State Roundup, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011 at 7:40 am

PLAN REVISITED: The state Department of Planning will be giving PlanMaryland a second look after county officials expressed concern during the recently concluded Maryland Association of Counties conference, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PLANMARYLAND PROS, CONS: Sun opinionators write, that for all the carping from local leaders, PlanMaryland attempts to provide incentives for counties to make smarter development choices in the future. Want to allow development outside designated growth areas? Fine, but don’t expect the state taxpayer to pick up the bill for the requisite water and sewer extensions, roads and schools.

The editorial board for the Frederick News Post looks on the practical side of the situation and writes that although the ultimate goal is to encourage smart and sustainable land use depending on the will of the governor, PlanMaryland could be used as political honey to drip largesse on jurisdictions, or as a cudgel to punish counties who dare step out of line.

QUAKE ACTION: Following yesterday’s unusual 5.9 magnitude earthquake, Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a statement saying, “There are no reports of significant damage or incidents and we will continue to monitor the situation closely, particularly over the next 24 to 48 hours.” This comes from the Sun.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake issued a press release saying government workers would be assessing city bridges and government buildings for possible structural damage, writes Tyler Waldman in Patch.com.

INFANT MORTALITY: Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports that, after moving aggressively to make a dent in Maryland’s stubbornly high infant mortality rate, city and state officials plan to announce today a significant drop, to the lowest level on record.

PASSAGE TO INDIA: Gov. Martin O’Malley said today that his office is planning a trade mission to India, an expedition that would be the governor’s second international trip this year aimed at promoting Maryland businesses abroad, the Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs.

FISCAL FANTASY: Writing for the Frederick News Post, columnist Marta Mossburg says that in comparing Maryland’s fiscal situation favorably to Virginia’s, Gov. O’Malley has stepped into the world of fantasy.

MEDICARE CUTS: A new rule cutting Medicare reimbursements for skilled nursing facilities may cost the state’s nursing homes $89 million this fiscal year, reports Barbara Pash for MarylandReporter.com.

BAY GRANTS: Conservation grants announced by federal agriculture officials include funding for Chesapeake Bay programs, according to an AP report in the Annapolis Capital.

SCENIC BYWAYS: U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski have announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded several grants to the state to help preserve and enhance three historic scenic byways in the state under the National Scenic Byways Program, according to the Easton Star Democrat.

FREDERICK ON DEVELOPMENT: The Frederick County Commissioners might join forces with leaders in nearby counties to push back against aspects of the Maryland governor’s land-use plan, a document they fear could erode local authority if carried out, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

Meanwhile, reports Sherry Greenfield for the Gazette, Frederick County wants developers, not county employees, to handle the contracts, inspections and supervision of new water and sewer construction projects for 18 months under a proposed new pilot program.

ADA COMPLIANCE IN MO CO: Montgomery County will be working with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve access to public facilities for people with disabilities, reports Andrew Ujifusa for the Gazette.

OT IN MO CO: The Gazette’s Ujifusa also reports that Montgomery County department heads say overtime costs that exceeded budgets last year were driven in part by not having enough employees.

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