September 13, 2011

State Roundup, September 13, 2011

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BOOZE TAX REVENUE: An AP report in the Daily Record says that Maryland raised roughly $6 million in added revenue in July from a 50% increase in the state’s sales tax on alcohol.

TAX INCREASES CONSIDERED: The Maryland Senate Budget & Taxation Committee is examining tax and fee increases that would generate much-needed revenue for the state’s depleted transportation fund, as lawmakers prepare to head into an October special session at least $800 million short of what they need to meet Maryland’s transportation needs, writes Hayley Peterson for the Washington Examiner.

PLANMARYLAND REVISED: The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach reports that local government officials and citizens have 60 days to offer feedback on revisions to PlanMaryland, which is designed to control growth in Maryland. A new draft gives more authority to local governments and sets specific benchmarks for measuring growth and preservation.

NEW PENSION SYSTEM CIO: MarylandReporter.com reports that the state Retirement and Pension System will hold on to Melissa Moye, naming her the system’s permanent chief investment officer – the position she has held in an acting capacity for 10 months.

CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ISSUES:  The Child Support Enforcement Administration left millions uncollected by not utilizing all of the tools it had to collect unpaid funds, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

BUCKS SPENT WISELY: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post writes funds wisely spent on defense against and response to terrorist attacks and natural disasters of all kinds will pay worthwhile dividends should misfortune strike.

TIGHTER CONTROLS: State agencies and Maryland nonprofits receiving federal grants will face even more requirements for transparency and accountability under a new board created by President Obama, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget told a grants conference in College Park, according to Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

NEW PSC MEMBERS: Gov. Martin O’Malley swore in two new members of the Public Service Commission yesterday – Kevin Hughes and Kelly Speakes-Backman, according to an AP story in the Annapolis Capital.

SEPTEMBER COURT DATES: The Post’s Aaron Davis blogs that with the delays of the trials of several noted Maryland politicos, the pall that was soon to be lifted over state politics will hang heavy a while longer.

CURRIE TRIAL: The original proposal for a consulting arrangement between state Sen. Ulysses Currie and a grocery chain — now the subject of an upcoming bribery trial — was written with the assistance of Timothy Maloney, a prominent Maryland lawyer and former state delegate, blogs John Wagner of the Sun.

30% CUT WON’T FLY: The Gazette’s Ken Weiss reports that Maryland U.S. senators say that a U.S. House Republican plan to cut 30% of federal public transportation funding in fiscal 2012 will not make it through the Senate.

CUMMINGS SEEKS MURDOCH 9/11 PROBE: The Sun’s John Fritze blogs that on the day after the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings joined seven other Democrats in renewing their call for an investigation into whether Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. tried to hack telephones of those killed in New York and Washington.

USPS’s FUTURE: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings is among a group of Democrats introduced a bill yesterday that would let the U.S. Postal Service delay a $5.5 billion payment for retiree health benefits as the beleaguered mail agency struggles to avoid a default, blogs John Fritze of the Sun.

BALTIMORE MAYOR’S RACE: The women and men hoping to win the Democratic nomination to be Baltimore’s next mayor whirled through the city yesterday, seeking to sway last-minute support as the primary neared, writes Julie Scharper for the Sun.

Otis Rolley, former director of planning for the city of Baltimore and mayoral candidate, joins Marc Steiner in the studios of WEAA-FM to take questions and discuss his bid for office.

Ed Gunts at the Sun is blogging that Baltimore mayoral challenger Jody Landers urged city voters to go the polls today and not be misled by “political commentators and pundits” – including those at The Baltimore Sun – who he said were predicting the outcome of the primary election before ballots have been cast.

To recap, the Baltimore Business Journal offers links to a bunch of stories it has run on the Democratic primary, which, considering the city’s heavily Democratic leaning pretty much assures the winner.

CITY COUNCIL PRES: Four primary challengers for president of the Baltimore City Council gathered outside City Hall yesterday afternoon to protest the lack of media attention to their race, Liz Kay reports for the Sun.

CITY COUNCIL RACES: City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway’s challenger has blasted her in campaign mailings for receiving a tax break intended for owner-occupiers on a property in Baltimore County while claiming to live in Baltimore, blogs the Sun’s Jamie Smith Hopkins.

HEALTH CARE SETTLEMENT: Andrea Walker of the Sun reports that a Columbia-based health care firm has agreed to a $150 million settlement with the federal government and 43 states to resolve criminal and civil charges that it submitted claims for millions of dollars of work that it did not perform and operated offices that were not properly licensed.

TURNER ENDORSED: Community activist Arthur Turner, one of 14 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for the Prince George’s County Council seat vacated by Leslie Johnson, picked up several endorsements, blogs Miranda Spivack for the Post.