State Roundup March 26, 2010

Today we have stories on the passage of two measures high on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s list of priorities, information on the budget is swirling around, and Sheila Dixon may have a new job.

JOBS CREDIT: Businesses are now eligible for a $5,000 tax credit for hiring unemployed Marylanders, Nick Sohr reports for The Daily Record. The General Assembly approved the bill Thursday morning, and Gov. Martin O’Malley signed it only hours later. Scott Dance writes in the Baltimore Business Journal that O’Malley also signed the unemployment insurance reform bill, another of his legislative priorities, into law. Joel McCord has an audio report for WYPR.

BUDGET: Aaron C. Davis of the Washington Post has a story on the Senate-approved version of the budget, which includes beginning to shift the cost of teacher pensions to the counties. But the head of the Montgomery County Delegation in the House says he doesn’t believe delegates will support the plan, according to Marcus Moore at The Gazette.

Blair Lee writes a Gazette column that compares the Maryland Senate to a group of high school gangs, and says Montgomery County was bullied into accepting the teacher pension shift. Doug Tallman at The Gazette writes that the Senate’s budget plan was influenced by proposed Republican spending alternatives.

CAR INSURANCE: Alan Brody with The Gazette writes that a hike in minimum car insurance rates is working its way through the General Assembly.

ACADEMIC AID: A popular scholarship program designed to keep Maryland’s top high school students in state for college has survived Gov. Martin O’Malley’s attempt to suspend the program next year, Nick DiMarco writes for

CAMPAIGNS: Maryland Democrats are playing defense in 10 districts that may become GOP targets this fall, running a mail campaign to draw input from constituents.

FORECLOSURES: The House of Delegates tentatively passed a bill Thursday that opponents said would hurt the already embattled housing market, Nick DiMarco reports for

DIXON: Former Mayor Sheila Dixon is close to being hired by the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, Robbie Whelan and Julie Scharper report for The Baltimore Sun. She has been helping the organization, which lobbies on behalf of minority contractors, with marketing, and is hashing out a permanent role.

COMPROMISES: Sean Sedam with The Gazette looks at the legislative compromises reached on such issues as false Medicaid claims and stormwater management plans.

HEALTH CARE: Tiffany March of Capital News Services examines how area small businesses are trying to make sense of the President Obama’s health care package and how it affects them. C. Benjamin Ford has more business reaction at The Gazette.

Maryland’s medical system may not be equipped to handle an influx of 600,000 additional patients that will be insured under the federal health overhaul, Barry Rascovar writes in The Gazette.

LOBBYISTS: Lobbyists are feeling the effect of a tense atmosphere around Annapolis due to the fact that the economy is weak and there’s an election coming up. Alan Brody has the story for The Gazette.

PEPCO: A delegate is accusing Pepco of “despicable lobbying tactics” and hints of racism, Sean Sedam writes for The Gazette, describing the utility’s efforts to kill a bill targeting light pollution.

VAN HOLLEN: Two Republicans have filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat. C. Benjamin Ford has the story for The Gazette.

EHRLICH: Doug Tallman in The Gazette examines this week’s report that former Gov. Bob Ehrlich will announce a rematch with Gov. Martin O’Malley on April 7. Nobody will confirm it. Ehlich responded to the rumor on a Facebook post, but didn’t say whether it was true. John Wagner writes the story in the Post blog.

GAY MARRIAGE: Hayley Peterson has the latest in this year’s same-sex marriage saga for the Washington Examiner, as House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell is pushing a bill that would prohibit state agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages from outside the state. The House Judiciary Committee has already killed similar legislation put forward by Del. Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: David Collins has a video report for WBAL-TV on the nearly 40 constitutional amendments under consideration for November’s ballot.

TREE TRIMMING: Advocates are calling for more oversight of utilities’ tree trimming practices, Margie Hyslop writes for The Gazette. The call comes in light of recent outages caused by falling limbs.

BUS PASS: Sen. David Brinkley is pushing for a bill that would catch drivers speeding past stopped school buses, Meg Tully writes for the Frederick News Post. The proposal would allow schools to install cameras on buses and catch drivers passing them while the bus’ stop signs are displayed.

HORSES: A bill introduced by Del. Christopher Shank would decrease the financial burden on local humane societies when dealing with cases of animal neglect, Erin Julius reports for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

WORKERS COMP: An editorial in The Sun says a measure in the General Assembly that would make most cancers be presumed to be the result of on-the-job environmental exposure goes too far.

CHILD SUPPORT: Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Jeff Waldstreicher write an op-ed in The Gazette outlining what has changed since the last update to child support guidelines in 1988.

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