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Published on December 20th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, December 20, 2011

PLANMARYLAND NOW LAW: Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday signed into law PlanMaryland, which is intended to curb sprawl and could affect every facet of growth, from where schools are placed to which roads are built to whether rural landowners are permitted to develop their property, Aaron Davis reports for the Post.

O’Malley said that if jurisdictions choose to follow local planning policies that aren’t in line with PlanMaryland’s goals, the state would be reluctant to fund growth-related capital projects there, Steve Kelly reports for the Gazette.

He said PlanMaryland is a set of recommendations to limit sprawl and protect the environment by encouraging development in existing population centers rather than rural areas, David Hill reports for the Washington Times.

O’Malley was flanked by former Govs. Harry Hughes and Parris Glendening, his predecessors in smart growth and environmentally sensitive policies, writes Megan Poinski in MarylandReporter.com.

Jeff Barnd of WBFF-TV reports on the opposition to the plan.

The plan has been decried by conservative county officials and Republican legislators as a usurpation of local power over land use, the Sun’s Michael Dresser writes.

CONGRESSIONAL REMAPPING: State Board of Elections personnel may not get much of a Christmas break this year because of a court hearing today, writes Earl Kelly of the Annapolis Capital. That’s when a federal three-judge panel in Greenbelt will hear arguments on Gov. O’Malley’s congressional redistricting plan.

BORROWING INCREASED: A state debt committee voted to increase Maryland’s borrowing by $150 million next year to almost $1.1 billion, and the decision left Comptroller Peter Franchot steaming, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

The committee’s action in effect borrows lending capacity from the future, saying the extra spending during the coming budget year should be repaid in 2017, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

CHILD SUPPORT: Maryland has a new child support enforcement director, three months after the office was skewered in a legislative audit that said it failed to collect more than $1.7 billion in support over three years, writes Andrea Siegel for the Sun.

WHO TAKES FLIGHT? Maryland Juice allows for speculation on what will happen to those waiting in the wings if Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch doesn’t leave office any time soon.

STATE LEGISLATIVE REMAP: Republicans and a voters-rights advocacy group are rallying against an initial proposal to redraw the state’s legislative districts, Sarah Breitenbach writes for the Gazette. She reports that a spokesman for the voters group said the plan does not do enough to adequately represent blacks and other minorities.

The Salisbury Daily Times editorial board writes that the whole redistricting process is difficult, but necessary.

WA CO DELEGATION CUT: The proposed state legislative redistricting plan released Friday would cut Washington County’s delegation from eight to six members and combine two local subdistricts into one, writes Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

CARROLL GAINS: Carroll County will retain its three state senators and gain four members in the House of Delegates if the maps proposed by the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee are accepted by the Maryland General Assembly, Christian Alexandersen reports for the Carroll County Times.

TILTING TOWARD DEMS: The newly proposed changes to state legislative districts are drawing ire from some Frederick County lawmakers, who argue that the map tilts one local district in favor of Democrats by packing Republicans into another area, Bethany Rodgers writes for the Frederick News-Post.

MTA FARE HIKE: The Maryland Transit Administration has told the General Assembly that it would have to raise Baltimore-area transit fares by 65 cents next fiscal year — a 40% jump — in order to meet state revenue goals without cutting service, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

MINNICK CHARGES: Gambling charges against four, including the brother of state Del. Sonny Minnick, were set aside on an inactive docket yesterday, meaning the court made no finding of guilt or innocence in the case alleging that a Dundalk tavern made cash payouts on video game machines, the Sun’s Arthur Hirsch reports.

BA CO ETHICS: Baltimore County Council members unanimously passed wide-ranging ethics reform legislation yesterday, but not before scaling back parts of the measure, including when officials can accept gifts and what defines a conflict of interest for council members, Alison Knezevich of the Sun writes.

Even though the amendments removed provisions in County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s proposal that were aimed specifically at council members, the council said the bill is still more stringent than what state law requires, Bryan Sears reports for Patch.com.

FREDERICK CHARTER: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post is urging residents to get involved as the Frederick County Charter Board works to define a new form of county government.

RON SMITH DIES: Ron Smith, WBAL’s show host who became known to generations of listeners as “The Voice of Reason” died last night from cancer, WBAL-AM reports.

He was 70, writes the Sun’s David Zurawik. Here’s a video report in the Sun.

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