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Published on August 3rd, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, August 3, 2011

CARDIN HOLDS OUT: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin rarely embraces drama, but as the denouement of the debt ceiling debate played out yesterday, the Maryland Democrat became something of a mystery — undecided up until the very last minute on how he would vote, writes John Fritze of the Post. Click here to watch a video of the Senate vote.

WHAT’S NEXT: Michael Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, announced that Social Security payments for Aug. 3 will be made on time, as will those for Aug. 10, 17 and 24, according to a story in the Cumberland Times News.

John Wagner of the Post reports that a memo circulating in the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday listed both “good news” and “bad news” for Maryland from the federal debt deal cut by Congress and signed by President Obama.

Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that defense and health care companies could see less government spending as part of the deal to raise the ceiling on the national debt, and that may hamper the price of stocks in those industries, according to Legg Mason portfolio manager Sam Peters.

The United States stepped back from the brink of default but congressional approval of a last-ditch deficit-cutting plan failed to dispel fears of a credit downgrade and future tax and spending feuds, Andy Sullivan and Jeff Mason write in a Reuters story that runs in the Sun.

With tongue in check, columnist Marta Mossburg of the Frederick News Post offers several suggestions to help save Maryland when federal spending is cut by 22%.

DREAM ACT PETITION SUIT: Two of the nine plaintiffs who are taking a petition drive to overturn Maryland’s DREAM Act to court are undocumented immigrants from Anne Arundel County, writes Earl Kelly for the Annapolis Capital. According to the complaint, they also qualify for in-state tuition, as provided under the law passed earlier this year.

LONE REPUBLICAN: Annapolis Capital columnist Eric Hartley profiles James King, the lone Republican on the governor’s once-a-decade redistricting committee. King said he was honored to be asked to serve, but immediately wary.

WINE AT FARMERS MARKETS: Boordy Vineyards made its debut appearance at the Arbutus Farmers Market thanks to a law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in May that allows vintners to sell bottles of wine at farmers markets in Baltimore County and any other county that has approved farmers market sales of wine, writes Brian Conlin for Patuxent Publishing.

AVOID SALES TAX: In response to a MarylandReporter.com story on $2.6 billion in new taxes proposed by a policy research group, Del. Ron George of Annapolis offers up a slue of emails from constituents who claim that not only do they already shop across state lines to avoid Maryland sales taxes, some are considering moving, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter.com.

AA COUNCILMAN CHARGED: Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones was charged yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore with failing to file tax returns in 2005, Nicole Fuller writes in the Sun.

SPECIAL PRIMARIES IN PG SET: Miranda Spivack of the Post blogs that the Prince George’s County Council set Sept. 20 for Democratic and Republican primaries to replace County Council member Leslie Johnson, whose resignation took effect Sunday.

The Gazette’s Daniel Valentine writes that candidates running for the vacant seat have until Aug. 23 to file for the primary, which will be followed by a general election on Oct. 18.

LOCAL ETHICS RULES: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post decries the Frederick County Commissioners for choosing the least restrictive set of ethics rules to govern itself and put before the public for a hearing, and urges them to tighten the rules beyond what the state requires.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County officials are examining the county’s ethics regulations to ensure they comply with the new state law requiring county and municipal elected officials, as well as members of boards of education, to fill out more detailed financial information, Erin Cunningham reports for the Gazette. Under the change, the requirements for local elected leaders would be the same as or go beyond those for members of the Maryland General Assembly, which approved the law last year.

BEST POLITICAL BLOG: The Fix, the lead political blog at The Washington Post, has named MarylandReporter.com as one of “best state-based political blogs” in the nation, based on a poll of its readers. MarylandReporter.com shares honors with Red Maryland, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

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