September 20, 2011

State Roundup, September 20, 2011

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CORDISH YEARNS FOR YUAN: The Post’s Keith Richburg and John Wagner report that Cordish Cos. has traveled to China to lure wealthy investors for his Anne Arundel casino project with the promise of green cards and life in the United States, another sign that U.S. businesses are facing tough economic times.

O’MALLEY OPPOSES CONSTELLATION SALE: The O’Malley administration is asking state regulators to reject Constellation Energy Group’s plan to sell itself to Chicago-based Exelon Corp. unless the companies provide greater assurance that the new owner can deliver reliable service to Maryland customers, reports Hanah Cho of the Sun.

GAS TAX NEEDS: State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola says that if Maryland is to raise significant new revenue to meet its backlog of transportation needs — most likely through a higher gas tax — 2012 is the year it must be done, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said that if the state built the major project on each county’s short list, the total cost would be $12 billion. And when every project backed by local jurisdictions were added up, DOT officials stopped counting at $60 billion.

SHALE OIL: The Think Progress blog of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress is reporting on the effort by Takoma Park Del. Heather Mizeur, of the Democratic National Committee, to have the party pass a resolution asking President Obama to reject Trans Canada’s plan for a tar sands pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas refineries. A protest at the White House of the same pipeline lead to the arrest earlier this month of Democratic Sen. Paul Pinsky, along with 165 other demonstrators. Here’s more on the Mizeur motion.

PLANMARYLAND: At the time that Smart Growth legislation was passed, writes Blaine Young, president of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners, in an op-ed piece for the Sun, many said it was just the first step toward ultimate state control, or at least “veto power,” over local land-use decisions. PlanMaryland makes him think they were right.

MD’s GPI: David Brancaccio of the Marketplace radio program reports on Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator, which attempts to track what really matters – the value of leisure time. You can also read the story here.

POLICING WAGE LAWS: Following an earlier story, the Gazette’s Margie Hyslop writes about Maryland’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to help the federal government go after businesses suspected of violating wage and other worker protection laws. It is among 11 states to do so.

DEMS PRAISE OBAMA PLAN: Maryland Democrats have praised President Barack Obama’s plan to trim the nation’s debt by more than $3 trillion but Republican leaders just as aggressively opposed the proposal, which calls for as much as $1.5 trillion in new taxes, John Fritze blogs for the Sun.

JOB CREATION: The Frederick News Post’s Ike Wilson attended an event yesterday where U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin unveiled bipartisan legislation intended to create up to 40,000 jobs in the roofing industry and increase energy efficiency.

WESTERN MARYLAND COALITION: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that the leaders of Western Maryland county governments are considering hiring a lobbyist and creating an organization to ensure their voices are heard in Annapolis.

PRIVATIZING FREDERICK: Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post that Frederick County residents and employees pushed for transparency yesterday at the first meeting of a citizens committee to consider privatizing and streamlining government services.

FIVE HOURS MORE IN FREDERICK: Hundreds of Frederick County employees could see their workweek lengthened by five hours, as commissioners look to increase productivity while possibly shrinking the workforce, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post.

NEW TU PRES A FAMILIAR FACE: Maravene Loeschke built a deep reservoir of good will in more than 30 years as a student, drama professor and administrator at Towson University. Now, she returns as Towson’s new president, writes Childs Walker for the Sun.

BA CO DOWNSIZING: Bryan Sears of Patch.com is reporting that Baltimore County officials are offering 1,100 current employees voluntary early retirement in hopes of eliminating 200 positions as part of an effort to deal with ongoing budgetary woes related to a slumping economy.

PRIMARY DAY IN PG: Maggie Fazeli Fard of the Post reports that 14 Democrats and one Republican are on the ballot in Prince George’s County’s primary elections today, vying for the chance to compete for Leslie Johnson’s County Council seat in the general election next month.

AN UNDECIDED RACE: Fern Shen and Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew stir up interest in the still-to-be-decided Baltimore City Council race in District 13 with an interesting story about Shannon Sneed, the underfunded and unknown challenger who wasn’t supposed to make a dent in race.