December 13, 2011

State Roundup, December 13, 2011

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WAR ON RURAL MD: Heather Keels of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that the phrase “war on rural Maryland” was repeated again and again last night at a legislative public forum as the Washington County delegation commiserated with constituents about state policies seen as unfair to rural areas.

CLASH OVER PLANMARYLAND: State Planning Secretary Richard Hall yesterday defended the administration’s effort to draft an executive order implementing PlanMaryland against Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin’s demand that any such plan be submitted to the General Assembly for approval, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting, protesters gathered on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis to rally against a land use initiative being crafted by the Maryland Department of Planning, Daniel Divilio writes for the Easton Star Democrat.

The torrid rhetoric about PlanMaryland cooled into a discussion about who really understands the controversial state land-use plan, and what it’s doing before the public at this point anyway, Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

INDIA TRIP: Nearly $60 million in business deals were signed during Maryland’s recent trade mission to India, and deals worth millions more are in the works, according to an Associated Press story in the Daily Record.

NEXT STOP BRAZIL: Brazil is the next stop on Maryland’s international trade agenda, Gov. Martin O’Malley said, briefing reporters on his six day India trip yesterday, with Africa possibly to follow, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter.com.

HEALTH EXCHANGE: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com writes that the Health Benefit Exchange Board has recommended a broad based funding approach to pay for a federally mandated state health insurance program, now estimated to cost up to $30 million in 2014 and $60 million by 2016.

COST TO SAVE THE BAY: Maryland’s counties and cities say they will need to spend billions of dollars to take the extra steps needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay to health by 2020, the deadline the state gave them for action, Tim Wheeler of the Sun reports.

OYSTER HARVEST: A call to halt oyster harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay while the population makes a comeback has been met with reluctance by both watermen and the Department of Natural Resources, Greg Masters of the Capital News Service writes in the Annapolis Capital.

COOKE & SCHURICK: Sun Columnist Dan Rodricks looks into the case of Ira Cooke (remember him?), the former Annapolis lobbyist whose embezzlement conviction in California caused him to be disbarred in Maryland. The conviction was overturned, but he remains disbarred. Rodricks also takes another stab at the Paul Schurick robocall conviction and why voter suppression laws matter.

DINNER WITH GAGA? Gov. and Mrs. O’Malley have invited, via Twitter, Lady Gaga to dinner at Government House, writes Annie Linskey of the Sun. If she accepts, it is possible the three could sing a rendition of “Bad Romance,” but they will most likely address eliminating bullying in Maryland.

SCHAEFER’S TRAINS: The late Gov. William Donald Schaefer’s beloved train garden, which he collected from an early age and was misplaced during many moves, has found a home at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Pamela Wood writes for the Annapolis Capital.

BARTLETT WILL RUN: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has reiterated his intention to run for reelection to his 6th District seat, despite much speculation – as well as jockeying for position by fellow Republicans who hope to replace him, blogs Aaron Davis of the Post.

Maryland Juice offers up an odd note in Bartlett’s agenda, one that links him to Newt Gingrich: electromagnetic impulses.

MOONEY MONEY: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland reports that “MDGOP ‘Chair’ Alex Mooney is only $20 away from his online fundraising goal. Great he’s finally raising money for the party right?” No, Newgent writes, he’s using his chairman moniker to raise bucks to run for Bartlett’s seat.

FOR-PROFIT PROBE: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings is launching an investigation into the salaries and bonuses paid to the top executives of for-profit colleges, noting that a majority of their revenue comes from students who are receiving federal tuition aid, the Sun’s John Fritze reports.

LOBBYISTS HIRED: Frederick, Allegany, Carroll and Washington counties each put up $5,000 to pay lobbyists Bruce Bereano and William Miles to represent them during the upcoming legislative session, Pete McCarthy of the Frederick News-Post writes.

NOW AGREE: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post writes that a lobbyist for Western Maryland is a good move, if the four counties who have agreed on the hire can also agree on what it is exactly they want their lobbyists to do.

FREDERICK SPILL PROBED: State environmental officials are investigating why 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage spilled out of Frederick city’s wastewater treatment plant and into Carroll Creek for nine hours between Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning, Margarita Raycheva of the Gazette writes.

SOMERSET ELECTION DISTRICTS: Somerset County residents will be able to voice their opinions on proposed new election district boundaries that remove 2,824 prisoners at Eastern Correctional Institution from the local population count in accordance with a new state law, Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times writes.

BAKER SEEKS BUCKS: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker he plans to ask lawmakers in Annapolis for a great deal of funding in the upcoming legislative session and he remains open to the possibility of a slot-machine gambling site in his county to help cover the cost, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

JONES SHOULD RESIGN: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital says that there should be no argument about it: Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones should resign when he goes to prison, and the County Charter should be changed to address such issues.