State Roundup, April 2, 2012

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BUDGET HAGGLES CONTINUE: State lawmakers, who are set to leave Annapolis a week from today, are still haggling over major parts of a $36 billion budget, including dueling proposals that would affect how many Marylanders pay higher income taxes, John Wagner writes in the Post.

WIND WINS IN HOUSE: A bill to subsidize development of what could be the nation’s first Atlantic offshore wind farm — one of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature initiatives — won approval Friday in the Maryland House of Delegates, writes Greg Masters in the Post.

The proposal would set a regulatory system paving the way for wind farms off the Eastern Shore in an effort to bolster the state’s renewable-energy portfolio, David Hill reports in the Washington Times.

The House passed the measure amid accusations Gov. Martin O’Malley secured votes on the House Economic Matters Committee with disparity grants to committee members’ districts, Dan Menefee reports in

The editorial board for the Salisbury Times writes that although the wind measure is far from a done deal, and has undergone changes (with more amendments almost certain to be proposed), this progress is encouraging.

COUNTIES BRISTLE: As the General Assembly session rushes to a close, many conservative lawmakers and local officials are battling to halt a series of bills that they say would shift decision-making power from counties to Annapolis, Annie Linskey writes in the Sun. One would force counties to require sprinkler systems in new housing.

BALANCING THE BUDGET: Hayley Peterson and Steve Contorno of the Washington Examiner take a look at the differences between Maryland and Virginia when it comes to trying to balance their budgets. The Old Dominion relies almost entirely on a string of spending cuts and Maryland lawmakers push for a multimillion-dollar package of new taxes.

SPRAWLING SPRAWL: Rich Hall, Maryland’s director of planning, has a bird’s eye view of the state’s past: While it took three centuries to develop the first 650,000 acres in Maryland, the next 1 million acres have been paved over in just the last 40 years – and at a rate three times faster than the state’s population, McKay Jenkins writes in the Urbanite.

SHOTS OVER SLOTS: Advocates of a proposed casino in Prince George’s County sought over the weekend to bolster the support of state delegates from the jurisdiction with talk of several proposed amendments to pending legislation, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

Earlier, Wagner wrote of a turf battle over Maryland’s gambling market, which intensified Friday as companies with opposing views of a proposed Prince George’s County casino traded accusations about the other side’s interests and motives.

An AP report in the Daily Record says that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has expressed her support for allowing table games and a casino in Prince George’s County.

The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that the Senate passing a bill to OK a new casino in Prince George’s does a disservice to the owners of Maryland Live! and to Anne Arundel County taxpayers — who have voted twice for a casino in their jurisdiction.

TABLE GAMES BILL: The crackle of fresh playing cards and the clackety-clack of a roulette ball could one day accompany the ding-ding-ding of slot machines at Ocean Downs, reports Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times. State lawmakers are weighing a bill that would let casino operators add table games along with video lottery terminals.

CIGGY SMUGGLING: Comptroller Peter Franchot, representatives from his field enforcement division and the Center for Tobacco Regulation will call for tougher penalties for cigarette smugglers, says an AP report in the Daily Record.

JOBS ON RISE: Maryland added 8,000 jobs in February, rising for the sixth consecutive month — the longest string in six years, according to federal figures released Friday, Kevin James Shay reports for the Gazette.

O’MALLEY ROCKS: First the St. Patrick’s day concert at the White House. Now an interview where he effuses over Bruce Springsteen. Gov. O’Malley is showing his rocker side again, blogs Jill Rosen in the Sun.

A LESSON IN SPIN: A mailer by Del. Richard Impallaria, a Republican candidate for the nomination to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd District, gives a lesson in how to deal with the fact that a rival has gotten the most desirable endorsements from party luminaries, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.

VOTERS GUIDE: The Annapolis Capital is offering an online voters guide for tomorrow’s primary.

Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Daily Mail offers voters a preview of what to expect tomorrow. Here’s a list of polling places in Washington County.

DRUMMING UP SUPPORT: Candidates in Maryland’s competitive political contests fanned out across the state for a final weekend of handshaking ahead of tomorrow’s primary, hoping to gin up interest in an election that has largely failed to capture voters’ attention, write John Fritze and Matthew Hay Brown in the Sun. The story appears in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

POORAN RUNS: Kristin Barkley of the Cumberland Times-News reports that 6th Congressional District Democratic candidate Milad Pooran says his medical training will do him well in office: “I’m trained to look at evidence and act. All of my opponents are lawyers. Lawyers are trained to look at evidence and argue. … At some point, I?don’t think our country can take any more of this partisan bickering.”

CLINTON DELANEY ROBOCALL: President Bill Clinton has taped a robocall message for 6th Congressional District Democrats announcing his support for John Delaney in tomorrow’s Democratic Primary. Scroll down to listen.

CONGRESSIONAL RACE BUZZ: Pete McCarthy of the Frederick News Post offers a preview of tomorrow’s primary: What Frederick County voters can expect — and political observers agree — is that the 6th and 8th District congressional races will generate plenty of buzz.

FOR BARTLETT: Editor “Streiff” at Red Maryland offers a “personal, not a site” endorsement for Roscoe Bartlett to go on to an 11th term as congressman for the 6th District.

BARTLETT THROWS A BOMB: After weeks of a relatively subdued campaign, a group allegedly aligned with 10-term Republican Bartlett sent a bombshell of an email on Saturday to registered Republicans in Montgomery County’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District attacking Sen. David Brinkley, writes Glynis Kazanjian for

SEEKING HARRIS’S SEAT: Democrats from Ocean City to Cockeysville will line up to determine who challenges U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in the general election. Campaigning to take him on are John LaFerla, Kim Letke and Wendy Rosen, who all believe the first-term Republican hasn’t done enough to protect the Chesapeake Bay or boost the economy, Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times writes.

SENATE RACE: Two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate were raising their voices, arguing over who attended which debate, when a third candidate, Richard Douglas, started shaking his hands in the air as he urged the other Republicans trying to wrestle one of Maryland’s U.S. Senate seats from Ben Cardin “to keep your eye on the ball,” Erin Cox reports in the Annapolis Capital.

SUPPORT FOR ROMNEY: Jeremy Cox in the Salisbury Daily Times writes that, like much of the nation’s more conservative areas, the Lower Shore isn’t exactly flocking to the former Massachusetts governor.

GINGRICH IN MD: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be campaigning in Western Maryland today ahead of Tuesday’s primary. He’s scheduled to hold a rally at the Frederick Motor Co. at 11 a.m. and to speak at Hood College at 2 p.m., according to the Sun.