State Roundup March 2, 2010

Today, there’s lots of coverage of the delicate deal on unemployment insurance reform. Gov. O’Malley fires back at former Gov. Ehrlich over an Iraq trip, and the state is considering new penalties for first-time drunk drivers.

DRUNK DRIVERS: People charged with driving under the influence may be facing harsher first-time penalties, according to Washington Post staff writer Ashley Halsey III

UNEMPLOYMENT REFORM: As of yesterday afternoon two key business groups are backing legislation that would expand unemployment writes Nicholas Sohr of the Daily Record.’s own Andy Rosen is calling it a “delicate agreement.” Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal and Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner also weigh in on the “compromise.” Here’s Julie Bykowicz’s take on the unemployment deal for The Baltimore Sun. The paper’s editorial page says the deal is a good one for business, and shows that government compromise is still possible.

O’MALLEY/BROWN ON EHRLICH:Gov. Martin O’Malley responded to potential challenger and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s criticism of his federally-funded trip to Iraq, John Wagner writes for The Post. “I can’t be bothered by that sort of negativity,” O’Malley tells him. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown shot back as well in The Sun. He says Ehrlich’s comments show that he doesn’t understand the relationship between the National Guard and the governor. You can also listen to Brown’s sentiments from Scott Wykoff’s story from

ELECTION: WJZ’s Vic Carter talks with former Gov. Robert Ehrlich about a possible rematch with O’Malley

BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS: The Board of Public Works, which approves billions in state contracts each year, has begun posting audio of its long hearings online, but live Webcasts of its proceedings as proposed in a House bill may be a long-time coming because of a high price tag. Len Lazarick has the story for

GOOGLE: Maryland Politics Watch points out that Google has classified Frederick Republican Sen. Alex Mooney’s campaign site as an “attack site.”

AUDIT: The former dean of the University of Maryland School of Law has offered to repay $60,000 in compensation that was flagged by auditors last week, Childs Walker writes for The Sun.

TAX REFUND: A bill before lawmakers would place more disclosure requirements and some restrictions on high-priced tax refund anticipation loans, Eileen Ambrose writes for The Sun.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Advocates are hoping recent news of Catholic school closings will strengthen their case as they push for a business tax credit that would support private schools as well as public ones. Arthur Hirsch has the story for The Sun.

ALCOHOL: Legislative leaders have repeatedly pledged to pass no new taxes this election year, but a new poll says half of Maryland voters think they should make an exception for a 10-cent per drink tax on alcohol, Len Lazarick writes for

CARDIN: Maryland Republicans went after U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin Monday after Washington Magazine ranked him as one of the most liberal members of the Senate, Paul West writes for The Sun. Rep. John Sarbanes is the most liberal member of the state’s House delegation.

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