O’MALLEY ON 2011, 2012: Gov. Martin O’Malley hosted a media roundtable Thursday morning to discuss 2011 in review and his plans for next year. The governor said increases in the gas and flush taxes may be on the table to present a “balanced approach” to the 2013 budget, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.
Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that O’Malley still sees job creation as his top priority in 2012. In fact, he called greater and faster job creation for Marylanders, jump-started through capital projects, his new year’s resolution for 2012, reports the Star Democrat’s Daniel Divilio.
PURPLE LINE: The governor said he has budgeted $69 million in transportation funds over the next two years for engineering costs on the Purple Line light rail, which will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton, reports Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner.
SEPTIC SYSTEMS: Continuing a fight he started in 2011, O’Malley promised a vigorous push against large housing developments on septic systems, which he said creates more pollution that is undermining progress made on cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.
Steve Kelly in the Gazette focuses on O’Malley’s continued opposition to expanding the use of septic systems.
STEWART’S DONATIONS: Gov. O’Malley said that he plans to address $7,500 in campaign donations from Richard Stewart, his former ally who pleaded guilty to failing to pay $4 million in employment taxes -- but is not sure exactly how he will do it because the funds are already spent, according to an Associated Press story in The Daily Record.
The Examiner’s Brian Hughes calls O’Malley’s response to a question about the donations “noncommittal.”
ADAMS LEAVING: Earl Adams, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, is leaving state government next month to take a job at a major Baltimore law firm, reports John Wagner of the Washington Post.
MORE SCRUTINY NEEDED: The Daily Record’s editorial board opines that the state needs to know more about the effectivenessof $3.7 billion in funds given away each year in tax subsidies for businesses and industries.
FRANCHOT FUNDRAISERS: Comptroller Peter Franchot -- a rumored 2014 gubernatorial candidate -- will be holding two fundraisers in the week and a half between Jan. 1 and the beginning of the legislative session, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.
PROLIFIC PREFILER: Del. Michael Smigiel once again prefiled the most bills for the 2012 legislative session for “tactical and practical reasons,” reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.
COULD BE WORSE: The editorial board at the Frederick News-Post analyzes the proposed legislative redistricting map from Gov. Martin O’Malley and finds it to be much fairer for Frederick County than districts closer to Washington, D.C.
BRIDGE UPGRADES: Five toll bridges owned by the state will be seeing $11 million in security upgrades, including new lighting, sensors to detect stopped vehicles, and cameras, reports The Sun’s Candus Thompson.
NOT REALLY CUTS: RedMaryland’s Mark Newgent calls on Gov. O’Malley to be honest about the budget and cuts, considering that state budgets have increased since he took office.
STABILITY AT SPARROWS POINT: Gov. O’Malley wrote to GE Capital asking for the company to reconsider freezing some of R.G. Steel’s funds, which the governor said led to some layoffs at the Sparrows Point Mill, reports The Sun’s Alison Knezevich.
BRINKLEY CAMPAIGN: Frederick Mayor Randy McClement was named the Frederick County chairman for state Sen. David Brinkley’s congressional bid, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post.
YEAR IN REVIEW: In the Gazette, Sarah Breitenbach reviews a year that included multiple scandals, political trials, the gay marriage fight and the death of William Donald Schaefer.
MoCo PRIORITIES: For Montgomery County legislators, the upcoming General Assembly session will center on getting colleagues on board with the notion that investing in transportation and education for the Washington, D.C., suburb benefits the state as a whole, Sarah Breitenbach writes in the Gazette.
PREPPING FOR SESSION: Lawmakers have a number of ways to prepare for the upcoming session, from cat care to teeth cleaning, according to Steve Kelly in the Gazette.
DRUNKEN DRIVING: Arrests for drunken driving in Maryland have gone down since the beginning of the recession, reports Benjamin Ford in the Gazette.