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Published on September 19th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, September 19, 2011

STATE LOSES MORE JOBS: Maryland lost 2,500 jobs in August, reversing some of the gains made earlier in the summer and pushing the state unemployment rate to 7.3%, Jamie Smith Hopkins reports for the Sun.

Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to cast the state’s rising unemployment rate as “still one of the lowest in the nation,” and said that even against a stagnated recovery, Maryland has still made progress this year in creating jobs, blogs the Post’s Aaron Davis.

ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE: Writing an op-ed for the Frederick News Post, Don Kornreich says that President Obama challenged the Congress to pass his jobs bill “now.” Congress should accept the challenge, hold public hearings and enact economic growth and job creation legislation that includes the positive incentives proposed by the president.

ROOFING JOBS: Sen. Ben Cardin is going to a roof manufacturer in Frederick this morning to unveil a bill he says will help create 40,000 construction jobs, reports Robert Lang of WBAL-AM. Click here to listen to Cardin speak about the bill.

MIKULSKI PUSHES ON GUEST WORKERS: Unable to get a response from the Department of Labor about a new, higher wage requirement for seasonal foreign workers employed in Eastern Shore seafood plants, Sen. Barbara Mikulski has taken her case to the White House, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

CRACKDOWN ON EMPLOYERS: The Labor Department is signing agreements to share information with Maryland and eight other states and the Internal Revenue Service as it gets more aggressive in its program to crack down on businesses that cheat workers out of their hard-earned wages, according to a story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

HARRIS FAVORED IN ONE PLAN: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that one credible congressional redistricting proposal favors only Republicans in only one district – U.S. Rep. Andy Harris’ – and puts veteran Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in jeopardy.

MDHCD TO MOVE: The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will make its new home near the New Carrollton Metro station, a move that Gov. O’Malley is expected to announce today, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

HURRICANE BUCKS: President Barack Obama declared a major federal disaster Friday on the Eastern Shore and in Cecil, Harford, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties to supplement recovery efforts for costs and damage incurred between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5, writes Frank Roylance for the Sun.

While FEMA will make money available to about a dozen counties in Maryland devastated by Hurricane Irene, Anne Arundel County is not one of them, reports Janice Parks for WBFF-TV.

Arundel County Executive John Leopold said that during the storm, trees snatched from their roots became projectiles, toppling power lines and smashing into homes, reports Sheldon Dutes of WBAL-TV.

FLOODED WITH MONEY WOES: As lawmakers around the region are again forced to consider slashing budgets or raising taxes, major and unexpected repairs from this month’s flooding have added millions of dollars to the problem in just a few days, reports Liz Farmer for the Washington Examiner.

SUSQUEHANNA RR BRIDGE: Maryland has been allocated $22 million in stimulus funds to begin work on replacing the Susquehanna River Railroad Bridge, Steve Kilar reports for the Sun.

VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER LAW: As a stricter vehicular manslaughter law goes into effect, a memorial bike ride honors the Green Party candidate whose death spurred the change, Natalie McGill writes for the Gazette.

HAVE A HIGH-BALL: The editorial board for the Sun is saying that the state high-balled its initial toll increase plan for the state’s bridges and toll roads so it could cut back when people complained.

Liz Farmer of the Washington Examiner writes that the MTA’s other proposed toll increases, including the $2 increase to Baltimore’s Fort McHenry Tunnel toll, are still intact.

COLOR THE DOME: Jonathan Pitts of the Sun writes that some people are imagining the multi-tiered State House dome in its original colors of lemon gold, muted blue and honey bordering on apricot.

Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com takes a second look at the issue of painting the dome a variety of colors and comes to the conclusion that it will … .

GRANDY-OCITY! Tea Party and GOP voices are thumbing their noses at Montgomery County Democrats’ letter complaining about their engaging anti-Muslim speaker and former U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy. Maryland Juice highlights a few responses.

EX-DELEGATE RELEASED: Former Del. Robert McKee was released from federal prison Friday after serving 32 months for possessing child pornography, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

MEET REP. HARRIS: State Del. Kathy Szeliga announced in the Dagger that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris will be holding two town meetings today. The first will be held in the afternoon in Harford County, the second will be held in the early evening in Baltimore County.

GOOGLE THAT JURY: The Sun’s Tricia Bishop reports about the trend of lawyers turning to Facebook, Twitter and similar websites to help them make decisions during jury selection, which can make or break a case.

WHISTLEBLOWER REWARD: A whistleblowing patient turns finally sees payoff with major fines against Maxim Healthcare of Columbia, charged with Medicaid fraud, and a $15 million bonus, writes Jay Hancock of the Sun. But what he really wanted is to be making the system better.

