State Roundup 2-12-2010

Today we have snow cleanup and reflection, the investigation of an influential state senator, and another Marylander gets appointed to the Obama administration.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Two numbers illustrate why changing unemployment insurance is such an important part of the legislative agenda for business, labor and Gov. Martin O’Malley this session, Andy Rosen writes for

SNOW’S OVER: Maryland is slowly digging its way back to normal, Michael Dresser and Tim Wheeler report for The Baltimore Sun. Many secondary roads are still covered in snow, and may stay that way for another day or two, but major highways are clear to the pavement. WBAL-TV has video of yesterday’s cleanup efforts.

Erin Cunningham at The Gazette writes that the response to a snowstorm can make or break a politician’s career. Robbie Whelan at The Daily Record writes that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake should take a lesson from Chicago.

Jay Hancock writes in his column for The Sun that Marylanders may be expecting too much on snow cleanup for a state that almost never gets hit as hard as we have this week.

State schools superintendent Nancy Grasmick plans to ask the state school board to waive the law requiring students attend classes for 180 days because of the recent snow fall, Liz Bowie reports in The Sun. But some are wary that missing too much school will negatively impact students’ performance on tests. Marcus Moore has the story at The Gazette.

Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal examines the effect of the past week’s snow on area businesses. The combination of the weather and the recession is really hurting them business, owners say.

In the midst of the snowstorm, one delegate proposed a measure that would cut back on the use of salt during cleanup, Sean Sedam writes at The Gazette.

Alan Brody and Sean Sedam at The Gazette describe the scene at a largely deserted State House.

CURRIE: Annie Linskey of The Sun examines state Sen. Ulysses Currie’s use of $41,500 in campaign contributions for legal defense fees over the past year. Currie has been under federal investigation since May 2008, and has been accused of using his influence public officials favorably for the Shoppers Food and Pharmacy chain that employed him as a consultant.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Public institutions of higher education had some tight budgets in 2008-2009 and only the $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money kept him afloat, Daniel de Vise reports in The Washington Post. According to a report, Maryland fared better than most states, as state and local funding of higher education rose 4 percent to $8,100 per student.

SECURITY TRAINING: Doug Tallman at The Gazette has the latest on the controversy over a proposed federal security training center in Queen Anne’s County.

DUNCAN: Observers are split about whether former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan would be a good candidate to head the Washington Metro system, C. Benjamin Ford writes in The Gazette.

OBAMA APPOINTMENTS: Eric Schwaab, deputy secretary at the state Department of Natural Resources, has been appointed by the Obama administration to be assistant administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, John Wagner writes in The Post’s Maryland Politics blog. Schwaab will also head the National Marine Fisheries Service. Tim Wheeler has more about Schwaab’s work at DNR for The Sun.

ONLINE SUPPORT: Del. Heather Mizeur has launched an online petition in support of her Open Government Act, Adam Pagnucco reports for Maryland Politics Watch.

BIKE SPACE: The state Senate approved a measure requiring drivers to give bicycles, scooters and other personal transportation devices at least three feet of space if possible, Julie Bykowicz reports in The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog.

TAX POLICY: The Super Bowl gave Republicans a chance to goad O’Malley over tax policy, Alan Brody writes in The Gazette.

BROADBAND: Urban and rural advocates are fighting for a slice of a $7.2 billion federal broadband program, Alan Brody writes at The Gazette.

STATE SALARIES: Barry Rascovar writes in his Gazette column that it would take real courage for lawmakers to freeze all state salaries, rather than just their own.

EXECUTIVE AUDIT: The Executive Department, which includes the Governor’s Office, couldn’t account for more that $18,000 in new computer equipment, Natalie Neumann of reports.

FORECLOSURES DOWN: Foreclosures in Maryland fell 23 percent in January from December, Tucker Echols reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. But the number is still up 41 percent from a year ago.

REFERENDUM REPORT CARD: A national voters-rights organization has given Maryland a D on its report card regarding the referendum process, The (Annapolis) Capital reports. The group found state laws on signature collection too “restrictive.”

HARRIS: Two-time candidate for governor Ellen Sauerbrey will chair the congressional campaign of Republican state Sen. Andy Harris in the 1st District, the Associated Press reports.

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