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Published on March 23rd, 2012 | by Len Lazarick

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State Roundup, March 23, 2012

HOUSE READY FOR FINAL BUDGET VOTE: After a marathon near-11-hour session that stretched from morning until night on Thursday, the House of Delegates fended off amendments to its near $36 billion budget, which will be up for a final vote Friday or Saturday, report Justin Snow and Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

The Post’s Aaron Davis and Greg Masters focus on an increase in the income tax – from 4.75% to 5% — for people with an adjusted gross income of more than $100,000.

The Washington Times’ David Hill talks about the budget proposal and a protest from residents who oppose increased income taxes. They drove cars around State Circle at noon Thursday, blaring their horns. Some received tickets. There’s video at the top of the page.

WBFF’s John Rydell filed a video report on the loud noon protest, as did WBAL-TV’s David Collins.

One of the most contentious budget issues is a proposal to shift teacher pension costs from the state to the counties. Del. John Donoghue offered an amendment to protect Washington County from being hurt by the shift, but it was defeated, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

And though it was proposed, a movement to cut $1 million in funds from the University of Maryland System in Hagerstown was nipped in the bud, Schotz also reported.

WBAL’s Robert Lang has a synopsis of the highlights and an audio report here.

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNCIL ON CASINO: Members of the Prince George’s County Council have been unhappy with proposals for a casino in National Harbor – mostly moved forward by County Executive Rushern Baker. Council members put together a detailed letter with their demands if a statewide referendum leads to a casino license there, reports Miranda Spivack of The Post.

PG GAMBLING: A coalition that wants to stop a high-end casino from being built in Prince George’s County delivered more than 2,000 petition signatures against adding more gaming sites in the county to the office of House Speaker Michael Busch Thursday, according to Margie Hyslop in the Gazette.

SLOTS OWNERSHIP SHIFT: The Post’s John Wagner reports that the Senate will consider an amendment that would end the state’s practice of owning slot machines in the state’s privately owned casinos.

AG CLINIC: The House also reversed a Senate budget decision that shifts $250,000 in University System of Maryland lobbyists to create an agricultural law clinic in the university’s law school, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

EXPANDING ONLINE DISCLOSURE: The Senate voted to expand online disclosure requirements to county officials statewide, reports John Wagner of The Washington Post.

Sen. Robert Zirkin, who proposed the amendment extending the disclosure to county officials, said it was a move to shine the light of day on government, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Dan Menefee.

The Examiner’s Ben Giles reports that this would make thousands of documents previously only accessible by going to an office in Annapolis much easier for the public to see.

AUDIT ACCOUNTABILITY: Amendments to the House budget that would put in place a plan to withhold money from agencies with negative findings from the Office of Legislative Audits’ reports failed on Thursday, but companion bills with bipartisan support are in the Senate, reports The Post’s Greg Masters and Aaron Davis.

FROZEN SPERM AND EGGS: Bills poised for passage in both chambers would mandate that a person could only used frozen eggs or sperm of a deceased person to conceive a child with that person’s written permission, writes The Sun’s Michael Dresser.

CRUNCH TIME: With just over two weeks left in the General Assembly session, The Capital’s Earl Kelly talks to members of the Anne Arundel County delegation about their priorities for legislation they’d like to get passed before the body adjourns sine die on April 9.

GINGRICH TO VISIT ANNAPOLIS: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich will campaign in Annapolis on Tuesday, reports The Sun’s John Fritze and Annie Linskey.

O’MALLEY ON ‘MORNING JOE:’ Gov. Martin O’Malley will be on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at 8:15 a.m. Friday, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

REGULATION REPEAL: The Maryland Chamber of Commerce saw nothing that would really help the average business in the 131 regulations O’Malley is proposing to strip from the law, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Daniel Menefee.

FRACKING PROGRESS: The Daily Record’s opinionators write that the House of Delegates has made the right choice in passing two more cautionary and safety enforcing bills surrounding drilling for natural gas in Western Maryland’s Marcellus shale.

RUNS IN THE FAMILY: Alisha George profiles legislative page Madison Getty, whose older siblings Nathan and Laura both served as pages when they were in high school, and whose father, Sen. Joseph Getty, has racked up the most floor time in the family.

U.S. POSTAL REFORM VOTE: Although U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski placed a hold on a bill that would reform the U.S. Postal Service, closing a mail processing facility in Easton and moving it to Delaware, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled it for a vote next week, reports Nicole Gaudiano of Gannett News Service in the Salisbury Daily Times.

Daniel Divilio of the Easton Star-Democrat has more on Mikulski’s opposition to the bill.

LEOPOLD TRIAL: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold will go on trial Sept. 4 for charges of misconduct and fraud, reports The Capital’s Erin Cox.

EDWARDS, ERVIN ENDORSE DELANEY: 6th District Democrat John Delaney was endorsed on Thursday by Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, reports The Post’s Ben Pershing.

Liberal American University professor Allan Lichtman, a former U.S. Senate candidate, gives his nod to John Delaney in the 6th Congressional District as someone who will bring a different career path to Congress.

DELANEY OUT-FUNDRAISES GARAGIOLA: Delaney also out-fundraised rival for the nomination State Sen. Rob Garagiola by a margin of 3-to-1, then personally loaned his campaign $1.3 million, John Fritze writes in the Baltimore Sun.

6TH DISTRICT TEA PARTY DEBATE: Tea Partiers in Funkstown hosted a forum for candidates hoping to hold the 6th Congressional District seat. Incumbent Roscoe Bartlett attended, as did all of the other Republicans and Democrat Ron Little, reports Dave McMillion for the Herald-Mail.

ROCKY GAP DEAL: Negotiations on a payment in lieu of taxes proposal could mean that the long-awaited Rocky Gap slots license is awarded soon, reports the Cumberland Times-News’ Matthew Bieniek.

MONTGOMERY ETHICS ISSUES: The Montgomery County Ethics Commission is often unable to perform its job, reports The Examiner’s Rachel Baye.

SARBANES: Some experts say the new odd-shaped 3rd Congressional District could help Rep. John Sarbanes run for the U.S. Senate, but the congressman says he doesn’t think about that, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

GOP NATIONAL COMMITTEE: An internal fight is raging within the Maryland Republican Party as a former state party chair and the former chairwoman of the Young Republican National Federation vie to serve as the state’s representative on the Republican National Committee, writes The Gazette’s Benjamin Ford.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette Reporters Notebook has items on honking protest; 6th District whoppers; Obama’s sign language; maintenance of effort; hair shaving; and a welcome to Romney.

USURPING LOCAL POWERS: Gazette columnist Blair Lee says Gov. Martin O’Malley’s permanent legacy will be a usurpation of local powers over planning, development and spending.

PRIMARY SNOOZE: The upcoming primary has generated little interest except for a few races, writes Barry Rascovar in his Gazette column.

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