State Roundup, January 15, 2010

The big story in Annapolis yesterday was Senate President Mike Miller’s declaration that he’ll push for slot machines in Prince George’s County.  He says machines could be installed at Rosecroft race track, at the National Harbor Development outside of Washington, D.C, or in Upper Marlboro.

John Wagner with The Washington Post writes that the idea didn’t generate any immediate support, and Julie Bykowicz in The Baltimore Sun reports that many, including the Prince George’s County Executive and Gov. Martin O’Malley, had not discussed the idea with Miller. The Washington Examiner has more reaction from local lawmakers.

Gov. O’Malley’s budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which will be introduced to the General Assembly next week, will contain “significant layoffs,” an unnamed source tells Doug Tallman and Alan Brody of The Gazette of Politics and Business. The governor’s staff disagrees with the assessment.
The Baltimore Business Journal reports that this year’s legislative session will be different, given the strong focus on economic growth.

The BBJ has several session preview stories. One is about the fate of several tax credits and business incentives.  Another focuses on help for business lending.  A bill that would mandate employee shift breaks is raising eyebrows at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Gary Haber writes. Julekha Dash has a piece about state aid to private colleges. Lawmakers are pushing for the extension of a set-aside for small businesses, Ryan Sharrow reports.

And Kevin James Shay at The Gazette has a roundup of some of the business-related bills filed in the first week of the General Assembly’s session. Among them: an extension of the research and development tax credit, and a bill that would prevent slots from within 1,000 feet of a shopping center, church, playground or school, effectively shutting down Cordish Cos.’ Arundel Mills plan.

O’Malley has raised $5.7 million for his campaign this year, Annie Linskey writes on The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog. According to the Post, the incumbent’s campaign is calling the money a significant advantage.

Elsewhere on the campaign front, House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell met with U.S. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia this week, suggesting he may run against U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in 2010, Alan Brody writes in The Gazette. But Nick Sohr writes in his “Eye on Annapolis” blog for The Daily Record that House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell isn’t challenging Steny Hoyer for a congressional seat.

Meanwhile, Senate President Mike Miller is looking to Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and Del. Jim Mathias, both Democrats, to fill Senate seats that will be vacated by Republicans after this year.

The Financial Times reports that O’Malley is open to the idea of selling or offering for public investiment Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Hat Tip to Michael Dresser at The Sun for the link.

Dresser reports that the Obama Administration has changed the criteria for how transit projects are paid for, and that could help Baltimore’s Red Line rail proposal.

Although they’ve already done some of their own belt-tightening, County leaders fear losing any more state funding, personally appealing to their delegations and Gov. O’Malley at the opening of the legislative session to maintain their financial support, Erin Cunningham reports in The Gazette.

John Catoe, who headed the Washington Metro system, is stepping down among “unrelenting criticism,” the Post reports. Here’s the Washington Examiner’s take. The Gazette reports that he retires after just two years in the position, leaving the transit system with a $40 million budget deficit this year alone.

The federal government should use repaid bank bailout money to help pay for small business loans, O’Malley says in an Associated Press article.

Tens of thousands of Maryland debtors are having actions against them tossed out of court, after a Rockville collection law firm collapsed, Caryn Tamber reports in The Daily Record. The Sun has a piece as well.

Maryland’s foreclosure rate in December was up 6.3 percent from the previous month, not to mention up 52.5 percent from a year ago, The Gazette reports.

Republican Sen. Alex Mooney is upset at the GOP committees in Frederick and Washington counties for their inability to decide on a single nomination for former Del. Rick Weldon, Doug Tallman and Sherry Greenfield report for The Gazette. This gave O’Malley the decision, instead of the GOP, although it is worth noting that Mooney’s former legislative aide was the one not picked.

Charles Jenkins’ appointment to the House of Delegates leaves another power vacuum, this time on Frederick Board of County Commissioners, Erica Green and Sherry Greenfield report for The Gazette. Four people have already announced plans to apply for the position, and the Frederick County GOP again must nominate a person for Gov. O’Malley’s approval.

Prince George’s County officials are accusing the state of giving Montgomery County preferential treatment in its handling of environmental projects associated with the Intercounty Connector that bridges the two jurisdictions. Katherine Shaver has the story in the Post. The Gazette has more.

Barry Rascovar’s column in The Gazette draws a comparison between Gov. O’Malley and former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, through their budget difficulties among other qualities.

Hanger Orthopedic Group’s decision to move their headquarters from Bethesda to Texas has put more pressure on Montgomery County officials to woo Northrop Grumman, Steve Monroe writes in The Gazette. Monroe also has an analysis piece, which suggests that tax breaks are often not the factor that decides where a company will relocate, and sometimes it comes down to something minor, like where the decision-makers want to live.

In The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook this week, new Sen. Ed Reilly, who succeeded Janet Greenip, made a bold first impression in his first roll call vote, choosing to not vote for (or against) Mike Miller as Senate President.

Area residents are still skeptical about the plans for a casino at Arundel Mills mall, Ryan Justin Fox and Erin Cox report in The (Annapolis) Capital.

It’s official, Dustin Holt reports in The (Salisbury) Daily Times for The (Easton) Star Democrat. State watermen have split into two advocacy organizations.

Del. Sue Hecht, a Frederick Democrat, will be a deputy majority whip this year, Meg Tully reports in her blog for the Frederick News-Post.

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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