April 24, 2012

State Roundup, April 24, 2012

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TAX INCREASES ON TABLE: Gov. Martin O’Malley went to Hagerstown to pay tribute to workers who have died on the job, to tour Hagerstown Community College’s latest academic building and to cut the ribbon for a new Maryland State Police barrack. But he also renewed his call for the legislature to return to Annapolis to approve the rest of a budget package that includes tax increases, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

Sherrie Johnson of WMAR-TV reports that Gov. O’Malley says he wants to have a consensus before ordering lawmakers back to Annapolis.

Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner writes that almost 40% of Montgomery County residents would see their income taxes climb under a new budget plan proposed by Senate President Mike Miller, who is meeting this morning over breakfast with O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch.

GAMBLING TO GET A PUSH: As leaders in Annapolis ponder the scope of a possible special legislative session, the heads of two of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions – Prince George’s County and Baltimore city – are watching for an opportunity to ramp up their push for a state gambling bill, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

ANNAPOLIS ROUNDUP: Reporter Charles Robinson of Maryland Public Television and Washington Post reporter John Wagner join Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM to discuss the latest updates on the legislative issues in Annapolis.

HIGHER ED SUFFERS: William Kirwan, the University System of Maryland chancellor, writes in a Sun op-ed that without a special legislative session, the state’s vaunted schools and universities will suffer.

Still with no word on a special session two weeks after the General Assembly adjourned having failed to pass a revenue bill to fund the full state budget, higher education officials and students alike have begun to worry, writes Justin Snow for MarylandReporter.com.

LOWERY SHOULD JUMP IN: Even before she gets a chance to become well-acquainted with Maryland and its public school system, the editorial board of the Sun is urging Lillian Lowery, the recently appointed schools superintendent, to “hit the ground running … to make progress on the array of thorny issues that require her immediate attention.”

FRACKING STUDY: Gov. O’Malley’s legislation to pay for studies on the effects of fracking on the environment apparently got caught up in the same mess that prompted the “doomsday” budget. But the studies need to be done, writes the editorial board for the Sun, and it’s not uncommon to make the industry that causes the pollution to pay for it.

O’MALLEY TURNS ON CHARM: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that if Martin O’Malley runs for president in 2016, he may have one small but influential voting bloc locked up: the national media. During a recent appearance before two dozen reporters at a centrist Democratic think tank in D.C., O‘Malley was more candid than most pols, and was, by turns, serious, charming, thoughtful, philosophical, funny, self-effacing — and thoroughly dialed in on every issue he was queried about, Kurtz says.

PEPCO PITCHES RATE HIKE: Margie Hyslop of the Gazette reports that Pepco and fellow subsidiary Delmarva Power and Light likely would have their credit ratings lowered this year if the electric utilities are not granted rate increases that would allow them to recover what they have spent to improve reliability, a company executive told Maryland regulators yesterday.

CUMMINGS EYES WAL-MART: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has requested a meeting with Wal-Mart officials in response to allegations that the retailer covered up a bribery scheme to expand its business in Mexico, blogs John Fritze of the Sun.