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Published on February 28th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, February 28, 2012

GIFTED PROGRAM: A proposed regulation governing gifted education in Maryland has come under criticism from opponents who contend it would identify students for the program too early and limit opportunities for minorities and low-income students, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports. These education advocates from Montgomery County are petitioning the Maryland State Board of Education to hold off a vote planned for today on the proposal.

COUNTIES FIGHT PENSION SHIFT: Several legislators appeared at a forum in Annapolis on Monday to decry the proposed shift in teacher pensions and promote the need for change in the way schools are funded, reports Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com. The forum will be broadcast on the Marc Steiner Show later this week.

Frederick County leaders — like many others across the state — hope to make it clear they do not want Maryland to shift teacher pension responsibilities to the local level. The Board of County Commissioners and other local leaders are expected to go public today at a news conference to tell the state to “stop the shift,” reports Blair Ames for the Frederick News-Post.

Projecting that the proposed shift of Maryland teacher pension costs could threaten vital county services, the Montgomery County Council will have a panel discussion today to learn the extent of the potential damage, reports the Gazette’s Kate Alexander.

Wicomico County Executive Richard Pollitt, in an op-ed for the Salisbury Daily Times, writes that while “locals” need to be more aware of the impact on the state budget stemming from decisions on locally negotiated educator salaries, county government has no say in those decisions.

And Wicomico Councilman Joe Holloway agrees that the burden is too much for counties.

MILLIONAIRES’ TAX: Democratic lawmakers in Maryland are attempting to resurrect the 2008 millionaires’ tax as legislative support wanes for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $311 million package of tax increases, Hayley Peterson writes for the Washington Examiner.

CUTTING TAX DEDUCTIONS: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that lawmakers in Annapolis are trying to find ways to reduce the $1 billion deficit, including supporting an O’Malley proposal to scale back tax deductions for those earning more than $100,000 a year.

FRANCHOT ON BUDGET: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot joined Dan Rodricks from WYPR-FM yesterday to discuss job growth, transportation, taxes and the governor’s budget. Scroll down to click on the Monday, Feb. 27th link.

GAY MARRIAGE REFERENDUM: State Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin expects gay marriage to be successfully petitioned to referendum and, once in the voters’ hands, rejected, Daniel Divilio reports for the Cecil Whig.

UNIONS RALLY: Greg Masters of the Post reports that several hundred union members gathered last night in a sometimes boisterous rally outside the Maryland State House to support all things labor-friendly and decry what they described as a growing anti-union national sentiment.

SOCIAL MONITORING: In the Annapolis Capital, Mike Bock and Josh Cooper of Capital News Service write about legislation that would regulate how and if an employee’s social networking can be monitored by employers.

JUDGES OPPOSE WEEKEND HEARINGS: A Senate vote on an emergency bill to amend the Maryland Public Defender Act was postponed for a second day yesterday so lawmakers could hear from judges unhappy with a provision to open courts on weekends for bail hearings, Daniel Menefee of MarylandReporter.com reports.

FRACKING EFFECTS: While the portion of the Marcellus shale in Washington County probably isn’t developable for natural gas, drilling in Garrett County, might affect recreation in Washington County, including fishing, hunting, hiking and snowmobiling, Julie Greene writes for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

BOOZE LAWS TWEAKED: The legislature yesterday returned to the work of tweaking the state’s cumbersome alcohol laws to accommodate rule changes sought by restaurants, clubs and other retailers, blogs the Post’s Greg Masters.

SHIPPING WINERIES: The Baltimore Business Journal has updated its database of wineries that can ship in Maryland.

UM STUDENTS LOBBY: As hundreds of state residents descended on Annapolis to lobby legislators to fund public education and Medicaid yesterday, a delegation from the University of Maryland College Park traveled there to compete for limited dollars, Rebecca Lurye has the story for the Diamondback.

JACK WHO? The Sun’s John Fritze blogs that President Obama, in recognizing Gov. O’Malley at an education event yesterday, called him “Jack O’Malley — where’s Jack – Martin.” To which O’Malley replied, “I thought my son was right here.”

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: The deadline to register to vote or change party affiliation for the 2012 presidential primary in Maryland is 9 p.m. March 13, according to a brief in the Sun.

BONGINO ON GUNS: Chris Knauss of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and New York City policeman who is running to unseat U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, said he does not like carrying a gun, but he can’t understand why law-abiding, mentally stable citizens must go through an intense screening process in Maryland to carry one if they choose to do so.

6th DISTRICT FORUMS: A slew of candidate forums are being held for the highly contentious race for the 6th Congressional District, a seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican. Among them are two sponsored by the AARP and MarylandReporter.com, set for Sunday March 25 at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.

DELANEY AD: John Delaney, the Potomac businessman seeking the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, is up with a new television spot that focuses on lobbying – the main issue he has used to attack his opponent, state Sen. Rob Garagiola, John Fritze writes for the Sun. Scroll down the story to view the ad.

DELANEY MANAGERLESS? Delaney’s campaign for the 6th District appears to be without a manager, a potential mid-campaign change that comes about a month before the April 3 primary. Then again, maybe not, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

FREDERICK FOR NCLB WAIVER: Receiving a waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind Act would eliminate a “stigma” for schools and teachers, while still holding them accountable for NCLB standards, Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban says, writes Blair Ames for the Frederick News-Post.

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