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Published on July 11th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, July 11, 2011

STATE CENTER: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that proponents of the plan to redevelop Baltimore city’s largest state government complex gathered Saturday to pledge that the project’s benefits would be shared among surrounding communities and disputed a recent report by the conservative-leaning Maryland Public Policy Institute critical of the roughly $1.5 billion State Center project.

But as the plan moves forward, Adam May of WJZ-TV reports, another group is ramping up efforts to stop it.

ENTERPRISE ZONE EXPANSION: Nick Sohr reports for the Daily Record that the state will expand zones in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and on the Eastern Shore where businesses are eligible for tax credits for making property improvements and hiring new workers.

The Baltimore County enterprise zone, known as Federal Center at Woodlawn Enterprise Zone, includes about 395 acres of industrial and office property, reports Jeff Seidel of Patch.com.

POOR JUDICIAL PAY: When adjusted for cost of living, Maryland’s judges are some of the worst paid in the nation, according to a study from the National Center for State Courts, writes MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski. Here’s the study results.

INTERNET SALES TAX: Merchants like Nelson Coleman Jewelers are cheering Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to look at the “sales tax loophole” for Internet goods. Unfortunately, writes Jay Hancock for the Sun, sales tax parity for Internet and Main Street merchants is probably years away in Maryland and elsewhere, as O’Malley will find out.

AFSCME NON-MEMBER FEE: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest union of state workers, has set its nonmember fee at $13.84 per biweekly pay period — roughly a dollar less than full-fledged members pay, Julie Bykowicz blogs for the Sun.

JOIN THE (WINE) CLUB FLUB: The California Wine Club began wooing Marylanders to join its membership to take advantage of the state’s new law allowing wine to be shipped directly to consumers, blogs Julie Bykowicz for the Sun. The problem is that only wineries are allowed to ship. Wine clubs and out-of-state stores are not.

REDISTRICTING SESSION: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that the all-Republican delegation representing Carroll County in the General Assembly is concerned Democrats may try to slip in issues not related to the main purpose of the upcoming special session – redistricting.

Following a Washington Post story from last week, Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner writes that U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maryland’s most influential lawmaker, is set to lose the most constituents through redistricting.

The editorial board of the Carroll County Times opines that Republicans in Maryland should keep close tabs on the progress of a committee appointed to draw new congressional and legislative district lines, with its five-member committee made up mostly of Democrats.

As the panel meets to discuss redistricting, writes the Salisbury Daily Times editorial board, one important issue for the Eastern Shore is resident delegates. Caroline County does not currently have one, and both Somerset and Wicomico counties could plausibly end up without a resident delegate in any election.

DREAM REFERENDUM: Supporters of a successful petition to overturn a law granting in-state college tuition to some undocumented immigrants say they will continue their campaign until the measure appears on the ballot in November 2012, Nicholas Stern reports for the Frederick News Post.

Carroll County residents also joined the drive to petition Maryland’s DREAM Act to referendum, reports Vanessa Junkin of the Carroll County Times.

WEB SIGS NOT MAJORITY: Del. Pat McDonough, who helped make downloadable forms available online to help spearhead a drive to overturn the law that grants in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants, said website submissions did not make up the majority of signatures his group collected, reports Sarah Breitenbach for SoMdNews.com.

A LITTLE 4th FIREWORKS: The Sun’s Laura Vozzella offers up an interesting exchange that took place during the Dundalk 4th of July Parade between Gov. O’Malley, who was in the parade, and former Ehrlich aide Greg Massoni, who was watching from the sidelines with lobbyist Bruce Bereano and former Gov. Marvin Mandel, both of whom had been charged years ago with mail fraud.

O’MALLEY ASSERTION: Mark Newgent at RedMaryland critiques Gov. Martin O’Malley’s comment to Bel Air Patch.com that he “cut the state budget more than any governor in Maryland history.”

DEL. BOSCHERT FUNERAL: The funeral of former Del. David Boschert commanded governors, a grand show of respect for a life devoted to public service, Earl Kelly writes for the Annapolis Capital. But it was a modest, quiet moment that best conveyed the magnitude of the loss, a private display of emotion that served as a touching goodbye to a political mentor and a good friend.

MINNICK’S RAID: Steve Kilar and Julie Baughman report for the Sun that Baltimore County police are likely to file charges in their investigation of the use of electronic gambling devices at a Dundalk bar co-owned by state Del. Sonny Minnick, but what the charges would be and who would be charged remain unclear.

ENVIRONMENT DEFENDER: Sun opinionators write that for those who long for clean water, breathable air and perhaps even a healthy Chesapeake Bay, there’s at least one public figure willing to fight for your cause, and she’s a former chemical engineer who has never held elected office – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

THOROUGHBRED SUBSIDIES: The Sun’s John Fritze reports that the battle over the federal budget came galloping toward Maryland’s thoroughbred farms when U.S. Senate Democrats, already threatening to end tax breaks on corporate jets, high-priced yachts and hedge funds, also proposed eliminating a $126 million tax carve-out for the nation’s horse racing industry.

POULTRY SALES: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, during a statewide jobs tour that included visits to watermen and poultry producers, said the first thing the poultry leaders told her to do is fight for a trade policy to allow Maryland farmers to sell chickens around the world, reports Dustin Holt of the Easton Star Democrat. “I will be fighting for those trade agreements that open the doors to Maryland’s poultry and seafood industries,” she said.

TELESCOPE FUNDING: John Fritze, blogging for the Sun, reports that Rep. Hoyer sent a letter Friday to members of the House Appropriations Committee asking them to reconsider the decision to strip funding for the James Webb Space Telescope at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

FRANKING, MY DEAR: As a candidate, Andy Harris criticized then-U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil for sending unsolicited mail to constituents at the expense of taxpayers. But in his first three months as a congressman, Harris made as much use if not more of the franking privilege for mass mailings and electronic communication as his predecessor did during his, Nicole Gaudiano writes for the Salisbury Daily Times.

OBAMA ALTERS POLICY: A change in presidential policy regarding military personnel who commit suicide brings comfort to a Maryland mother, writes Eric Hartley for the Annapolis Capital.

CEO SALARIES RISE: Chief executives of publicly traded companies in Maryland – and across corporate America – saw their compensation rebound in 2010 as profits came back and the stock market recovered much of the ground it lost in the recession, reports Hanah Cho of the Sun.

Here’s a searchable database of Maryland companies that paid their CEOS at least $1 million last year. Leave the fields blank then hit entire to get the entire list.

Want to know what it looks like to receive more than $1 million in salary and compensation? The Sun compiled this photo gallery. And here are the highest earners in 2009.

FREDERICK GOVERNMENT: Writing for the Frederick News Post, Don Kornreich opines that it seems that if the Frederick County Board of Commissioners considers itself a “lame-duck” administration to be replaced by a new form of government, it should delay privatizing any agencies and leave it to the new government to decide how to perform the county services for which it will become responsible.

ETHICS RESTRICTIONS: Ethics restrictions on a Frederick County commissioner could be lifted if the county government changes the way it handles and inspects developer-funded projects, reports Meg Tully for the Frederick News Post.

HOMAN INJURED IN FALL: Long-time Baltimore County government budget director and current county administrative officer Fred Homan was seriously injured in a fall from a horse, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

JOHNSON TURNS IN EQUIPMENT: Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson appears to be sticking with her plan to stay in office until July 31, but on Friday she complied with her fellow council members’ requests to turn in her county car, cellphone, laptop and parking pass, blogs Miranda Spivack for the Post.

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