August 10, 2011

State Roundup, August 10, 2011

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STATE CONFIDENT ON AAA: Despite recent warnings, writes the Post’s Aaron Davis, Gov. Martin O’Malley and state finance officials expressed optimism yesterday that the state may be spared a credit downgrade in the wake of Standard and Poor’s decision to cut its rating on long-term U.S. debt.

Gus Sentementes of the Sun reports that Maryland’s treasurer is confident that the state’s AAA credit rating will not change as a result of Standard & Poor’s historic downgrade of the federal government’s rating.

With the nation’s economy in the balance, the future may largely depend on the confidence of consumers to spend and businesses to hire and expand, which hasn’t been robust for years, Eileen Ambrose, Liz Kay and Andrea Walker write for the Sun.

STOCKS REBOUND: Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that Baltimore-area stocks rebounded sharply yesterday, regaining some of their losses after a broad sell-off Monday that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial average down 634 points in the first day of trading after Standard & Poor’s downgraded U.S. debt.

O’MALLEY VS. CHURCH: WBFF’s Jeff Abell follows up on the story about Gov. O’Malley who is under fire for switching his stand on gay marriage. He’s no stranger to political fights but now he’s at odds with his very own church.

BOMB SQUADS’ UNITY: Several voluntary efforts by Maryland’s seven bomb squad units became official procedure yesterday after Gov. O’Malley signed an executive order formalizing practices of joint training and mutual aid.

EDUCATION WAIVER: A recent revelation that federal officials will offer waivers from controversial nationwide education requirements has drawn praise from the Maryland education department and Montgomery County, Andrew Ujifusa reports for the Gazette.

DELEGATE SUES SHERIFF: Del. Richard Impallaria has filed a lawsuit against the Harford County sheriff, claiming towing companies are committing “theft” and “extortion” and the county’s chief law enforcement officer should do something about it. This is the latest turn in the legislator’s dispute with Harford County towing companies and Sheriff Jesse Bane that began early in 2010 when Impallaria’s Ford Ranger was wrecked in a two-car accident and towed.

SAVING THE BLUE CRAB: A new study says that raising the number of female crabs from about 160 million to 215 million is key to sustaining the crab population in the Chesapeake Bay and perhaps bringing it back to its previous strength of 828 million. But the state of Virginia is facing pressure from its watermen and others to loosen restrictions, reports Darryl Frears for the Post.

The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler writes that fisheries regulators say the study suggests that there’s no room to relax catch limits — and that tighter curbs on the harvest of female crabs might be warranted.

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris went trotlining with one Maryland waterman yesterday and talked about building bridges to Annapolis to help the fishing industry, writes Kelly Allen for the Easton Star Democrat.

BAY BRIDGE WORK: The $19.5 million project to repaint the westbound Bay Bridge began a few weeks ago. But the majority of maintenance – set to be completed in fall 2012 – will be performed from the water to minimize its effect on traffic, reports Katie Moritz for the Annapolis Capital.

REDISTRICTING MEETING CHANGE: The Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee’s plan to hold public hearings around the state ran into a hitch in the Baltimore metro area, writes Barbara Pash for MarylandReporter.com. Of the two hearings scheduled there, both conflicted with the Jewish Sabbath, an unexpected problem that has since been resolved by starting Friday’s hearing earlier.

ECONOMY DOMINATES: Dustin Holt of the Easton Star Democrat writes that the dismal economy dominated a town hall meeting yesterday morning hosted by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris.

TAX FLIGHT REALITY: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that MarylandReporter.com reader Mark Gaver, a Frederick County businessman, is among readers who scoffed at an article from last week on a study that claimed that tax flight was a myth. Gaver intends to make his second home, in Florida, a permanent home and just may move his business – he gets federal contracts — down there as well.

FREDERICK CHARTER BOARD: As Frederick County considers altering its form of government, its Charter Board needs to uncover what parts of other counties’ charters work well, facilitate good government and serve the people. Members also need to look for aspects of other charter governments that hamper effective governance, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post.

RUN FOR COUNTY EXEC: Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig reports that Tari Moore, a Republican who won her first election as county commissioner less than two years ago, has announced her plans to file for the newly created office of Cecil County executive in the 2012 election.