WHAT’S ON TAP IN ANNAPOLIS: As the General Assembly gets ready to convene on Wednesday, the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz and Annie Linskey offer a synopsis of what to expect in the following 90 days including talk of raising taxes and legislation including an immigration crackdown, offers of in-state tuition for students without papers, legalizing gay marriage and tweaking the state’s gambling program.
Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Capital writes that with the state’s budget still choking on the dust left from the demolition of the global economy, fiscal issues will be the dominant story as the General Assembly is sworn in Wednesday.
Seven of the eight Washington County delegation members and soon-to-be members named the state budget as their top concern, Andrew Schotz writes for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
State Senator-elect Joe Getty of Manchester said that if he had one word to predict the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly, it would be ”ugly,” Vanessa Junkin reports for the Carroll Eagle.
With many challenges ahead, opinionators for the Salisbury Daily Times say they hope Maryland lawmakers focus on legislation beneficial to both Shore residents and the whole state.
Federal stimulus dollars, used nationwide to fill massive gaps in state budgets for the last two years, have all but run out, leaving Maryland legislators combing for savings to meet their only constitutional mandate — passing a balanced budget, Jeff Newman reports for SoMdNews.com.
The Sun editorial board also offers a photo gallery outlining what it thinks will be the major issues in Annapolis and how the governor and lawmakers should respond.
LOCAL PAIN: Mayors and county executives got a reality check at MACo with Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch warning that it will likely be impossible to balance the state’s $13 billion operating budget without squeezing local aid, Julie Bykowicz writes for the Sun.
DON’T REVISIT ABORTION: It’s appropriate for the General Assembly to revisit rules governing abortion-providing doctors. However, writes Peter Jensen in his Second Opinion column for the Sun, it would be completely inappropriate to use the issue to revisit abortion, which Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved 20 years ago.
ALCOHOL TAX ETC: Wine, how much consumers pay for it, and how they get it will be among the issues the Maryland General Assembly will consider when the 2011 session opens on Wednesday, Robert Lang reports for WBAL-AM. Click on the video window to hear Lang’s interview with one wine store owner.
You can also listen to an interview with Senate Prez Mike Miller on alcohol taxes here. And you can listen to Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman on the subject here.
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Despite a tough budget year ahead, Gov. Martin O’Malley remains committed to spending at least another $250 million on public school construction, the Post’s John Wagner reports.
EDUCATION STANDARDS: Maryland school officials have agreed to national academic standards and have begun to lay the groundwork for new tests and teacher training. But, writes Nick Anderson of the Post, it will take at least a few years before such measures generate notable change in the classroom.
BE VIGILANT: In an email to all Maryland state employees Friday, O’Malley asks that they continue to report suspicious activity following the ignition of two small incendiary devices sent to state buildings the day before, blogs the Post’s John Wagner.
BAY PLAN FIGHT: According to an Associated Press report in the Sun, a sweeping plan to control water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay must be challenged because it will ruin regional agriculture and become the model for similar restrictions nationally, the head of the nation’s largest farm lobbying group said.
ROSECROFT SLOTS: Maryland Senate President Mike Miller says Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos has his full support in getting slot machines approved at Rosecroft by the end of 2012, Alex Pappas of the Washington Examiner reports.
But, writes the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital, the state should see how the Arundel Mills casino is going to do before it starts approving competitors for it.
TAX REFORM LOST OPPORTUNITY: While there was much anticipation over the outcome of the work of the Maryland Business Tax Reform Commission, readers of the recently released report cannot help but feel a sense of lost opportunity, Bob Burdon of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce writes in the Annapolis Capital. Read the full report here.
SHOOTING REACTION: Matthew Hay Brown of the Sun runs with the reaction from Maryland Congressional delegation to the wounding of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others during a shooting spree that killed six, including a 9-year-old girl, in Arizona. You can hear U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer on WBAL-Radio speaking about the incident.
