State Roundup May 10, 2010

Maryland meets its minority contract goals, and Maryland violent crime is at a 30-year low. How will this play out in November? Plus Baltimore Gas & Electric wants to raise distribution rates for the first time in 17 years.

MINORITY CONTRACTING: Maryland is on pace to meet its goal to send 25 percent of state contracting money to women and minority-owned business this year, Julie Bykowicz reports for The Baltimore Sun. This would be the first time the state reached its benchmark.

RACE TO THE TOP: The state teacher’s union has “serious concerns” about the plan Maryland submitted to the federal government in hopes of pulling down up to $250 million in federal stimulus aid for education, according to Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post.

BIG SPENDERS: Gov. Marvin Mandel is remembered fondly, perhaps in part because of the budget largess during his term. According to Len Lazarick’s analysis, Mandel presided over the largest inflation-adjusted spending growth in the past 40 years. Gov. Martin O’Malley’s term has seen the smallest hikes.

POLL: A new Washington Post poll shows O’Malley leading Ehrlich by eight points, but the two men are in a dead heat among voters who say they’re certain to vote in November.

HORSE TRACKS: The new buyer of Maryland horse tracks Pimlico and Laurel Park is bringing in Penn National, a major national gaming company, to co-own the facilities. Lorraine Mirabella has the story for The Sun. Penn National already has the development rights for slots in Cecil County. The Sun’s editorial page says the company may not be a good partner for Maryland racing, because it may be too focused on slots.

CRIME: Aaron Davis at the Post reports that Gov. O’Malley will announce that Maryland recorded the fewest number of violent crimes in 30 years, and he analyzes the impact this might have on the campaign.

JOBS CREDIT: Since the signing of the Gov. Martin O’Malley’s law rewarding companies for hiring people off the unemployment rolls six weeks ago, companies have hired 64 new employees using the new tax credit. Erich Wagner has the story for

PRE-KINDERGARTEN: The Sun’s editorial page points out a top ranking for Maryland on public early childhood education, but says the state should concentrate on making services available to more pre-kindergarten students.

BGE RATES: Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. wants to raise the rates it charges to deliver power and gas to homes and businesses, according to The Sun. It would be the first hike in 17 years and would raise residential costs by about $22 for power and about $48 for gas. Danielle Ulman with The Daily Record writes that the utility doesn’t think it will be long until there’s another hike.

PODCAST: Gov. Martin O’Malley signed more than 300 bills into law last week. Editors Len Lazarick and Andy Rosen join Liam Farrell of The (Annapolis) Capital to talk about sex offender laws, gangs and traffic court.

OIL SPILL: A decade after the worst oil spill in Maryland history, the Patuxent River tributary that saw 140,000 gallons spilled into it still shows signs of the damage. Meredith Cohn of The Sun checks in in the wake of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

O’MALLEY AD: Gov. Martin O’Malley has filed the first advertising volley of the 2010 election campaign this year, running a piece that criticizes likely opponent Bob Ehrlich for living in a “fantasy land” over some of his budget claims. The Sun’s Maryland Politics blog has the story. O’Malley ran the ad during an airing of Ehrlich’s radio show on Saturday, according to The Associated Press. Ehrlich mentioned it after it ran, pointing out that Democrats have criticized Ehrlich show sponsors as effectively subsidizing a campaign program.

METRO: The Post’s editorial page says Maryland’s threat to withhold funding for the Washington Metro system reflects broader preferential treatment for the Baltimore region.

KRATOVIL MAILER: Congressman Frank Kratovil, a Democrat facing a tough re-election fight, spent more than $320,000 in taxpayer cash on mailings to constituents. All members of Congress are allowed to do this, according to The (Salisbury) Daily Times, though Kratovil was the 15th highest spender.

FARM LAWS: Ike Wilson at the Frederick News-Post takes a look at some new agricultural laws signed by O’Malley. They define the terms “locally grown” and “local,” make it easier to sell at farmers markets, and reform winery laws.

TEACHERS: Don Fry is “skeptical” about the effectiveness of a new law strengthening bargaining rights for teachers, he writes in a column for Center Maryland. Liz Bowie writes for The Sun that since most school systems in the state aren’t laying off teachers, educators from around the country are flooding Maryland with job applications.

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