put on for restoring the Chesapeake Bay, blogs Tim Wheeler for the Sun. They heard encouraging words, but got nothing concrete.

RESCIND AUTISM APPOINTMENT: A day after Dr. Mark Geier’s medical license was suspended in Maryland over allegations of putting children with autism at risk, state officials were seeking to remove his son from a state commission that advises the governor on the disorder, reports Meredith Cohn in the Sun.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN: A moment of silence before opening a government meeting is preferable to the Lord’s Prayer, writes the editorial board of the Salisbury Daily Times.

MERGER DELAYS BGE HIKE REQUEST: Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. had been planning to request increased electricity delivery rates later this year but will likely delay that until after its parent company completes a merger deal early in 2012.

BBJ Web Editor Ryan Sharrow talks with reporter Scott Dance about the effects the merger could have on local businesses and the real estate market. Listen to the podcast here.

RED LINE: Residents along the proposed Red Line listened to Maryland Transit Authority officials on Saturday as they answered questions and concerns. The line would run from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in East Baltimore to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Security Boulevard in western Baltimore County, Childs Walker reports for the Sun.

AGENCY FIRINGS: The Baltimore County Public Defender and the four supervising attorneys in the juvenile division of the agency’s Baltimore City office have been fired, reports Brendan Kearney for the Daily Record.

LEGGETT SECURITY COST: Taxpayers will devote another $360,000 to Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s security detail next fiscal year, even as the suburb faces a $300 million shortfall that he proposed filling largely by slashing employee benefits, reports Brian Hughes for the Washington Examiner.

JUDGE BACKS LEGGETT: A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge Friday ruled in favor of County Executive Ike Leggett in a sharp dispute over collective bargaining, saying Leggett is not required to back a budget he opposes, the Post’s Michael Laris reports.

LESLIE JOHNSON CASE: In Leslie Johnson’s Prince George’s County Council district, which she has represented since December, last Wednesday was to have been a day of reckoning, when she would enter a plea in the her husband’s corruption case that ensnared her. Now, with the hearing canceled, her constituents are thrown into limbo, writes Miranda Spivack for the Post.

CARROLL COMMISSIONERS SAVINGS: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that the current Carroll County Board of Commissioners has claimed to save more than $164,000 by restructuring the county commissioners’ office, but the actual savings is about $100,000 less than that.

DUTCH ON BIN LADEN: U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger speaks to senior citizens on the U.S. attack on Osama bin Laden. John Rydell of WBFF-TV was there.

MD AGENCIES AIDED KILLING: Observers of the U.S. intelligence community say credit for Osama bin Laden’s killing also belongs to two Maryland-based intelligence agencies: the NSA in Fort Meade, which scours global communications for clues, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Bethesda, which provides mapping and other information, reports Scott Calvert for the Sun.

Click here to see footage of bin Laden taken from his hideout. And here’s footage supposedly of bin Laden training in judo in the 1980s plus an interview with his former coach.

TRANSFORMING FORT HOWARD: Veterans Affairs officials hope to turn Fort Howard, the once-bustling 95-acre military hub on a Baltimore County peninsula with stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Patapsco River, from a rundown, desolate site into a veterans community with mixed-income housing, health care and amenities such as restaurants and museums, reports the Sun’s Yeganeh June Torbati.

Click here to see not only the development plans but photos of Fort Howard as it stands today.

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