December 12, 2011

State Roundup, December 12, 2011

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REVENUE ESTIMATES: Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that the state Board of Revenue Estimates expects the state to bring in $14.05 billion in revenue in fiscal 2012 and $14.42 billion in fiscal 2013, more than $121 million less than earlier projections.

The lower estimates were brought on by potential cuts in federal spending, a lack of consumer confidence and debt issues in Europe, Megan Poinski reports for MarylandReporter.com.

JOB GROWTH: At the 2012 Symposium on Job Creation on Friday, some business people had a different view than Gov. Martin O’Malley of what would spur job growth in the state, writes Gary Haber for the BBJ.

O’Malley challenged one business executive, Daniel White of Whiting-Turner construction, to a radio debate, writes Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com. No word on whether it will happen.

Some business people say regulations need to be repealed including the requirement for oyster harvesters to obtain power dredge permits and the requirement that nursing home developers obtain pre-approval for construction from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Ashley Latta of Capital News Service writes in the Cumberland Times-News.

MISSING GUNS: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that the state Department of Natural Resources Police lost track of hundreds of state-owned firearms it issued to volunteer trainers in hunter education programs, creating a “public safety risk” and a potential misuse of federal money, according to a recent audit by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

SCHOOL MERGER NIXED: The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents unanimously voted against the proposed merger of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Jack Lambert writes for the BBJ.

Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that the board instead opted for an approach that maintains each university’s independence while calling for greater collaboration.

Officials from both institutions spent several months studying the potential benefits and drawbacks in merging the institutions, reports Rebecca Lurye for the Diamondback.

ABORTION CLINIC REGS: Steve Kelly of the Gazette reports that the state health department is proposing regulations that would require anyone who operates a surgical abortion facility in Maryland to obtain a state license and would open such facilities to state inspection. The department will be seeking public comment.

WINE SHIPPING: Robert Lang and Anne Kramer of WBAL-AM report that since the law was instituted to allow direct shipment of wine, 28 local wineries and 540 from out of state have signed up to take advantage.

PLANMARYLAND: As PlanMaryland moves forward, Don Kornreich of the Frederick News Post writes that the state’s continuing failure to curb eminent domain puts private property rights in jeopardy.

MOB THEFTS: In an attempt to curb so called “mob thefts,” Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher plans to introduce a bill in the General Assembly that would increase the penalties for participants by making each individual participant in a theft responsible for the total amount stolen.

INDIA TRIP: O’Malley and some of his delegation to India will discuss the trade mission this morning from Annapolis, according to WMAR-TV.

CALVERT GAP: A gap discovered and reported on Thursday in a concrete barrier at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant could affect plant safety operations moving forward, according to a story on SoMDNews.com.

PATUXENT AIR BASE: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and other state and federal officials learned Friday that Patuxent River Naval Air Station is expecting a revitalization of its overall infrastructure, even with an initiative to reduce the Navy’s footprint by 25%, Jessica Goolsby reports for SoMDNews.com.

MRS. JOHNSON SENTENCED: The wife of former Prince George’s County Exec Jack Johnson was sentenced Friday to one year and a day in prison for her role in obstructing an investigation into her husband’s corruption, Robert Lang and Steve Fermier report for WBAL-AM.

You can listen to a portion of the wiretap here.

Leslie Johnson had made a tearful last-ditch plea for her freedom, telling a court that she had no part in the years-long bribery scheme orchestrated by her husband and that her only mistake was trying to protect him on a single day, Miranda Spivack and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post report.

CORRUPTION IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: Despite the fact that both Johnsons will be serving time behind bars, the investigations into corruption in Prince George’s County will continue, Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports.

And, in the Laurel Leader, Emaun Kashfipour of Capital News Service interviews researchers who have been studying how to predict corruption of public officials, including those in Prince George’s.

SCHURICK’S ACTIONS: In an op-ed for the Sun, Richard Vatz, a professor of rhetoric at Towson University, says that Ehrlich operative Paul Schurick’s actions in authorizing the “relax” robocalls were bad but they aren’t criminal.

POLITICS ON TRIAL: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland writes about recent trials involving politicians and political operatives and how certain members of the Democratic Party react to them.

THE RIVALS: Annie Linskey of the Sun writes a similar story to one that ran earlier this month in the Post: There is a cordial rivalry going on between Martin O’Malley, Maryland governor and head of the Democratic Governors Association and Robert McDonnell, Virginia’s governor and now head of the Republican Governors Association. Both could be headed for national office.

GOVERNMENT COOKIES: Annie Linskey of the Sun writes that on Saturday afternoon, as part of a Maryland holiday tradition, the O’Malleys threw open the doors to Government House, allowing visitors to wander through the public section of the executive mansion and admire decorations free of charge and taste a yummy array of chef-prepared cookies.

LOWE’S PROTEST: Former state Del. Saqib Ali will be picketing a Lowe’s store in Montgomery County next Sunday for “pulling its commercials during the TV show ‘All American Muslims’ … because some people complained that the show falsely depicts American Muslims as “normal people.” ‘ Maryland Juice has the story.

APPALACHIAN TRIALS CORRECTION: The Salisbury Daily Times reports that A dispute is escalating over whether the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon will be allowed to continue using the Appalachian Trail and double the number of runners from 1,000 to 2,000. This story by Andy Schotz apparently ran Dec. 3 in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE: Environmentalists are suing the Queen Anne’s County Board of Commissioners, saying elected officials ignored the will of residents in upzoning hundreds of acres of rural land, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.