January 10, 2012

State Roundup, January 10, 2012

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SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Gov. Martin O’Malley today will propose spending more than $350 million next year on public school construction, the second highest total in state history, writes John Wagner for the Post. He will tout it as one of several initiatives meant to spur job creation as the state recovers from the national recession.

CASINO SEES NO 2011 PROFIT: Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that although The Casino at Ocean Downs generated nearly $45 million in its first year, the facility still finished 2011 in the red, according to its owner.

DEATH PENALTY FOES: Benjamin Jealous, president of the national NAACP, is scheduled to appear in Annapolis this morning to support a renewed push to abolish Maryland’s death penalty, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

PISCATAWAYS RECOGNIZED: Hundreds of Piscataways gathered beneath the State House dome in Annapolis yesterday as Gov. O’Malley issued executive orders formally recognizing the Native American tribe as a distinct people, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun. It is the first time Maryland has given formal recognition to a tribe.

State recognition makes as much as $17 million in funding available to Piscataway members, as recognized Native Americans, through programs that can help them start or build businesses and in scholarships designated for tribal youths, as well as housing and public health assistance, Margie Hyslop reports for the Gazette.

PODCAST ANNAPOLIS: Nick Sohr and Danny Jacobs of the Daily Record yesterday began a weekly podcast taking a look at happenings in Annapolis.

TAX HIKES: A proposed bump in the gas and flush taxes and new regulations for septic systems are a few of the hot-button issues that could await Frederick County legislators as they head to Annapolis tomorrow, Bethany Rodgers writes for the Frederick News-Post.

RURAL UNITY: Several rural counties – in both Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore – have found that strength in numbers could make a difference in Annapolis, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post.

GERRYMANDERING: In an op-ed for the Sun, Nicholas Stephanopoulos writes that although the courts upheld Maryland’s recent Congressional redistricting plan, it did leave the door cracked for the possibility of finally defining “community of interest.”

TEACHER PENSIONS: The editorial board of the Sun derides the current public school teacher pension system, saying that it takes away from poor jurisdictions and gives to wealthier ones.

OPEN CURRIE HEARING: The editorial board of the Annapolis Capital strongly urges legislators who will be hearing about state Sen. Ulysses Currie’s ethical lapses to conduct those hearings in public.

DUNCAN TO RUN? Maryland Juice is blogging that two of its sources have provided credible hints that former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan is considering a run for comptroller in 2014.

MOONEY TO ANNOUNCE… Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney is planning to announce this morning whether he will challenge 10-term Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a man for whom he once worked on Capitol Hill, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. And Del. Kathy Afzali is poised to become the 6th member of the state legislature to file to run for higher office.

Both are Frederick County residents, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post, and Afzali has one year under her belt as a Maryland delegate.

CARDIN VULNERABLE? Some Republicans believe that U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s re-election may not be the typical cakewalk that Maryland Democrats have grown to expect, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com. Cardin already faces a primary challenge from eight Democrats, including state Sen. Anthony Muse, a well-known African-American from Prince George’s County.

While a series of Twitter posts by the Maryland Democratic Party last week had some observers wondering if it had decided to endorse Sen. Cardin ahead of the April primary, a party rep says the tweets just reflected points of view that were appearing on social media, Sarah Breitenbach reports for the Gazette.

RACE TO TOP: Except for a delay in a new teacher-evaluation program, Maryland has made a strong start toward achieving the ambitious school reform goals that won the state a coveted $250 million grant, reports Jean Marbella for the Sun.

FBI MOVE TO PG: Federal officials warned Prince George’s County officials not to count on any high-profile government offices moving in the near future, even as they gear up for a major campaign to lure the FBI to the county, Ben Giles reports for the Washington Examiner.

RETREAT KERFUFFLE: For the second year in a row, Prince George’s County Council leadership sparked criticism for holding its annual two-day retreat outside of the county, Daniel Leaderman reports for the Gazette.

WORCESTER REBUKED: Maryland’s comptroller sent a scathing letter to the Worcester County Department of Liquor Control, leaving no doubt that an alcohol shipment the county bought from Alabama was illegal due to the proper licenses not being secured, writes Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times.

GENDER ID BIAS: Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk will introduce a gender identity anti-discrimination bill in the Baltimore County Council later this month, similar to a law passed by the Howard County Council, reports Bryan Sears for Patch.com.

TERM LIMITS: Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said he will introduce a bill that limits council members to three terms beginning in 2014, Jon Meoli reports for the Towson Times.