State Roundup, November 30, 2010

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RACING IMPERILED: Live horse racing at Maryland’s two main thoroughbred tracks, Laurel Park and Pimlico, was put into jeopardy after the state’s racing commission yesterday rejected a proposal to run a diminished schedule that drew opposition from the thoroughbred industry, Hanah Cho reports for the Sun. The ruling potentially jeopardizes the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Along with imperiling the industry, writes Daniel Sernovitz of the Baltimore Business Journal, the ruling throws into question the future of the 10,000 people the industry employs.

The proposed plan would have steered thoroughbred racing through the first five months of 2011 — calling for 17 days of live racing at Laurel during a winter meet, and 30 days of live racing at Pimlico in April and May around the Preakness Stakes, Nick Sohr reports for the Daily Record.

Dave Collins of WBAL-TV has a report from the Laurel Racetrack. Click here to view the 2011 Preakness logo.

STATE BENEFITS: The commission studying changes to state pensions and retiree benefits will vote in two weeks on recommending that the General Assembly and governor raise the retirement age, trim the cost of health benefits and eliminate cost-of-living increases for at least five years, writes Len Lazarick of

STEELE PROBE: A member of the Republican National Committee’s top panel will call for an investigation of RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s spending, warning that “cronyism” dried up big-donor fundraising this year and now is jeopardizing major-donor fundraising for the 2012 GOP presidential nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., Ralph Hallow reports for the Washington Times.

O’MALLEY SPENDS DOWN: Gov. Martin O’Malley poured money into polling and TV advertising in the final days of the gubernatorial campaign — emptying out much of his sizable war chest before voters headed to the polls, blogs Annie Linskey of the Sun.

DEM CHAIR: Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Turnbull, who oversaw big victories for Democrats at the top of the ticket in this month’s election, declined to say in an interview Monday whether she plans to continue serving in her post, Alan Brody reports for the Gazette.

GOP FUTURE: Former GOP candidate for governor Brian Murphy, writing in an op-ed for the Sun, explains the core principles that he believes can bring the Maryland GOP into the forefront.

GA ORIENTATION: Several dozen newly elected state legislators will get their first taste of the General Assembly during a two-day orientation that includes an overview of the legislative process and chamber procedures, presentations on major policy topics, and a budget briefing, Alan Brody of the Gazette writes.

DUTCH ON LEAKS: Maryland U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, chairman of a powerful House intelligence subcommittee, calls it an act of terrorism after online whistleblower WikiLeaks again posted thousands of secret documents on the web, Adam May of WJZ-TV reports.

ASSAULT CHARGE: In just another black eye on Prince George’s County government, Council member Marilynn Bland, who is set to be installed as clerk of the county’s Circuit Court tomorrow, is accused of assaulting and verbally abusing a council employee earlier this month, the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis blogs. Here’s DeBonis’ longer story. Read the court filing here.

MORE SCHOOL: Prince George’s County Exec-elect Rushern Baker endorsed longer school days for the county’s elementary and middle school students, who now have among the shortest instruction times in the state, reports the Post’s Miranda Spivack.

AA PENSIONS: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold is right to tackle public worker retirement benefits before the situation reaches a crisis point — and unions would be wise to come to the table, the Sun’s editorial board writes.

NOT TIED TO GOP: New campaign expense reports show no payments from the Washington County Republican Central Committee to a media company for an 11th-hour election robocall attacking Democrat Kristin Aleshire, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

FED PAY FREEZE: More than 200,000 Marylanders are likely to be hit by a two-year pay freeze for federal workers announced yesterday by President Barack Obama, reports the Sun’s Paul West.

JOBLESS BENEFITS: Many Marylanders who are on extended emergency unemployment benefits are worried that Congress will let them lapse. The extension has become increasingly controversial as Republicans — and some Democrats — argue that something must be done about the ballooning deficit, report the Sun’s Jamie Hopkins and Lorraine Mirabella.

BAY CLEANUP: Most states in the Chesapeake Bay region submitted detailed plans to the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the bay’s pollution diet as part of a more aggressive effort to nurse its sickly waters back to good health. Maryland and New York were not among them, Darryl Fears reports for the Post.

Accelerating the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay could generate thousands of jobs and yield hundreds of millions of dollars in income, revenue, property values and other benefits, says a new report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Tim Wheeler blogs for the Sun.

The Annapolis Capital’s Pamela Wood writes that the report also says that cleaning the bay could add substantially to tourism dollars.

DUI PROGRAM: The ignition interlock program – designed to keep convicted drunk drivers off the road when intoxicated – was not adequately monitored by the Division of Parole and Probation, state auditors found. Megan Poinski of writes the story. Representatives from Parole and Probation said they will correct problems so the system will be operated correctly, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.

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