January 6, 2012

State Roundup, January 6, 2012

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BROWN PROMISES SPENDING:  Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, taking Gov. Martin O’Malley’s usual spot at the Maryland Association of Counties conference, promised increased infrastructure spending – but said nothing about how the administration plans to pay for it, writes The Post’s John Wagner.

BUDGET DECISIONS: To cure a structural deficit, lawmakers are weighing which taxes to raise and by how much, Steve Kelly reports in the Gazette.

TEACHER PENSIONS: Gov. Martin O’Malley is weighing a proposal to shift some of the pension costs for the state’s public school teachers to the local governments that employ them, his spokeswoman said this week, according to the Gazette’s Steve Kelly.

CONTRACTORS MAY BE SPARED: President Obama’s proposal to make the military “leaner” caused many in Maryland to breathe a sigh of relief. The Sun’s Matthew Hay Brown explains that Maryland’s high numbers of contractors focusing on intelligence, cyberwarfare, research and development may protect more of the state’s jobs.

GAY MARRIAGE: The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach reports that advocates for same-sex marriage say this is the year for Maryland to pass legislation allowing gay couples to marry, even if it means bringing the issue before voters alongside the controversial measure on immigrant tuition.

MUSE CHALLENGES CARDIN: State Sen. C. Anthony Muse announced that he will challenge U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary, writes The Post’s Ben Pershing.

Muse, who made waves by opposing same-sex marriage in 2011 and by being the lone Democratic senator to vote against the new Congressional redistricting map, told The Washington Times’ David Hill that he is not going to beat Cardin; the people are going to elect him.

Considering that much of the Democratic Party seems poised to endorse Cardin, Red Maryland’s Brian Griffiths wonders what kind of message that sends to black Democrats.

SPLIT ON JACOBS: Del. Pat McDonough tells Patch.com’s Bryan Sears that he and other Republicans are unlikely to support GOP state Sen. Nancy Jacobs’ bid to unseat Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger.

BAKER FOR CARDIN: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed Sen. Cardin in a video posted to the Real Prince George’s blog.

MIKULSKI FOR EDWARDS: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski endorsed Rep. Donna Edwards for re-election, writes The Sun’s John Fritze. Edwards has been challenged by former Prince George’s County prosecutor Glenn Ivey.

ENVIRONMENTAL BATTLE: In the second installment of his series on issues coming before the General Assembly, WYPR’s Joel McCord looks at the coming environmental –and green power – debate.

ESTATE TAX ON FARMS: Senate President Mike Miller told The Sun’s Michael Dresser that one of his goals during the upcoming legislative session is to reduce estate tax on inheriting family farms.

UNIVERSITY RESEARCH CENTER: Miller also wants the University of Maryland’s College Park and Baltimore campuses to jointly establish a Baltimore research center, which will seek funds for projects, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser and Childs Walker.

QUADRUPLE FLUSH TAX? A coalition of environmental groups is asking for a four-fold increase of the flush tax, increasing it to $120 a year, according to an Associated Press story in The Daily Record.

SEPTICS DEBATE: State leaders and experts debated septic systems regulation – sure to be a hot topic at the legislative session – at the MACo winter meeting. Details are on MACo’s Conduit Street blog.

MORE RAIL SERVICES: Maryland could get its economy back on track and meet many of its transportation needs by expanding commuter rail MARC service in central Maryland with extra weekday and weekend trips, according to a transportation group, C. Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

SLOTS REVENUE UP: The Baltimore Business Journal’s Ryan Sharrow writes that the state’s two casinos generated about $12.5 million in December – a 2% increase from November.

GAMBLING: Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar says expanded gambling will be an important part of the agenda in the General Assembly session that starts next week.

AGRICULTURAL COUNTIES, UNITE! At the MACo meeting, the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers wrote that members the new Maryland Rural Counties Coalition – made up of four western Maryland jurisdictions – are working to add other agricultural counties like Dorchester, Calvert and St. Mary’s to their ranks.

DEMOCRATIC DOMINATION: A new book by a pair of professors takes a look at Maryland’s political past, present and future, and finds that while the state is polarized politically, Democratic Party domination is likely to continue, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com. He has a video interview with the book’s authors here.

STATE TELECOMMUTERS: Telecommuting remains rare among Maryland state employees, as it trails Virginia in number working from home, writes Andrew Ujifusa in the Gazette.

ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS: The state issued more than $2 million – funded through the federal stimulus bill — to medical providers and hospitals to adopt electronic records, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Ryan Sharrow.

HOUSE OF CARDS: Netflix announced it will be filming its original series, “House of Cards,” in Maryland, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Ryan Sharrow. The series stars Kevin Spacey, and is expected to have a $75 million impact on Maryland, creating about 2,000 jobs.

2012 RESOLUTIONS: The Daily Record’s editorial board has some resolutions for government officials in 2012, including telling Gov. O’Malley to concentrate on Maryland – not the rest of the country – and asking the General Assembly to make hard choices on tax increases.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on new MACo head from Prince George’s; Obama recess appointments; and university ratings.

MOVE BALTIMORE ELECTIONS: The Baltimore Election Change Coalition, which is made up of several powerful civic and voter groups, kicks off its campaign on Monday to sync the city’s election calendar with the state’s – meaning the next city election would be in 2014, cutting current officials’ terms a year short, writes Nick Sohr in his Eye on Annapolis blog.

ARUNDEL COUNCIL DRAMA: The attorney representing embattled Anne Arundel Councilman Daryl Jones has spoken to at least two Republicans about the possibility of allowing Jones to keep his seat while he is in jail for not filing tax returns, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller.

NIX DIES: Civil rights activist and Montgomery County community icon Roscoe Nix died Wednesday night at age 90, Kristi Tousignant in the Gazette. Nix was a political and civil rights fixture in Montgomery County for decades.

MEDIA MISCONDUCT: Gazette columnist Blair Lee complains about gross media bias coverage of fracking and Occupy Wall Street.

  • Frank Van

    Most depressing summary today.
    No New Taxes.  We are overburdened with not only taxes, but also regulation.
    There is no energy for entrepreneurial endeavors, because of the atmosphere of soaking the rich, looming taxes and regulation in many different fields, from energy to environment, to trash, to transportation, to higher retirement provisions to increased medical costs.   THERE IS A LIMIT.
    What about the state becoming much more efficient.  A 10% to 15% reduction in operating costs should be very, very easy, in particular with more automation and much better management and common sense solutions.