January 20, 2012

State Roundup, January 20, 2012

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2013 BUDGET: The Capital’s Earl Kelly goes through some of the different spending initiatives in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2013 budget proposal and looks at how they would impact people in Anne Arundel County.

Senate President Mike Miller foresees the income caps on tax exemptions as the most difficult part of the governor’s proposal to get through the General Assembly, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.

Counties feel that O’Malley’s proposal dumps excessive costs on them, reports Christa Puccio of the Montgomery County Sentinel.

Three-fourths of Howard County residents would pay higher taxes, reports Lindsey McPherson of the Howard County Times.

WBAL TV’s David Collins speaks with several lawmakers about the proposed budget. John Rydell from WBFF hits the streets for reactions.

FLUSH TAX INCREASE: A new poll is showing that two-thirds of Marylanders support an increase in the flush tax to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, reports The Capital’s Pamela Wood.

This poll specifically says rural residents support the increase, even ones on septic systems, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Dan Menefee.

TEACHER PENSIONS: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to shift some of the nearly $1 billion annual cost of teacher pensions to Maryland’s local governments could force school boards to lay off teachers or hire less-qualified ones, several public education officials told Steve Kelly at the Gazette.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett on Thursday continued to call O’Malley’s plan to shift half the cost of teacher pensions a non-starter, even though the governor’s office calculates the county would gain money in the first year, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.

Bryan Sears of Patch.com reports that Baltimore County would be the biggest loser in terms of the teacher pension shift to the counties.

An editorial in the Washington Examiner says that O’Malley’s proposal to shift some teacher pension costs onto the counties is a good thing, since the state has no say on the terms or costs of those pensions.

APOLITICAL REDISTRICTING: Sen. James Brochin has introduced a bill that would create new guidelines for redistricting – including an appointed commission, a prohibition against using addresses as line-drawing guidelines, and extending all reforms to congressional redistricting, reports Jim Meoli of Patuxent Publishing.

RALLIES GALORE: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com runs down several rallies that are going on in Annapolis. His post includes a podcast on the anti-corporate campaigning rally from Duane Keenan.

END INEFFECTIVE EXEMPTIONS: The editorial board of The Daily Record reports that many in Annapolis do not know how well many of the state’s tax breaks actually work, but O’Malley’s proposal to end the exemption on the sale of precious coins or bullion is a good one.

Nick Sohr of The Daily Record blogs that in light of O’Malley’s proposal, the manager of three coin shows in Baltimore has threatened to move the events to another state.

CIGAR TAX: Health advocates are glad to see an increase in cigar taxes in O’Malley’s ’13 budget, but opponents say it will drive smokers to purchase them out of state, reports The Washington Times’ David Hill.

PG SLOTS/HOSPITAL: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker hopes that state officials keep the issues of funding for a new state-of-the-art regional hospital and whether slots come to Prince George’s County separated, reports Miranda Spivack of the Washington Post.

Although the new $600 million partnership between the county, the state, the University of Maryland Medical System and Dimensions Health System is exciting, there will not be further details available until March, reports the Washington Business Journal’s Ben Fischer.

JOB CREATION: Democrats and Republicans squared off on job creation initiatives during this legislative session at a Thursday event sponsored by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance.

QUICKER REMOVAL: Del. Jolene Ivey is circulating a constitutional amendment that would force elected officials convicted of crimes to leave office immediately after they plead or are found guilty, reports Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com.

FARM EXEMPTION: Sen. Ronald Young plans to introduce legislation that would create a new exemption in the estate tax for farmland, which the Salisbury Daily Times’ Jennifer Shutt reports could help preserve family farms.

GARAGIOLA TAX RETURNS: Senate Majority Leader and candidate for the 6th Congressional District Robert Garagiola released his tax returns for the last 10 years, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers.

DEM DEBATE: Three Democrats hoping to unseat Eastern Shore Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican, debated the issues this week, reports the Salisbury Daily Times’ Jennifer Shutt.

CARDIN CHALLENGERS: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin has 18 challengers – eight Democrats and 10 Republicans – for his Senate seat, Robert Baird reports for Capital News Service in the Prince George’s Sentinel.

TRANSPORTATION RALLY: Business leaders and politicians from both sides of the aisle rallied on Lawyer’s Mall for an increase in revenue for transportation, according to an Associated Press story in the Herald-Mail.

REDISTRICTING: Frederick County Commissioner C. Paul Smith’s lawsuit filed Nov. 22 against Gov. Martin O’Malley was dismissed last week in the Maryland Court of Appeals, but it will move forward in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, writes Sherry Greenfield in the Gazette.

LEED LEADER: Maryland ranks 6th in the nation for the most environmentally friendly LEED-certified space per resident, reports Jeff Clabaugh of the Baltimore Business Journal.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A new education advocacy group is calling for a loosening of Maryland’s charter school law to allow for more school choice and to close achievement gaps, Andrew Ujifusa reports in the Gazette.

CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: Del. Cheryl Glenn is proposing a bill to require carbon monoxide detectors in all public schools, reports Capital News Service’s Lizzy McLellan in the Montgomery County Sentinel.

RAT TRAFFICKING: Del. Pat McDonough is proposing a bill to protect Maryland’s borders – this time from out-of-state rats, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.

WASHINGTON COUNTY LIQUOR: A proposal to decrease the amount of liquor licenses allowed in Washington County – from one per 1,000 people in an election district to one per 3,500 people in an election district – has found its way to Annapolis, reports the Herald-Mail’s Andrew Schotz.

MIZEUR FOR COMPTROLLER? Del. Heather Mizeur’s recent campaign finance report says she has $247,500 cash on hand, and Maryland Juice’s David Moon has heard that she’s weighing a race for comptroller with these funds.

SCHUH FOR EXEC? Del. Steven Schuh has put together an exploratory committee to examine a 2014 run for Anne Arundel County Executive, reports The Sun’s Nicole Fuller.

CARROLL AGENDA: The Carroll County Delegation voted on its legislative priorities, reports The Carroll County Times’ Brandon Oland. Bills have to do with polling places and a controversial one allowing card games and casino nights for charitable fundraisers.

MO CO AFFORDABLE HOUSING: A new proposal to grant developers tax exemptions if they build twice the amount of affordable housing required by law could cost the county $60 million, and could cost developers millions in the long term, reports The Post’s Victor Zapana.

UNIVERSITY SPEECH CODES: Andrew Ujifusa reports in the Gazette that Maryland’s universities get mixed reviews on their policies regarding free expression, according to a new report on speech codes in U.S. higher education.

GAME WAGER: Rep. Andy Harris has made a bet with New Hampshire Rep. Frank Guinta on the results of Sunday’s AFC Championship between the Ravens and New England Patriots, reports The Sun’s John Fritze. If the Ravens win, Harris gets New England Clam Chowder, and if the Patriots win, Guinta gets half a dozen crab cakes.

EARLY PRIMARY: The early presidential primary is a boon to congressional incumbents, writes Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook includes items on Sen. Ben Cardin and Joanne Benson; soggy Senate offices; and the Chesapeake Bay plunge.