November 15, 2011

State Roundup, November 15, 2011

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EDUCATION GAP: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland writes, in the second part of his series on state education spending, that despite higher levels of spending, achievement gaps remain between white and minority students, as do those between low income-students and their higher income peers.

TRUCK VENDORS: New state rules have pushed local health officials to crack down on food sold from parked food trailers that could be forced to do costly renovations, writes Erin Cox for the Annapolis Capital.

PlanMaryland: Is PlanMaryland just a framework for smart growth or a dramatic policy shift? Megan Poinski examines the controversy at MarylandReporter.com.

YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL: The Prince George’s County delegation will propose a bill this spring that would authorize year-round school, but school officials say the extra costs likely would prevent immediate implementation, Abby Brownback reports for the Gazette.

ABUSE REPORTING: The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach follows up on a story from last week about state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who is looking into creating legislation to strengthen penalties for those who fail to report child sex abuse, this is light of the Penn State scandal.

CITY SLOTS: The head of Caesars Entertainment Corp. promised yesterday to bring a “world-class” Harrah’s casino to Baltimore that would be marketed heavily to 43 million gamblers in the company’s rewards program if his group is given the go-ahead by Maryland’s slots commission, the Sun’s Annie Linskey reports.

The company is proposing to build a $310 million casino with a steakhouse, buffet, sports bar and 4,000-car garage near M&T Bank Stadium in South Baltimore, Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

John Wagner of the Post blogs that the two-story casino with 3,750 slot machines — the state’s second largest — would open its doors in Baltimore by the end of 2013.

GAY ADOPTIONS: The editorial board of the Sun opines that Maryland law is silent on the right of same-sex couples to adopt, just as it fails to specifically address adoptions by unmarried couples or by single, unmarried adults. It’s time for that to change.

SUPERCOMMITTEE: John Fritze and Matthew Hay Brown of the Sun write about groups of people who headed to Washington to lobby the U.S. congressional supercommittee, which is charged with finding a way to trim federal budget deficits by $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

GREEN CONVENTION: Although it won’t be on the scale of the huge political affairs expected in Tampa or Charlotte, Baltimore will nevertheless have a slice of the presidential convention scene next year when it city is the only candidate remaining to host the Green Party’s 2012 convention, the Sun’s John Fritze reports.

O’MALLEY ON RECENT ELECTIONS: Gov. Martin O’Malley is framing last week’s election as a reaction to Republican economic policies as well as what he called the GOP’s “overreach” in targeting public employee unions, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

SLOTS VOTE IN PG: Slots opponents hope Prince George’s County officials send a clear message to Annapolis today, when the County Council is to vote on zoning legislation that would essentially ban slots in the county, Hanah Cho reports for the Sun.

While there is no plan on the table at the moment to introduce slot machine gambling into the county, blogs Miranda Spivack for the Post, Penn National Gaming, owners of Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, have made clear they want slots at the track.

JOHNSON SENTENCE: Federal prosecutors who want former Prince George’s County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson to serve at least one year in prison on corruption charges are citing audio recordings of tapped phone calls that show Johnson’s “abundant knowledge” of a long-running extortion scheme, the Gazette’s Daniel Leaderman reports.

Janice Park of WBFF plays the tape recordings from the day when the FBI served a search warrant on the Johnson home.

CITY BOTTLE TAX HIKE: The Sun’s Julie Scharper writes that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake visited a dilapidated East Baltimore elementary school yesterday to call on the City Council to adopt her plan to raise the city’s bottle tax to help pay for a major school renovation program.