January 23, 2012

State Roundup, January 23, 2012

Print More

HOMELESS STUDENTS: The number of homeless students in Maryland has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 6,721 to 14,117 last school year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education, Jessica Anderson writes for the Baltimore Sun.

SCHOOL FUNDING: As counties struggle to meet their education funding requirements under the state’s maintenance of effort program, legislators wonder if shifting teacher pension costs under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget plan would make a difference, Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

MIEMSS AUDITED: The Office of Legislative Audits found the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems lacked accountability in collecting ambulance license fees, didn’t follow laws when closing the budget books and didn’t closely track spending on corporate purchasing cards, Erin Cox reports for the Annapolis Capital.

ONE MAN, TWO ROLES: Gov. O’Malley is facing scrutiny for not only taking on the most ambitious legislative agenda of his six years in office but for continuing his role as head of the Democratic Governors Association, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

NEW WIND PROPOSAL: Borrowing ideas from a New Jersey bill, O’Malley is to unveil today a new approach to promoting offshore wind power that he hopes the General Assembly will find easier on consumers than last year’s plan, the Sun’s Michael Dresser reports.

The Post’s Aaron Davis reports that lawmakers from both parties and lobbyists for energy firms are poised to line up against the multibillion-dollar subsidy.

BUDGET, PROJECTS: As Maryland meets its fiscal day of reckoning, some of O’Malley’s budget proposals have merit and some of them not so much, opines the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital.

Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM speaks with the Post’s Aaron Davis about Gov. O’Malley as he defends his plan to raise some taxes. Scroll down and click on the audio link to Friday, January 20.

FLUSH TAX HIKE: With the Chesapeake Bay cleanup at a critical juncture, O’Malley is calling on Marylanders to double down on their contribution to the effort, proposing to raise the “flush fee” every household pays from $2.50 to $5 a month, on average, reports Tim Wheeler in the Sun.

Environment Secretary Robert Summers told Eastern Shore lawmakers the Bay Restoration Fund needs an additional $385 million to upgrade 67 sewage treatment plants in Maryland and echoed Gov. O’Malley’s call to double the flush tax to $60 a year, Daniel Menefee writes for MarylandReporter.com.

Before doubling the tax residents pay to fund sewage plant upgrades and other programs designed to protect the bay, the state needs to come up with a fairer way to ensure necessary projects get completed in smaller communities and more rural areas, according to the editorial board for the Carroll County Times.

BAY CLEANUP : The cost to reduce the nitrogen St. Mary’s County residents discharge into the Chesapeake Bay could reach $143.6 million, a work group told the county commissioners, writes Jason Babcock for SoMDNEWS.com.

In the meantime, the Cumberland Times-News writes that Del. Wendell Beitzel has filed a bill to amend the state constitution to ban the transfer of funds designated for Chesapeake Bay cleanup to other purposes.

O’MALLEY’S AGENDA: The Sun editorial board writes that the next two and a half months appear destined to provide a defining moment for O’Malley’s second term in office, in which he has set forth an ambitious agenda.

In an op-ed for the Sun, Jabriera Handy writes that the state needs to focus more on helping incarcerated youth deal with their situation than in building more prisons.

GAY MARRIAGE: David Hill of the Washington Times reports that O’Malley is expected to introduce his gay marriage bill today.

REDISTRICTING SUITS: The legal landscape for Maryland’s recent congressional redistricting has become clearer with the dismissal of two more lawsuits, including one filed by a Washington County man, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Still, challenges to the plan remain alive.

GARAGIOLA LINKS: Writing in the Daily Record, Madeline Marshall says that a Capital News Service probe into emails claiming a connection between Sixth District Democratic congressional candidate Rob Garagiola and Jack Abramoff, who served time in jail for conspiracy to bribe public officials, are unfounded.

ANNAPOLIS NOTES: Among other items in Andrew Schotz’s Annapolis notes for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, Del. LeRoy Myers wants to expand a proposed amendment to Washington County’s gaming law affecting the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

W. MD BILLS: Among bills filed by Western Maryland legislators are one to control panhandling in Allegany County, filed by Del. Kevin Kelly. Sen. George Edwards has filed a bill that applies to correctional officers in Garrett County entitled the “Correctional Officers Bill of Rights,” and is co-sponsoring a “Caylee’s Law” bill, writes Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News.

SPARROWS POINT: O’Malley was at Sparrows Point on Friday to tout the opening of the steel mill under RG Steel, Mark Reutter reports for Baltimore Brew.

RATS: Aaron Davis of the Post blogs about state Del. Pat McDonough’s latest attempt to keep some out of Maryland – this time D.C. rats.

CHAT WITH SARBANES: From noon to 1 p.m. today, you can join an online discussion, on Maryland Juice, with U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes about the role of corporate money in the political process.

EHRLICH ON POLITICS: Former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who had a tumultuous relationship with The Baltimore Sun while in office, will now contribute regularly to its pages, writing a column focused on national politics, John Fritze writes for the Sun.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Montgomery County officials released a sobering analysis this week of a bill intended to spur affordable housing, saying that the county could lose $60 million in tax revenue in the short term, and developers would lose millions in the long run, Victor Zapana reports for the Post.