State Roundup, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011 at 6:44 am

TUITION PETITIONERS CONFIDENT: Del. Neil Parrott, who is hoping to overturn a new law granting in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, says his group has collected more than the minimum number of signatures for an early deadline, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

TRADE WITH ASIA: Marylanders familiar with Asian cultural dynamics all agree: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 10-day trade mission to China, South Korea and Vietnam that begins next Tuesday will be worth the time, effort and money spent, because the trip will reap both economic rewards and “guan-xi,” writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

BOOZE TAX: Revenue estimates are often wildly wrong and frequently lead to bigger deficits as higher spending becomes imbedded in the state budget even if the money expected from new fees or taxes does not materialize, writes columnist Marta Mossburg for the Frederick News Post. She is writing specifically about the recently instituted alcohol tax hike.

TOLL PASS: Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV reports about the proposed toll increases to Maryland bridges and tunnels, focusing on who gets a pass and who doesn’t.

PENSION FUNDING PROPOSAL: A proposal to change the funding method for state pensions that will reduce state contributions to the system and delay reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities was criticized by two private sector representatives on the special commission studying retirement benefits, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

CRABBING LIMITS: Maryland watermen could hear this week whether crabbing harvest regulations will be changed, according to an AP story in the Salisbury Daily Times. State officials say changes could include higher fall bushel limits for female crabs and opening of a June closure period for female crabs to take advantage of higher June crab prices.

BROWN AGAINST BULLYING: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has joined first lady Katie O’Malley and the governor in launching an anti-bullying program. He’ll be at an Edgewater school today to discuss the program, according to an AP report at WMAR-TV.

CITY SLOTS PLAN BLASTED: Potential bidders for the license to run the slots casino proposed for Baltimore say the deal the state and city are offering would make it nearly impossible to make a profit, reports Julie Scharper for the Sun.

ARUNDEL SLOTS WORK: Nicole Fuller of the Sun reporters that residents near Arundel Mills mall say they rely on a nearby stadium and its surrounding park for outdoor recreation, but their access has been limited by workers and contractors using the area for parking as mall spots are consumed by the construction of a massive casino.

GOVERNORS TO MEET: Maryland Gov. O’Malley is playing host to four of his counterparts from around the country and more than 200 donors to the Democratic Governors Association at a conference that began Tuesday night in Cambridge, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

MIKULSKI ATTACKS GOP PLAN: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski led a group of female senators in opposing a Republican budget plan approved by the House of Representatives, arguing that the measure’s proposed overhaul of Medicare would adversely affect women, blog JohnFritze of the Sun.

GOP SENATE CANDIDATE: Brian Murphy, the conservative Republican who ran against Bob Ehrlich in last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary, has a candidate in mind to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin in 2012. The one thing he can confirm: It isn’t him, blog John Fritze as Murphy readies tomorrow’s announcement.

RASKIN TO CHAIR: The eight-member Montgomery County Senate delegation has a new chairman in Jamie Raskin, reports Alan Brody of the Gazette.

VIAGRA FUND: The Montgomery County Council president is defending the council’s decision to spend $400,000 a year to restore funding for Viagra for the county’s male employees, reports Erin Cunningham for the Gazette.

COUNCIL BACK TAXES: The Gazette’s Cunningham also reports that two Montgomery County Council members – one is the council president – owe thousands in unpaid taxes.

PUGH IN THE RUN: Alan Brody of the Gazette reports that state Sen. Catherine Pugh has sent out a fundraiser invitation listing her as a “candidate for Baltimore City Mayor,” the clearest indication yet that the two-term senator will join an already-large field of mayoral hopefuls.

ARUNDEL BUDGET PASSES: The Anne Arundel County Council raised the county property tax rate yesterday, writes Nicole Fuller of the Sun, as it passed a budget plan that includes a steep funding decrease to the county’s community college and delays a new facility for one of its most academically successful high schools.

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