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Published on March 19th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, March 19, 2012

HOUSE GETS BUDGET: A House committee Friday night passed a tentative state spending plan that hinges on two more controversial bills: a tax plan and the governor’s proposed budget plan, Danielle Gaines reports for the Gazette.

REDISTRICTING OVERHAUL UNLIKELY: Nine bills have been proposed to amend the redistricting process including ones to change the makeup of the commission that draws the lines, to increase the comment period on the proposed maps and to put a committee in place to take a look at the process and make recommendations. None will likely make it far, writes Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

CASINO BECOMES ALLY: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker picked up an unlikely ally Friday in his push for a billion-dollar casino at National Harbor: the potential owner of a competing facility, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Baker, who last month proposed bringing a $1 billion gaming facility to National Harbor in Oxon Hill, used his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday to talk about the potential benefits to other gaming sites, writes Daniel Leaderman for the Gazette.

Ben Giles in the Washington Examiner writes that delegates from other jurisdictions have reservations about proposals for a sixth gambling site in Maryland, particularly lawmakers from Baltimore who are wary of the impact the Las Vegas-style casino Baker has proposed would have on a casino in their city.

MarylandReporter.com has this podcast by Duane with a backer and opponent of the Prince George’s facility.

CASINO JOBS FAIR DRAWS CROWDS: Hundreds of people lined up on sun-drenched asphalt Saturday to see if they could get regular payouts, in the form of paychecks, from the new Maryland Live! Casino, a slots casino scheduled to open at Arundel Mills mall in about three months, Steve Kilar reports for the Sun.

TAX NOTICE ERRORS: About 1,800 Maryland seniors have received erroneous notices from the comptroller’s office saying they owe money for improperly overstating pension exclusions or claiming pension exclusions they were not entitled to on their 2008 e-filed tax returns, writes Daniel Menefee for MarylandReporter.com.

WINE & VINE CREDIT: State Sen. Ron Young is proposing a bill this session that would let state income-tax filers ask for credit on a quarter of certain expenses associated with creating or expanding wineries and vineyards, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News-Post.

TWITTER CAUCUS: Social media is playing a larger role during debate over legislation in Annapolis as lawmakers tweet their views on various issues, reports Annie Linskey for the Sun. As of last night, Linskey’s story had been retweeted 20 times and shared on Facebook more than 40.

CONFLICT DISCLOSURE: Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com reports that the state’s conflict of interest forms get scant attention from some legislators who are supposed to file them.

HIGH EARNER TAX TOO MUCH: The editorial board of the Sun opines that, disinclined as it may be to pity the plight of those making more than $500,000 a year, the state Senate, in its attempt to raise more revenue from such top earners, has gone too far.

GAS TAX: The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times writes that with rising gas prices gripping the nation, now is not the time to raise the state’s gas tax.

LEVEL EDUCATION SPENDING: Maryland counties will face a loss of tax revenue if they fail to keep up their required levels of education spending under a deal agreed to by the Maryland House and Senate, Michael Dresser writes for the Sun.

SEPTIC LEGISLATION: Michael Dresser of the Sun blogs that one important piece of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s legislative agenda took a small step forward Friday as a Senate panel approved legislation that seeks to control the spread of housing developments on septic systems.

UNDERFUNDED BAY PLAN: After decades of effort, redirection, study and planning, the good news is that Maryland is more than halfway to achieving its Chesapeake Bay restoration goals, opines the editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times. But the state’s current strategy is underfunded and this may prevent us from reaching the goal.

SKYBOX KERFUFFLE: Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV interviews Gov. O’Malley on his family’s use of the Ravens Stadium skybox. There is no proof that the skybox was used to court business.

FANTASY SPORTS BILL: Del. John Olszewski tried to win support from the Ways and Means Committee for a bill that would explicitly allow Marylanders to compete for cash and prizes in fantasy sports leagues, blogs Greg Masters for the Post.

IRISH ON: Sun reporter Annie Linskey picked up her camera on Friday to shoot some of the state’s lawmakers as they toddled around Annapolis showing their Irish in time for St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday.

At the State House in Annapolis, the Maryland Senate was treated to a rendition of Danny Boy at the start of the session on the day before St. Patrick’s Day. WBAL-AM has the Youtube video.

GOV’S BRO LANDS NEW GIG: Peter O’Malley, the brother of the governor of Maryland and the chief of staff to the mayor of Baltimore, has taken a new job with law firm Venable LLP focusing on government relations, John Wagner writes in the Post.

NEWS ROUNDUP: In the first hour of Friday’s Dan Rodricks’ show on WYPR-FM, Nicole Fuller of the Sun talks about the controversies in Anne Arundel County and Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com updates the state budget talks.

ROMNEY IN MD: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will swing through Maryland for a series of events on Wednesday in advance of the April 3 primary, the first indication that a state often overlooked in presidential contests could play a more significant role this year, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

MIKULSKI’S LANDMARK: Maryland’s U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is the longest-serving woman in Congress. Weijia Jiang reports on the landmark achievement for WJZ-TV.

CARDIN, MUSE MOBILIZED: With the primary just weeks away, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) and his challenger, Maryland state Sen. Anthony Muse, are mobilizing pastors and talking about diversity in the run-up to the April 3 vote, Hamil Harris reports in the Post.

Despite broadly similar positions, a few subtle differences among the Democrats running for the 6th Congressional District emerged at a forum in Gaithersburg yesterday, where several hundred voters turned out to hear the five candidates speak, John Fritze reports for the Sun. They offered different answers on how to handle Iran, for instance, and what should be done to address ethical lapses in Washington.

BROWN PRAISES DEMS in 1st: Kelley Allen of the Easton Star-Democrat writes that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, attending the Talbot County Democratic Forum, praised the three Democrats vying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris.

HARRIS NO FRIEND OF BAY: Writing in the Salisbury Daily Times, columnist Ron Pagano says of U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, during his years in the state Senate, he had a pitiful environmental record. He hasn’t learned anything since then. He’s still fighting those who care about and love the Chesapeake, Pagano says.

PRINCE GEORGE’S TOWN WISHLISTS: Funding for a veterans memorial, public works facility and new street lights are on the wishlists of three Prince George’s municipalities hoping for state money to make those projects a reality, reports Natalie McGill for the Gazette.

BLENDING THE NEW 8th: The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board wonders how U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen will blend together the new portion of his 8th District with the old one.

BREAK THE DEADLOCK: Writing that with the indictment of its county executive, the Sun editorial board is urging the Anne Arundel County Council to break the deadlock over replacing former Councilman Daryl Jones, who is serving a short stint in prison.

EDITORIALS TAKE ON ARUNDEL POLICE: Anne Arundel County officers need to explain their role in compiling dossiers in the scandal of Arundel County Executive John Leopold, opines the Sun editorialists.

Most of the information in the files is readily available through the Internet and its compilation — by volunteers or campaign workers, not county-paid police officers — would constitute normal political opposition research, writes the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital. But there are signs that the police went further than an Internet search as they tried to dig up dirt for Leopold.

ETHICS ERROR IN MO CO: The Montgomery County Ethics Commission ruled on Friday that a former inspector general inappropriately pressured a county official to give his deputy a pay raise, Victor Zapana reports in the Post.

USPS TAKEN TO TASK: U.S. Sens. Cardin and Mikulski have sent a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe expressing their outrage over the “total disregard for a transparent and public process” regarding the recently announced third study on the Eastern Shore Processing and Distribution Facility, writes Becca Newell in the Easton Star-Democrat.

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