State Roundup, January 8, 2010

The aftermath of Sheila Dixon’s resignation remains front page news, not to mention the departure of a top O’Malley aide and public safety issues facing the state legislature this year.

Baltimore City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered a review of all city agencies in preparation of her ascendence to the city’s highest office, Julie Scharper reports in The Baltimore Sun. In the Baltimore Business Journal, Gary Haber focuses on businesses’ hopes that Rawlings-Blake will continue Dixon’s generally pro-business policies, as well as Rawlings-Blake’s pledge to have an “open door” approach to the area business community. WBAL-TV has video coverage of the transition. Margie Hyslop at The Gazette talks to the city delegation about how Mayor Sheila Dixon’s resignation might play out in the General Assembly.

Michael Enright, a longtime confidant of Gov. Martin O’Malley who served as his chief of staff and recently became a senior advisor, is leaving the administration to join an investment firm, Alan Brody reports in The Gazette.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett proposed a $70 million cut to the current county budget, Alan Suderman reports in the Washington Examiner. This includes a $22 million cut in the county schools’ budget, as well as trimming 70 jobs, reducing bus service and other county services. Michael Laris of The Washington Post has more.

Gov. Martin O’Malley gave his annual speech to the Maryland Association of Counties yesterday in Cambridge. In it, he focused on public safety, harking on the death of a 11-year-old Salisbury girl who was abducted and murdered, according to Brian Witte with the Associated Press. Julie Bykowicz writes The Sun’s story.

The Sun’s Jay Hancock weighs in on the federal health care package in his column, suggesting that the solution to controlling the rising costs of health care may lie in Maryland’s use of a commission to set prices for Medicare.

Alan Brody and Erin Cunningham at The Gazette have a roundup of Maryland campaign news from the past week. Bob Ehrlich is closer to a decision about whether to run for governor again, while George Owings III is ready to challenge O’Malley in the Democratic Primary. Andy Harris is taking another run at Congress, while House Minority Whip Chris Shank is taking on Sen. Don Munson in Western Maryland.

Blair Lee examines the differences between the “pro-labor, pro-abortion, anti-gun, anti-death penalty, tax-and-spend, liberal” O’Malley and the “pro-business, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, pro-death penalty, anti-tax” Owings in his Gazette column.

Michael Hough, candidate to replace former Del. Rick Weldon, urged Republicans of Frederick and Washington counties to reconvene and choose one delegate, taking the decision out of the hands of Gov. O’Malley, The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail reports. Washington County’s GOP recommended Charles Jenkins, a Frederick County commissioner, while Frederick County chose Hough, a former legislative aide under Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington. The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog has more, as does the Frederick News Post. The Red Maryland blog calls the indecision a “failure of leadership.”

Weldon says he’ll stay on for the start of the General Assembly session if a replacement is not in place by next Wednesday, Sherry Greenfield writes in the Gazette.

The state is using a new federal program to offer $92 million in low-interest financing for affordable housing this year, Jamie Smith Hopkins reports in The Sun. The money would allow developers to build or renovate 1,000 rental units for low-income residents.

Baltimore City will narrow its reverse-redlining suit against Wells Fargo Bank after it was dismissed by a federal judge, Brendan Kearney writes in The Daily Record. The city claims the bank targeted black neighborhoods for adverse home loans, eventually costing the city millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Sean Sedam and Alan Brody have a peice outlining what to expect during the General Assembly session, as lawmakers look to close a $2 billion budget gap while they run for office.

Business advocates are bracing for a tough legislative session, reports Kevin James Shea of The Gazette. He writes that groups are preparing to opppose most tax increases, but will push for a hike in the gasoline tax.

A meeting of the District 1 legislative delegation turned ugly Thursday, as the delegates traded blows over proposed legislation that would put the question of the creation of an Allegany County Bureau of Police to voter referendum, Kevin Spradlin reports in the Cumberland Times-News.

Gov. O’Malley has taken something of a warning shot at former governor Bob Ehrlich in preparation for a possible election challenge by the Republican, The Washington Post’s Maryland Politics blog reports. In a fundraising letter, O’Malley attempts to tie him to the “birther” movement, which refers to people who doubt President Obama’s citizenship and the authenticity of his birth certificate.

Maryland watermen issued their concerns about the state’s proposed Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan at a town hall meeting with Del. Page Elmore, R-Somerset, Liz Holland reports in The (Salisbury) Daily Times. They fear the new plan will hurt their ability to make a living.

The battle to attract Northrop Grumman has begun, as localities scramble to figure out what kind of space they can offer the defense contractor, Sarah Krouse writes in the Washington Business Journal. Virginia’s “hefty” incentive packages make it a shoo-in, but the story still leaves open the possibility of the contractor settling elsewhere. State and Montgomery County officials say Maryland will make a “compelling case” as it tries to woo the company to move its headquarters here, Steve Monroe writes in The Gazette.

C. Benjamin Ford of The Gazette write that the state’s ban on texting while driving has been effective, despite initial concerns.

Republican National Committee Chairman (and former Maryland Lt. Governor) Michael Steele lashed out at critics yesterday, telling them to “get a life,” The Washington Post’s Maryland Politics blog reports. Maryland Politics Watch has video.

Marylanders and others in the region are driving to Delaware for their football betting, as opposed to a flight to Las Vegas, The Sun reports. Sports betting has been a boon for the state’s economy, and the system launched in September has already netted the state more than $1.3 million.

The Gazettte’s Reporter’s Notebook has scenes from the pre-session fundraising dash, as lawmakers gird for a ban on contributions until the General Assembly adjourns. Bryan Sears writes in his Strange Bedfellows blog for Patuxent that some lawmakers are expecting light contributions this year due to the economy.

Gerald Neily at Baltimore Brew writes that the jobs creation report on Baltimore’s proposed Red Line rail project doesn’t show why spending on the project would be better then other public spending in the region.

This year, Marylanders will vote by referendum on whether the state will have convene its constitutional convention, J.H. Snider writes in The Sun. Since 1900, the question has been on the ballot six times, but voters only elected to convene once.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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