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Published on November 29th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, November 29, 2011

Due to the paywall at the Sun, and its limit of 15 free stories per month, our roundup will not include Sun stories that contain substantially the same material available in articles from other sites.

$38 MILLION UNSPENT: The state secretary of Health will try to explain to a Senate panel tomorrow how the Developmental Disabilities Administration left $38 million unspent over the last two years while 6,500 patients sat on a waiting list for funding, Glynis Kazanjian reports for MarylandReporter.com.

The Gazette’s Steve Kelly reports that DDA officials first became aware of the unspent money in July, as they closed out the department’s fiscal 2011 books, said Frank Kirkland, who took the reins of the department Aug. 1.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Until recently, Maryland’s legal and political battle over in-state tuition has been seen as pitting young illegal immigrants against native residents, Pamela Constable reports for the Post. But a petition drive by opponents of the measure has attracted a small but growing number of legal immigrants, who say that they, too, are being cheated.

BROKEN SYSTEM: The Sun editorial board opines that donations to the Democratic Governors Association, which Gov. Martin O’Malley heads, by firms doing business with the state are just a small part of a broken campaign finance system.

SEPTIC DETAILS: A state committee is making only broad recommendations that will leave the details of regulating residential septic systems in the hands of lawmakers and the governor, a situation that environmental advocates say could prove divisive, the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach writes.

The editorial board for the Carroll County Times writes that rural counties should be pleased that the committee has recommended an approach less aggressive than one proposed earlier this year by Gov. O’Malley, but it remains to be seen whether the governor will go along with the committee or continue to push for stricter limits.

PIPKEN BLASTS O’MALLEY: Despite protests to the contrary from Gov. O’Malley, writes state Sen. E.J. Pipken on the op-ed page of the Salisbury Daily Times, it is clear that his administration’s programs, policies and proposed legislation constitute an assault on rural economies and property rights. Whether the war on rural Maryland is intentional is beside the point.

INDIA DEALS: A new health care call center in Prince George’s County and a Rockville company’s $3.7 million management contract for a highway project are among the early deals announced in the state’s trade mission to India, Robert Rand reports for the Gazette.

ADVICE ON INDIA: The Gazette’s Lazlo Boyd offers Gov. O’Malley some insights into India, where the governor and a large group of Marylanders are currently on a trade mission.

SHAPING THE RACE: Anne Arundel County could play a pivotal role in the upcoming race in the newly aligned 4th Congressional District, even though no candidate from there has officially entered it, Andrew Damstedt of the Capital News Service writes in the Annapolis Capital.

HARRIS’ SEAT: Sarah Brietenbach of the Gazette writes about Wendy Rosen, the first Democrat to announce she will run for Andy Harris’ 1st Congressional District seat.

HARRIS TO ENDORSE: John Fritze of the Sun is blogging about a Politico report that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, the conservative Baltimore County Republican elected to Congress last year, will endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

BROWN BLASTS ROMNEY: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown pitched in to do his part in a national Democratic campaign to portray former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, as an unprincipled flip-flopper, the Sun’s Michael Dresser blogs.

MAJOR HIT? The Frederick News-Post editorial board ponders the possibility of Maryland facing a major financial hit now that the federal supercommittee failed to agree on cuts.

EHRLICH AIDE IN COURT: A Baltimore jury will hear opening statements today in a criminal case filed against a former gubernatorial aide charged with violating election laws by allegedly orchestrating a campaign to suppress black votes, Peter Hermann reports for the Sun.

The Post’s Aaron Davis reports that if Paul Schurick is found guilty, the verdict could give Democrats in Maryland and beyond a rallying cry ahead of the 2012 presidential race, analysts say.

RON SMITH: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com pays tribute to long-time WBAL-Radio host Ron Smith, who announced yesterday that he will be off the air for good, too weak from pancreatic cancer to continue.

You can listen to Ron Smith announcing his retirement here.

AA COUNCILMAN SENTENCED: Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones was sentenced yesterday to five months in federal prison for failing to file tax returns for five years, according to a story in the Annapolis Capital.

Jones, a Democrat from Severn who is a practicing criminal defense attorney, was also sentenced to one year of supervised probation and six months of home detention during an emotionally charged hearing, Nicole Fuller reports for the Sun.

MO CO FIGHTS PETITION: Montgomery County officials are challenging a petition that could lead to the repeal of a recently enacted law that scales back the collective bargaining rights of the county police union, writes Victor Zapana of the Post.

JOHNSON SENTENCING: Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson deserves no leniency when he comes up for sentencing next week on federal corruption and evidence-tampering charges, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that prosecutors are telling the judge in that case. Here’s the 76-page document the prosecutors used.

DISNEY DECISION: The Walt Disney Co. and experts say the entertainment giant’s decision to not build a resort hotel in Prince George’s County is more a reflection of the company and hotel industry, rather than the $4 billion mixed-use complex, Lindsey Robbins reports for the Gazette.

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