August 12, 2011

State Roundup, August 12, 2011

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ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE: After the economic cataclysm of the last week, Maryland leaders are reassuring themselves of the state’s economic and financial stability, reports The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

BALTIMORE LOSES IN REDISTRICTING: With a population scattering to the suburbs, Baltimore is likely to lose some General Assembly seats to redistricting. But where will the new lines be drawn? The Sun’s Annie Linskey reports.

VAN HOLLEN ON SUPERCOMMITTEE: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tapped Rep. Chris Van Hollen to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey. Van Hollen, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the committee should focus on job creation.

The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford talked to state political analysts and insiders about what his selection means.

HOUSE GOP LEADERSHIP: Del. Nic Kipke and Del. Michael Smigiel may challenge House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio for their leadership positions in the House of Delegates, reports Mark Newgent of Red Maryland.

The Sun’s Annie Linskey reports that a leadership shift like this one would move the caucus to the right.

REQUEST FOR WITHDRAWAL: Del. Pat McDonough, one of the leaders of the petition drive to bring tuition for undocumented immigrants to referendum, thinks that the judge assigned to the case should withdraw since his ruling in a similar case dealing with the validity of referendum petitions was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com. Sears blogs about the previous case here.

MACO FUNDRAISERS, PARTIES: Previewing next week’s Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach looks at the parties, fundraisers and workshops that will be going on.

STATE UNPREPARED: In his weekly column for the Gazette, Blair Lee writes that Maryland is unprepared for the federal debt crisis and its ramifications locally.

DOME RESTORATION ON SCHEDULE: Underneath the scaffolding, the $787,000 refurbishment of the State House dome is on schedule to be completed in October, reports The Capital’s Earl Kelly.

SCHAEFER DEATH THREATS: Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer received death threats that were investigated by the FBI and by Maryland law enforcement at least three times during his five decades in office, reports Megan Eckstein of the Frederick News Post.

UMB-UMCP MERGER: University officials will spend the fall semester working with a task force to study the potential merger of University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park, reports Leah Villanueva of The Diamondback.

STOP CHIMP RESEARCH: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a former Navy physiologist, wrote a letter to the New York Times opposing invasive medical research on chimpanzees, and has sponsored legislation to do it.

CENSUS STATS: The Gazette’s Margie Hyslop looks at some of the more interesting facts from the Census, like the state’s longest commute, and richest and poorest counties.

ONE-SIDED DEBATE: MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick blogs about criticism that the tax-flight debate has been one-sided.

BWI BODY SLAM: The Washington Examiner’s opinionators write several reasons why Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington Airport is getting so popular – and continuing to beat Dulles Airport in popularity and passengers.

HOUSING NOT AFFORDABLE: The Gazette’s Margie Hyslop writes about how the rental market in Maryland is one of the nation’s most expensive.

SOLAR DEAL: In his weekly Gazette column, Barry Rascovar looks at the lease deal approved last month by the Board of Public Works for Maryland Solar – under former O’Malley chief of staff Michael Enright – to operate a private solar farm on state land.

LEGGETT PUSHES CUTS: Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is asking counties to cut  $150 million in construction projects over the next six years so that the county can retain its AAA rating, reports Rachel Baye of the Examiner.

County Council members tell the Gazette’s Erin Cunningham that the economic outlook leaves them no choice but to cut spending.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY REDISTRICTING: Montgomery County residents speaking at the public hearing on redistricting said that the current lines are gerrymandered to help minorities win, reports the Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

CARROLL BRAC BENEFITS: Carroll County Board of Commissioners President Doug Howard pitched the county as a great place for business during a Base Realignment and Closure Business Initiative meeting because of its central location between Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade, and Fort Detrick, reports Jim Joyner of Patuxent Publishing.

CECIL POPULATION GROWING: Cecil County is seeing population growth – in numbers, in the amount of diverse residents, and in the average age of its residents, reports Jacob Owen of the Cecil Whig.

$700M NEEDED FOR UMCP: University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace Loh said that in order to fix structural damage to campus buildings, the university needs $700 million worth of improvements, reports The Gazette’s Andrew Ujifusa.

JOBS TO BALTIMORE: The Baltimore Business Journal’s Jack Lambert shares some of the ways that four Democratic mayoral candidates intend to bring more jobs to the city.

PUGH PUSHES POLICE AUDIT: Sen. Catherine Pugh, a candidate for Baltimore mayor, announced she wants to audit the Baltimore City Police Department and start violence prevention programs for young people – initiatives which incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said are a “stolen public safety plan,” reports The Sun’s Julie Scharper.

NO MORE BACKGROUND CHECKS: Laurel City Council struck down a law passed last year that subjected all candidates for public office to a rigorous background check, and made those who spent time in jail ineligible to serve in local office, reports the Laurel Leader’s Gwendolyn Glenn.

GAZETTE NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s political staff brings us bats on the loose in the State House; Frank Conaway hopes to rap his way to office; and poetry at Board of Public Works.