State Roundup, February 2, 2011

February 02, 2012 at 8:05 am

STATE OF THE STATE: In his 6th State of the State address, Gov. Martin O’Malley called on Maryland lawmakers yesterday to make “tough choices,” including backing several tax increases that he argued are needed to maintain the state’s top-ranked schools and rebuild its transportation infrastructure, Aaron Davis and John Wagner report for the Post.

He told them he plans to introduce a bill that would add a 2% sales tax on gas annually for three years. The measure, he said, would eventually create 7,500 jobs and raise $613 million annually for road and transit projects, writes Scott Dance for the Baltimore Business Journal.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Gov. O’Malley declared that the state is strong.

O’Malley said that spending more on transportation infrastructure and schools will guarantee a stronger state in coming years, Earl Kelly reports in the Annapolis Capital.

In the Cumberland Times Union, Brian Witte of the Associated Press writes that O’Malley urged lawmakers to raise taxes to spur job growth through investments in schools, roads, bridges and wastewater treatment improvements.

To balance that budget, the governor proposed $800 million in spending cuts and reductions this year, but his new job creation initiatives would require new taxes on everything from income to gas, Dave Nyczepir of Capital News Service writes in the Easton Star Democrat. Cuts alone won’t do it this year, O’Malley said.

It was an upbeat, 33-minute speech in which the governor issued a spirited call for an aggressive program to invest in jobs and honor the “human dignity” of families, whether the parents are gay or straight, Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey write for the Sun.

Duane Keenan, recording for MarylandReporter.com, offers up highlights in a podcast from the address.

From the Annapolis Capital, here’s a text of the speech.

REACTION: Republican leadership criticized O’Malley’s budget as a jobs killer, and local leaders said his plans to raise taxes comes at the worst possible time for struggling Maryland residents, Ben Giles writes for the Washington Examiner.

“All the governor did today was propose tax after tax after tax,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin of Gov. O’Malley’s State of the State address while Democratic Sen. Jamie Raskin said “It was a great speech, and what we needed to hear.” Megan Poinski writes for MarylandReporter.com.

Sen. David Brinkley called O’Malley’s delivery “lackluster” and said the audience reception matched it, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post.

The Sun editorial board writes that O’Malley made a strong argument for continued investment in public services — but did too little to make Marylanders comfortable with the cost.

And the governor’s move to levy a 6% sales tax on purchases at the pump fell flat with Frederick County lawmakers and officials, Rodgers reports in the News Post.

GAY MARRIAGE: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes about Peter Sprigg, a Montgomery County resident who is senior fellow with the conservative Family Research Council, and his interesting reasons for opposing gay marriage.

DRIVERS LICENSES: Some Maryland lawmakers want to pass a law extending driver license renewals from five to eight years. But that bill is already facing tough opposition, Kathleen Cairns reports for WBFF-TV.

WIND ANNOUNCEMENT: Gov. O’Malley joins U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today to announce what they say will be a “major step” toward setting up offshore wind generators off the coast of Ocean City, Robert Lang of WBAL-AM reports.

CONNECTION CHARGES: State Sen. Douglas Peters won key support in Annapolis for a bill he hopes will help unravel a host of mysteries about how much suburban homeowners are charged for water and sewer connections and whether that matches what utilities and developers actually paid to install them, Miranda Spivack reports for the Post.

OUTAGE CHARGE: Adam May of WJZ-TV reports that BGE had been charging consumers a bit more following power outages, but the Public Service Commission has now put the kibosh on those charges.

BAG FEE IN PG? Prince George’s County Council member Mary Lehman and state Del. Barbara Frush are pushing for a law that would require Prince George’s County shoppers to pay a fee for disposable bags, saying it is an environmental initiative aimed to reduce the use of disposable bags, writes Lindsey McPherson of the Laurel Leader.

Environmental organizations said a similar fee in Washington, D.C., has sharply reduced the amount of trash in the Anacostia River, CNS’s Drew Grossman writes in the Daily Record.

BILLS & BUSINESS: The Maryland Chamber Action Network addresses looks at legislation that will affect businesses should they pass the General Assembly this year including combined reporting, a health bill and a possible tax on digital downloads.

BASHING PLANMARYLAND: The state’s chief planning official spent last Friday morning tied to the whipping post as southern Maryland lawmakers took turns bashing PlanMaryland, O’Malley’s new smart growth initiative that rural legislators fear will usurp local zoning authority, Jeff Newman reports for SoMdNews.com.

ASSESSMENT ERROR: A Baltimore city councilman says that his office told state assessors several years ago that they had mistakenly valued a large Federal Hill home as if it were a fraction of its true size, writes Scott Calvert for the Sun.

ALI RUNS FOR BOE: Former state Del. Saqib Ali announces that he is running for the Montgomery County Board of Education, Maryland Juice reports.

QUICKER FDA APPROVAL: Drugs for chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes would move through the Food and Drug Administration approval process more rapidly under a bipartisan bill U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski will unveil today, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

UNSEATING HOYER: Mark Miller of Capital News Service writes in SoMdNews.com that while U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has the money, the name recognition and the power in Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, state Del. Anthony O’Donnell, the chief Republican vying to unseat him, is undaunted by all that.

On Saturday morning, more than 100 supporters joined O’Donnell during the opening of his campaign headquarters in Prince Frederick, Katie Fitzpatrick reports for SoMdNews.com.

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