State Roundup June 14, 2010

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Ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich might challenge the new federal health insurance law if re-elected; the two candidates for governor took different approaches to higher education; state pensions aren’t going up; and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith nixes Senate run.

EHRLICH: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich says he’s thinking about how to challenge the federal health overhaul if he is re-elected this year, Meg Tully writes for the Frederick News-Post. He’s concerned about the cost, but is not sure he’ll have the cooperation of his attorney general. Julie Bykowicz in The Sun writes that charter schools and the state’s struggling slots program are emerging as Ehrlich’s early campaign themes.

TUITION INTUITION: The Sun’s editorial board takes a closer look at the different approaches that Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich take toward tuition hikes in the state university system, giving O’Malley the edge on making public higher ed more affordable. But, the editorial says, Ehrlich makes a good point that more needs-based assistance is necessary, but adds he didn’t do enough during his term to make good on that argument.

ICC TOLLS: The Intercounty Connector between Montgomery and Prince George’s county will have some of the most expensive toll rates in the country when it opens this year. Miranda Spivack with The Washington Post writes that rush hour drivers will pay around 25 cents per mile. Michael Dresser of The Sun writes that the rates are on the low end of a previously-approved range.

POLL PUZZLEMENT: As Liam Farrell of The Annapolis Capital fires up his blog for the campaign season, he is puzzled by some of the results of the recent Rasmussen poll which has Ehrlich and O’Malley tied at 45 percent among likely voters, according to a blog by Annie Linskey in The Sun.

INTERNSHIPS GROW: After sharply scaling back during the recession, many companies are expanding their internship programs, Lorraine Mirabella writes in the Baltimore Sun.

FLAG FREEDOM: The Stars-and-Stripes flying this Flag Day morning may be a symbol of “liberty and justice for all.” But the women who sewed them lost their liberty a good while ago in Maryland’s justice system, writes Nick DiMarco for Maryland Reportercom.

PENSIONS FLAT: For the first time since 1971, retirees and beneficiaries collecting state pensions won’t see an increase in their checks in July, according to Jamie Smith Hopkins at the Sun.

FORECLOSURE DROP: Foreclosures in Frederick County dropped in May, but real estate professionals remain cautious about saying the market is turning around, so writes Ed Waters in the Frederick News-Post.

ELECTRIC COMPANY: An Annapolis start-up, SemaConnect Inc., produces devices that aid in charging plug-in electric vehicles and the owner, Mahi Reddy, hopes the company will become influential as electric cars flow into the mass market, Elisha Sauers writes in Annapolis Capital.

SENATOR THEATRE: Baltimore’s mayor is backing the owners of the Charles Theatre in their attempt to take over the historic Senator Theatre, where they hope to continue to show movies as well as open a restaurant and crepe shop, Nicholas Sohr of the Daily Record reports.

SMITH OUT: Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith is not running for Senate in the county’s most conservative district. Instead, he’ll concentrate on campaigning for Gov. Martin O’Malley, Julie Bykowicz writes for The Sun. Bryan Sears with Patuxent Publishing tries to nail down Smith on why he considered running, but Smith doesn’t say much.

BAY CLEANUP: Carrie Ann Knauer of the Carroll County Times writes that the recent settlement between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the federal government might finally give bay cleanup plans some bite.

GANSLER AND NAACP: Attorney General Doug Gansler heard from the Washington County NAACP, and many members complained that public schools aren’t hiring enough minority teachers. Dan Dearth has the story for The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

BUSINESS CLIMATE: Depending on whom you ask, you could get any answer to the question of how good Maryland’s business environment is. Len Lazarick and Andy Rosen join Nick Sohr of The Daily Record to talk about what it all means at

STAR SPANGLED PLATES: The state’s Motor Vehicle Administration will begin issuing license plates Monday promoting Maryland as the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, according to the Associated Press.

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