State Roundup, February 2, 2010

STATE OF THE STATE: Gov. O’Malley will deliver the state of the state address today. Linda So with ABC2 News reports he will focus on the economy and jobs. How the governor wants to bring in more jobs is drawing criticism, reports David Collins with WBALTV.WJZ’s Andrea Fujii reports on what the governor hopes to accomplish this year. Sean Sedam has a preview in the Gazette. Red Maryland editor Brian Griffiths issued a video “prebuttal” to Gov. O’Malley’s state of the state speech.

SPENDING: Don Fry, head of the Greater Baltimore Committee and all-around go-to guy in the business community, wrote an intriguing essay for his members in which he tries to answer the question: “What’s the ultimate cause of the Maryland government’s deficit? Is it the recession or is it that Maryland’s spending habits are out of kilter? …. State data suggest that the answer lies somewhere in between.”

HOGAN: The leading Republican with clear pans to challenge Gov. O’Malley has dropped out of the race, Julie Bykowicz writes in The Sun. John Wagner with The Washington Post reports Lawrence Hogan, Jr. says he is convinced former Gov. Bob Ehrlich will run. Here’s The Associated Press’ take on the bow-out from the former Ehrlich cabinet member and Doug Tallman’s report in the Gazette.

TABLE GAMES: Gov. O’Malley opposes expanding Maryland slots law to include table games or more slots parlor locations, reports Scott Dance with Baltimore Business Journal. However, state lawmakers are working on legislation to add table games to the state’s slots sites, writes Hayley Peterson in The Washington Examiner.

SEX OFFENDER BOARD: Gov. O’Malley announced this appointments to the sex offender advisory board. Julie Bykowicz with The Baltimore Sun reports the committee has lain dormant since its establishment in 2006.

EDUCATION LEGISLATION: The state turned down a chance to receive federal education funds because state laws are unfriendly to trends in school reform. Some Republicans are gathering support for legislative changes, reports Leah Fabel with The Washington Examiner, and some of the changes are backed by State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick,

CRIME DATA: Maryland may share sensitive crime data as part of the next phase in intelligence-sharing between capital area law enforcement agencies, writes Aaron Davis in The Washington Post.

BUDGET: Bryan Sears with Patuxent Publishing writes that the state isn’t the only one with budget woes, as Baltimore County faces a $138 million shortfall.

BUSINESS: Gov. O’Malley wants to help businesses with their skyrocketing unemployment insurance taxes. But The Sun’s Bykowicz reports businesses don’t seem to want the help.

DIVORCE LAWS: Lawmakers are pushing for relaxed divorce laws that would allow couples to live under the same roof during the year before the state will recognize their separation.

WIRETAP LAW: Eastern Shore Republican Del. Richard Sossi is proposing a bill to change the state’s wiretap law, The Associated Press reports.

TRANSPARENCY: Baltimore City made it easier to access how much the city’s agencies are spending each month with the launch of a new website, reports Danielle Ulman with The Daily Record.

TUITION: State officials say a tuition increase is unlikely, even if the University System of Maryland’s is cut midyear, reports the Capital News Service.

RAIL STIMULUS: The ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. John Mica of Florida, called Maryland’s $70 million stimulus share for high-speed rail improvements “an insult.” Other states received amounts in the billions, reports Capital News Service.

BALTIMORE MAYOR: Baltimore City Council members praised outgoing Mayor Shelia Dixon at her final lunch with the council, writes The Sun’s Julie Scharper.  On Thursday, City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will take over as mayor. Last night was the council’s final meeting with Rawlings-Blake as president, reports WBAL-TV.

MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT: We missed stories from the weekend about the state school board fining Montgomery County $23 million for failing to fully fund public schools in the Post and the Sentinel.

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