June 15, 2011

State Roundup, June 15, 2011

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O’MALLEY ASIA TRIP: Gov. Martin O’Malley and members of the near-70-member delegation that joined him on a trip to China, Vietnam and Korea this month shared their positive experiences – mostly in the form of new business agreements – with reporters on Tuesday, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.

David Hill of the Washington Times reports that O’Malley’s 10-day trip secured more than $85 million in foreign investments.

A full accounting of how taxpayer dollars were spent on the trip is forthcoming, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey. Meanwhile, the governor shared his impressions at speedy development in Asia – and described a visit to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

O’Malley’s one regret? That he didn’t make the trip earlier, according to an Associated Press report in The Daily Record. Here’s John Wagner’s account of the governor’s Asia trip.

BWI TAXIS: On the eve of an anticipated final decision on a controversial taxi franchise contract, cab drivers from BWI Marshall Airport protested in the airport’s holding lot, reports The Sun’s Liz Kay. They also drove to Annapolis, and the cabs filled State Circle, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

Columnist Jay Hancock writes in the Sun about the merits of having deregulated airport taxis.

CONVENTION CENTER STUDY: The Maryland Stadium Authority voted on Tuesday to go forward with a $150,000 feasibility study to build a downtown arena and expand the Baltimore Convention Center – requested by both Gov. O’Malley and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – but they want the city to pick up part of the tab, reports The Sun’s Edward Gunts.

DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED HAVE LONG WAIT: Thousands of developmentally disabled people are on long waiting lists for government assistance and services, and the new alcohol tax will only help one in 10 of them, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski.

D IN MANUFACTURING: A new study from Ball State University looking at business, economic, and logistical climate gives Maryland a D in manufacturing, reports the Baltimore Business Journal.

ETHANOL SUBSIDIES: U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin both opposed an effort in Congress to end ethanol subsidies because of procedural issues, writes The Sun’s John Fritze. Both senators support the measure in principle.

O’MALLEY’S TRAVELS: Gov. Martin O’Malley travels to Chicago for a conference of Democratic governors and next to a speech in Utah, John Wagner reports in the Washington Post blog.

O’Malley will headline a fundraiser for the Utah Democratic Party next month, blogs The Sun’s Annie Linskey. He will already be in town for a National Governors Association meeting.

ROCKY GAP SLOTS: Opinionators at the Cumberland Times-News run down the problems in the past for getting a contract to open a slots casino at Rocky Gap, and wonder if new incentives passed by the General Assembly can help the casino finally become established.

BALTIMORE COUNTY REPUBLICAN PROBLEMS: The Sun’s Raven Hill details confusion and issues left behind following the resignation of county party chairman Tony Campbell.

NEW CARS FOR AA COUNTY: Anne Arundel County spent $80,000 on three new Ford Expeditions, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller. The new vehicles, which replace older ones, are for the small fleet of cars that can be driven by County Executive John Leopold and his security detail.

TAX EXEMPTION REVOKED: Almost 6,200 Maryland tax-exempt entities had their status revoked because they did not file with the IRS for three years in a row, reports The Sun’s Eileen Ambrose. The Baltimore Business Journal has a full listing of them here.

INSURANCE PAYMENTS: John Hancock Insurance will turn over $4 million in annuity payments that belong to Maryland residents, reports Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal.

MILITARY PROJECTS: The U.S. House of Representatives approved $230 million worth of military projects in the Baltimore area, mostly around Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade, reports Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal.

BALTIMORE BUDGET: City Council members approved the $1.3 billion budget proposed by Mayor Rawlings-Blake, but the budget did not already have support of the council’s Appropriations Committee, reports The Sun’s Julie Scharper.

TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION MEETING: The Maryland Association of Counties’ Conduit Street blog posted a rundown of this week’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding meeting, where federal authorization, state infrastructure banks, and public-private partnerships were discussed.

CIRCUIT COURT CASH: Baltimore City Circuit Court left $7.8 million in overdue accounts uncollected, $1 million in case fees unbilled, and had records in disarray, according to a report from the Office of Legislative Audits, reports the Sun’s Tricia Bishop.

LEGGETT PULLS OUT OF PROBE: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett pulled the county out of participation in a Public Services Commission probe into Pepco service reliability, reports The Examiner’s Rachel Baye. The county will submit its own report.

E-VERIFY IN CARROLL: The Carroll County commissioners voted to require contractors to the county to use the federal E-verify system to certify that employees have legal immigration status, Christian Alexandersen reports in the Carroll County Times.

FREEDOM STUDY: Marta Mossburg in her Frederick News-Post gives her take on Maryland’s low freedom rankings in the Mercatus Center study.