January 16, 2012

State Roundup, January 16, 2012

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ETHICS RULES: A new ethics panel of seven state senators will consider posting Maryland lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements online and establishing sanctions that could include fines for ethical transgressions, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

Click here for an interview with Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, the chairman of the Special Committee on Ethics Reform, as he talks about ethics issues with Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

OH, NOW I SEE: Throwing out the textbook explanation and tossing in humor, Annapolis Capital columnist Eric Hartley explains how a bill becomes law, at least in Annapolis.

PLANMARYLAND: Eastern Shore delegates told a state official Friday that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s PlanMaryland, which seeks to control sprawl, amounts to centralized planning and will restrict the private property rights of rural residents, Ellen Stodola of Capital News Service writes in the Cecil Whig.

The legislators met with state Secretary of Planning Richard Hall on Friday to discuss PlanMaryland. You can view a snippet of the discussion, videotaped by the Easton Star-Democrat, on Youtube.

PENNY HIKE: Sun columnist Jean Marbella remarks on the casualness of Gov. O’Malley dropping his “druthers” for a possible penny hike in the sales tax. The Sun editorial board details why this tax increase is a bad idea and shows poor leadership.

“Lock up your wallets! The Maryland General Assembly is back in session,” goes the old saw. Given the governor and legislature’s packed agenda this year, it’s the truth, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post.

300 JOBS: An estimated 300 jobs would come from $23 million in state park and public land projects O’Malley has proposed, reports Scott Dance for the Baltimore Business Journal.

SLOTS BID REJECTED: A Maryland panel has rejected one of two remaining bidders for a slots license in Western Maryland’s Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Western Maryland because of “continuing deficiencies” in both its financing plan and business model, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

The commission’s action leaves one remaining bidder, Evitts Resort LLC, vying for the license for the slots parlor, Gary Haber reports for the BBJ. Background checks on the company are expected to be completed in February.

OPEN MIND: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is urging state lawmakers from his jurisdiction to “keep an open mind” about hosting a gambling site, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

CASINO HIRING: The employment center for Maryland Live! will be hiring 1,500 people to fill spots in the casino, as well as in marketing, food and beverage services and security information technology and finance, reports Rosemary Toohey for WTOP-AM. It opens at 10 a.m. today in Hanover, and walk-ins are welcome.

GAMING & PISCATAWAY: Official stonewalling and tribal rivalry guaranteed that Maryland’s Piscataway would not get into the gambling business, writes Sun columnist Dan Rodricks.

RALLY IN ANNAPOLIS: Hundreds of progressive leaders are expected to rally in Annapolis this evening in honor of Martin Luther King Day in a call for jobs, justice and equality. Maryland Juice runs the press release.

ELECTRIC RATE DROP: WBAL-AM is reporting that some electricity customers could see their rates go down in March.

HEALTH CARE REFORM: While attorneys general in Virginia, Florida and a dozen other states have sued to block federal health care reform, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is leading the charge to support the Affordable Care Act before the U.S. Supreme Court, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

O’MALLEY IN S.C.: O’Malley will spend Martin Luther King Day on the hustings in South Carolina trying to convince GOP primary voters not to support Republican Mitt Romney for president, Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun.

O’Malley, who is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, will hold a news conference on Romney’s “legacy of job destruction and lack of support for middle-class families looking for a fair shot at the American Dream,” John Wagner of the Post writes.

JOB SEARCH? Sources tell Inside Charm City blogger Stan Moore that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris’ Chief of Staff Kevin Reigrut is shopping his resume around in South Carolina in search of a job. Reigrut was said to be the one responsible in the recent underage drinking scandal in Harris’ office.

CHOPTANK BRIDGE: Chris Knauss of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that if funding for wetlands mitigation and construction money for a new Dover Bridge makes it through the budget process during this year’s General Assembly, state Sen. Richard Colburn says construction could begin as early as late summer.

The problem is the State Highway Administration doesn’t have money to start construction on the bridge, which is functionally obsolete, Kelley Allen reports for the Easton Star-Democrat.

SUPER SEARCH: Baltimore County’s Board of Education is seeking input from residents concerning its search for a new superintendent of schools during three meetings to be held this week, Steve Kilar writes for the Baltimore Sun.

ROAD UPGRADES: After years of acrimony and delay, a deal between Clarksburg developers and Montgomery County officials could lead to long-awaited road improvements in exchange for $15 million of county funding, Victor Zapana reports for the Post.

MORE COPS: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has pledged to add nearly 300 officers to the county’s police department by the end of his first term, Ben Giles writes for the Washington Examiner.