State Roundup, September 8, 2011

September 08, 2011 at 7:52 am

STATE CENTER BATTLE: Opponents of the $1.5 billion State Center project yesterday filed a motion to dismiss the state’s counterclaim seeking $100 million from downtown property and business owners it blames for stalling the project, which would be built along Preston Street over 15 years, writes Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun.

BGE & IRENE: State lawmakers are calling for a deeper look into Baltimore Gas & Electric’s response to Hurricane Irene, which left hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity — and ratepayers and public officials fuming about the utility’s restoration efforts, writes Hanah Cho of the Sun.

And the editorial board of the Annapolis Capital is urging the Public Service Commission to take a steely-eyed look at BGE’s actions during Irene.

BAY & IRENE: Sarah Meehan of the Capital News Service reports that DNR officials are saying that Hurricane Irene’s high winds breathed a little life into the polluted Chesapeake Bay, bringing some short-term relief to wildlife by temporarily eliminating the estuary’s vast dead zone. The story appears in the Salisbury Daily Times.

NUCLEAR PLANTS & IRENE: Meghan Russell of SoMdNews.com writes that Hurricane Irene and an earlier earthquake have spurred nuclear critics to bring up the issue of plant safety – including at Calvert Cliffs – once again, though industry leaders maintain that U.S. plants are safe and stable, built to withstand the worst natural disasters.

HIGH COST OF NO GAS TAX: If the federal gas tax is not renewed, Maryland would lose $45 million to $65 million in federal funds per month, which would impact 700 direct and indirect jobs, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

Here’s an AP story from the Daily Record.

PENSION IMPERILS MD: The pension systems in Maryland and Virginia remain a huge liability for already beleaguered state budgets, writes Brian Hughes for the Washington Examiner, and the peril is growing as state officials bank on extremely optimistic investment returns during uncertain economic times to pay off soaring retirement costs.

PORT & PLANMARYLAND: People connected to the maritime industry say the Port of Baltimore has been left out of PlanMaryland, the state proposed regulations to control growth, Mark Smith writes in the Business Monthly.

O’MALLEY TAKES SWIPE AT CHRISTIE: Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has thrown repeated punches at New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie in recent months, took another swing yesterday as Christie was elevated to vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, John Wagner blogs for the Post. O’Malley is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

GAY MARRIAGE: Gov. O’Malley is urging supporters of gay marriage rights in Maryland to engage in the goodness of people who don’t yet agree with them to advance the greater good of equal rights under the law, Jenny Glick of WBAL-AM reports.

AIRPORT EXPANSION: Susan Kim at the Business Monthly reports on the economic impact of the $10 million contract to upgrade the terminal areas at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

EMERGENCY MORTGAGE PLAN: The Board of Public Works has approved $350,000 to give a last push to advertising the Maryland Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

APPEALS COURT APPLICANT: Saying that there is no one from Western Maryland on the Court of Special Appeals, Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley is among 20 applicants seeking to fill a vacancy on the state’s second highest court. Don Aines of the Hagerstown Herald Mail profiles Beachley.

GROWING FARMING: Mark Powell, head of marketing for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, is interviewed by Mark Smith of the Business Monthly.

DEBT REDUCTION: Jay Hancock of the Sun follows up on a WMAR story about U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who is introducing a bill to set up a separate federal fund to protect donations of those who want to reduce the federal debt.

INSURING THE UNINSURED: Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal that health care lobbyist Vincent DeMarco and his group, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, are helping to launch a new national coalition aimed at getting health coverage to the uninsured, with its Enroll America efforts to formally begin Sept. 14.

SLOTS SIGN STEALER FINED: A Glen Burnie man accused of stealing dozens of pro-slot machine signs before last year’s general election was fined $5,000 yesterday in District Court, Tim Pratt of the Annapolis Capital reports.

SIMONAIRE MAY RUN: State Sen. Bryan Simonaire announced yesterday that he’s considering a run for Anne Arundel County executive in 2014, blogs Andy Rosen of the Sun.

COSBY STUMPS FOR ROLLEY: Comedian Bill Cosby joked with seniors, marched through Mondawmin Mall and dropped by Northeast Baltimore homes yesterday to stump for Baltimore mayoral candidate Otis Rolley, Julie Scharper reports for the Sun. Click on the video link above the story to view Cosby in action.

Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew also reports on Cosby’s visit.

CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS: The Baltimore Sun editorial board makes its Baltimore City Council endorsements, and not all go to the incumbents.

JOURNALISM’S FUTURE: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com traveled down to the Newseum yesterday to listen to Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth ponder the future of traditional journalism in the digital age during the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism.

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