April 19, 2012

State Roundup, April 19, 2012

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MILLER DENIES GAMBLING AS ISSUE: Contradicting what has been said since the close of the General Assembly session, Senate President Mike Miller wrote in a letter to Maryland senators that there’s been “tremendous misinformation” circulating about the final day of the session and insisted that he did not hold up a bill to raise income taxes over legislation to expand gambling. Annie Linskey of the Sun writes the story.

Aaron Davis and John Wagner of the Post write that House Speaker Michael Busch did not back off an earlier claim that Miller’s “obsession” with the gaming bill was central to the session’s outcome.

TEACHERS URGE SPECIAL SESSION: The AP reports in the Frederick News-Post that the Maryland State Education Association turned on a “Doomsday Clock” yesterday outlining the wide-ranging effects of about $500 million in cuts streaking across a television screen in red, as teachers, librarians and police implored Gov. Martin O’Malley and lawmakers to call a special session to repair the damage before July 1 when they would take effect.

Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com talked to a University of Maryland student affected by the cuts.

UM STUDENTS TO PROTEST CUTS: The editorial board of the Diamondback is urging students to turn out today to rally against what could be major cuts to higher education following passage of the doomsday budget in Annapolis.

O’MALLEY SAYS ITS CLOSER: After meeting with key state senators Tuesday afternoon, Gov. O’Malley said progress is being made toward calling a special session. The meeting came hours after Republican lawmakers called on the governor to let the default budget stand, saying the 2% spending increase it includes is enough, Earl Kelley of the Annapolis Capital writes.

The editorial board of the Sun writes that not all of the cuts in the state’s “doomsday” scenario are so terrible; some are perfectly good ideas. But the General Assembly still needs to hold a special session.

DELEGATE SAYS NO TO GAMING BILLS: The chair of the gambling subcommittee in the House of Delegates hopes there are no gaming bills in any special session to fix the current budget mess — there are not enough votes to pass a 6th casino, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

STEADY STATE PROPERTY TAX: The Board of Public Works yesterday held the state property tax steady at 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value, but Comptroller Peter Franchot is warning about rising debt service obligations in upcoming years, the AP reports in the Daily Record.

BUT TROUBLE AHEAD: But Franchot warned that residents may need to pay $1.4 billion extra to pay off the state’s debt in the next few years, saying, “I just want to indicate to everyone that we have some significant problems looming on the horizon,” Brian Hughes reports for the Washington Examiner.

David Hill of the Washington Times also reports on the Board of Public Works meeting.

BWI CAB CONTRACT: Justin Snow of MarylandReporter.com writes that, after more than a year of controversy, the Board of Public Works approved a contract granting a Maryland taxi franchise the continuing exclusive right to operate and manage the cab service at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

POULTRY INDUSTRY HONORED: Deborah Gates of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that more than 600 farmers and supporters of poultry, including Gov. O’Malley, gathered to salute the industry that is an economic driver of the Maryland economy.

POULTRY WASTE SUIT: Tim Wheeler of the Sun reports that a new trial date has been set for Oct. 9 in an environmental group’s lawsuit accusing an Eastern Shore farm couple and Perdue Farms of polluting a Chesapeake Bay tributary. The case brought by the Waterkeepers Alliance was originally scheduled to begin this week, but was postponed as the judge tries to encourage the sides to try to reach a settlement.

POLL GIVES DEMS SHOT: David Moon of Maryland Juice writes about a new poll that shows that Republicans are losing ground in House races, giving John Delaney a shot a beating incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland’s 6th District.