May 18, 2012

State Roundup, May 18, 2012

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TAX HIKES IN 2013? After voting this week to raise income tax rates on the state’s highest earners, Maryland lawmakers aren’t ruling out more tax increases next year, writes David Hill for the Washington Times.

DEMOCRAT AGAINST TAX HIKE: As Republican delegates railed against the proposed state income tax hike Wednesday afternoon, a lone freshman Democrat from one of the most liberal and affluent districts inside the Capital Beltway got up to explain why she too could not vote for the taxes, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. I believe this discriminates against two-income families with children at home,” said Del. Ariana Kelly, a Bethesda mom with two young children at home.

PENSION SHIFT: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that the shift in teacher pensions will cost the local jurisdictions million of dollars more over the next four years.

FRUITFUL SESSION: The editorial board of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that the General Assembly’s special session was quick and fruitful, but that less hot air and more attention to business could have accomplished the same result within the constraints of the regular 90-day session.

PET PEEVES: Gazette columnist Blair Lee airs the pet peeves that make him “wanna holler” including the state’s “balanced approach” to budget fixes and the Washington Post’s “hit job” on Mitt Romney.

FISCAL PROBLEMS: Barry Rascovar in his Gazette column says that despite the tax increases, the state’s fiscal woes will continue.

PIT BULL BILL, BUT WHEN? House Speaker Michael Busch said the General Assembly should do something about a recent Court of Appeals ruling that calls pit bulls inherently dangerous. But, blogs Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record, he did not say whether that meant the matter could be addressed when the legislature is called back for a second special session later this summer.

MCDONOUGH ON CRIME: WBAL-TV reports that state Del. Pat McDonough, continuing his call for Gov. Martin O’Malley to use state police to control “roving mobs of black youths” in downtown Baltimore, said, “It’s my opinion that the mayor of Baltimore City is engaged in a cover-up and (she’s) trying to downplay this, No. 1; and, No. 2, she has no real clue as to how to deal with it.” City officials called the claims outrageous and disappointing.

Christian Schaffer of WMAR-TV interviews McDonough about his comments and gets reaction from Del. Curt Anderson, who calls McDonough “Rush Limbaugh Jr.”

MCDONOUGH THE BLOVIATOR: Opinionators at the Sun write that state Del. Pat McDonough, bloviating about “mobs of black youth,” has single-handedly given Baltimore officials justification for withholding information from the public since here’s an irresponsible politician itching to give people the false impression that the Inner Harbor is especially unsafe — no matter that the city crime rate is falling.

GEITHNER AT GBC: At a breakfast of the Greater Baltimore Committee, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised President Obama’s handling of the recession and outlined the president’s financial reform wish list, which includes cutting small business taxes and maintaining the federal student loan interest rate. Steve Kilar reports in The Sun.

INTERIM LABOR SECRETARY: Scott Jensen, Maryland’s deputy secretary of labor, stepped up as interim secretary, filling a job emptied when Alexander Sanchez left this week to become chief of staff to Baltimore’s mayor, reports Jamie Smith Hopkins for the Sun.

HARRIS CUTS NOAA FUNDS: David Moon of Maryland Juice writes that he found a press release on U.S. Rep. Andy Harris’ website in which Harris apparently “brags that he succeeded in cutting more than half a million dollars from the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Moon writes that last December, the Montgomery County Council spent $12 million to keep NOAA in Silver Spring and that “Rep. Roscoe Bartlett voted for his Maryland GOP colleague’s bill, at the same time that he is struggling to appeal to Montgomery County voters.”

CALL TO PRAYER OK? Had it been a Carroll County government employee and not a county commissioner who sent out an email inviting employees to pray with them, they would face disciplinary actions, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times. Commissioners, however, are not bound by county employee policies, according to Roberta Windham, the county’s media liaison.

BA CO SAVINGS PLAN: Baltimore County Council members are poised to adopt a lean spending plan that would achieve savings largely through early retirements and reorganizations in a number of government departments, Alison Knezevich writes for the Sun.

BA CO SCHOOL SAVINGS: And Liz Bowie, also reporting for the Sun, writes that Baltimore County school officials told middle and high school principals last week that they must limit the number of leadership positions next year to save $814,000, a move teachers say means schools have again been targeted for cuts.

HORSE RACING: On Preakness weekend, Lindsey Robbins in the Gazette writes that there is continued turmoil in Maryland’s thoroughbred industry.

SENATE RULE CHANGE: Senate President Mike Miller is suggesting the Senate change its rules so it would pass the state budget earlier in the session,  Danielle Gaines reports in the Gazette.

GAMBLING: Efforts to increase gambling for local nonprofit fundraising could complicate a special session on gaming if it occurs later this year, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette.

INTERNET SCAMS: Benjamin Ford in the Gazette describes what the attorney general’s office is doing about Internet scams, which continue to defraud victims.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on the House tally board; Ike Legett’s teaching; Annapolis time; McDonough’s press release; and O’Malley’s New Hampshire trip.