JELLY BEAN JUNKETS: In Washington, writes columnist Eric Hartley for the Annapolis Capital, “lobbyist” might mean junkets and white-tablecloth dinners as you discuss billions in congressional earmarks. But in Anne Arundel County, where only 44 people are registered as lobbyists, it’s more like a cheese steak sub or a little glass goose full of jelly beans.

FEW VOTERS ATTEND PG DEBATES: The few voters who showed up at a recent Prince George’s County Young Democrats debate in the race to succeed Leslie Johnson barely outnumbered the candidates themselves: the 14 Democrats and one Republican who are vying for Johnson’s seat on the County Council, Miranda Spivack reports for the Post.

BUSINESS FRIENDLIER: County Exec Rushern Baker is working to make economic development efforts in Prince George’s more business-friendly, writes Lindsey Robbins of the Gazette, and the response has been enthusiastic.

PARKING ZONES IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: Prince George’s County neighborhoods could set up their own parking zones, protecting valuable street parking space exclusively for their residents, reports Ben Giles for the Washington Examiner.

3rd CANDIDATE FOR LAUREL MAYOR: The mayor’s race in Laurel became more competitive after the city’s Board of Election supervisors voted in a special session last week to allow a third candidate to enter the race, Gwendolyn Glenn reports for the Laurel Leader.

CALVERT DISTRICTING: Most speakers at a public hearing on voter redistricting in Calvert County said they see no problems with the current election process and do not wish to see great changes made to it. The hearing was to get public input on increasing the number of election districts and changing the way the county Board of County Commissioners and its president are elected, Meghan Russell reports for SoMdNews.com.

STAY AHEAD OF STATE: The Carroll County Department of Planning and members of our board of commissioners should begin work on reviewing the state’s revised comprehensive plan for growth and should develop a statement letting residents, as well as the state, know what they think is good about the plan and highlighting any areas of concern, opines the editorial board for the Carroll County Times.

REASONABLE ACTIONS: The Frederick County Commissioners are reviewing pensions, paid holidays and extended sick leave to save up to $370,000 during the next 10 years. The Frederick Board of Aldermen voted to make Medicare-eligible retirees pay more to save $219,000 a year. Both actions are good ideas, writes the editorial board for the Frederick News Post.

THE LAWYERS GET PAID: The Sun’s Scott Calvert reports that the Baltimore Housing Authority often cites a lack of funds to explain its refusal to pay nearly $12 million in court-ordered judgments to former public housing residents who suffered permanent lead-paint poisoning as children. But it has paid private lawyers about $4 million since 2005 to defend against those lead-paint claims.

GOP LONG ODDS IN GENERAL ELECTION: Although there is still a Nov. 8 general election in Baltimore city, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 9 to 1, hold the mayor’s office and all 15 seats on the City Council and voters haven’t elected a Republican mayor since the 1960s. So the odds of any of the challengers delivering a knockout punch — or even raising a black eye — are long, writes Annie Linskey for the Sun.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE ON BUSINESS: Baltimore Business Journal reporter Gary Haber speaks with Jack Lambert about some of the business priorities Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake discussed following her victory in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary election. Listen to the podcast here.

REGION CAN HELP: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that following the dismal voter turnout and the misleading labeling of a study deeming that Baltimore scored high in civic engagement, Mayor Rawlings-Blake should call on the entire region for help.

The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted the survey of 264 cities in terms of voting, volunteering, participation in community groups and in helping neighbors, reports Robert Lang of WBAL-AM. Hear his report here.

NOT VOTING IS VOTING: Writing about the lousy voter turnout in last week’s city primary, the Sun’s Jean Marbella writes that “not voting is voting. It’s saying, ‘Whatever the rest of you decide, fine with me.’ ” But, she writes, “we’re not talking here about where to go for dinner, or what movie to see. We’re talking about a city of … constant carping: the crime, the schools, the taxes, the vacant houses, the this, the that.”

WICOMICO CHARTER REVIEW: Wicomico County will soon again embark on reviewing and revising its charter, writes Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times. Members of the County Council are set to select the Charter Review Committee, which must review recommendations given to it by politicos as well as any items they think need changing.

CHAMBER ON SPECIAL SESSION: The Salisbury Chamber of Commerce met to discuss upcoming special legislative in Annapolis, how redistricting could affect business and other items lawmakers might discuss, Jennifer Shutt writes for the Salisbury Daily Times.

CRISFIELD ADOPTS ETHICS RULES: An ordinance that brings Crisfield’s ethics laws in line with new state requirements was adopted last week amid protests from City Council members – and only after they learned they might lose state grant funding if they failed to act, Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times reports.

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