In the aftermath of the shootings, members of Congress will be given suggestions on better security, WTOP and the AP report.
Western Maryland politicians reflect on the assassination attempt and one recalls his experience as a U.S. House page when Puerto Rican nationals opened fire, writes Julie Green of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
Mark Newgent of Red Maryland goes after Sun columnist Dan Rodricks after he tweeted his reaction to gun violence following the shootings.
TROOPER SUITS: The state has paid out roughly $500,000 in settlements for lawsuits brought against state troopers since 2006, including the most recent payment of $32,000 to a woman whose two front teeth were knocked out during a DWI arrest, Hayley Peterson writes for the Washington Examiner.
LAUGHING AT YOURSELF: MarylandReporter.com’s new Annapolitics blog shows that Speaker of the House Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller know how to ease into sharing bad news with people: by laughing at themselves.
BLAIR LEE LINKS: Last week, the link was broken. Let’s hope they work today. Here’s Blair Lee’s column in the Gazette, in which he outlines the highlights and lowlights of 2010.
BUSY BOARD PREZ: The new president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners spends his days juggling several responsibilities — as co-owner of Yellow Cab, as radio personality on his politically charged afternoon WFMD-FM show and as president of the commissioners, a job that makes him the face of Frederick County. Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette reports on Blaine Young.
2 DELEGATES 2 VIEWS: Incoming state Dels. Mark Fisher and C.T. Wilson share the distinction of being the Southern Maryland Delegation’s newest members. But their imminent legislative tenure is about the only thing they have in common, Jeff Newman of SoMdNews.com reports.
GETTY ON ANNAPOLIS: Joseph Getty, elected in November to succeed Larry Haines as the state senator for a district encompassing parts of Carroll and Baltimore counties, sat down with Ryan Marshall of the Carroll County Times to talk about his role in Annapolis.
READY READIES: Del. Justin Ready will join Del. Nancy Stocksdale to represent House of Delegates District 5A this year. Christian Alexandersen interviews the 28-year-old first time delegate for the Carroll County Times.
CARROLL ROAD PLANS: Widening a portion of Md. 32 to four lanes is one of the top transportation projects the Carroll County Board of Commissioners is considering to be included in the county’s long-range transportation plan, Christian Alexandersen writes for the Carroll County Times. Baltimore and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties must submit their proposed transportation projects to the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board by Jan. 31.
CRAB RESTRICTIONS: Watermen met with Del.-elect Charles Otto of Somerset to discuss relaxing state crab catch restrictions for 2011, putting the state in line with size limits in Virginia, Greg Latshaw reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.
PG ETHICS BILLS: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is asking the General Assembly to approve two ethics measures to limit the ability of local lawmakers to seek campaign contributions from developers as the county seeks to shed its soiled reputation, Miranda Spivack reports for the Post.
Baker, also named three new members to his integrity advisory panel, which will hold its first public meeting Wednesday, writes Spivack
HYBRID SCHOOL BOARD: State Sen. Bobby Zirkin is pushing a measure that would create a hybrid Baltimore County School Board made up of both appointed and elected members. The measure narrowly failed in the General Assembly’s last session, Raven Hill of the Sun reports.
KAMENETZ ON MACo: Baltimore County Exec Kevin Kamenetz has been elected to the 16-member board of the Maryland Association of Counties. MACo President Ken Ulman, who is also Howard County executive, said “Kamenetz’s legislative and budgetary expertise will be invaluable as we move forward,” blogs Bryan Sears for Patch.com.
SHORE POLITICS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM sat down with several new Eastern Shore politicians to discuss their area’s interests.
ANNAPOLIS POLITICS: A new commission to study and recommend changes to Annapolis city government has the potential to revolutionize Annapolis politics, reports Joshua Stewart of the Capital. But there is a catch.
SCHOOLS RANK: Kiplinger’s Magazine has ranked five Maryland colleges in its Top 100 schools for getting the most bang for your buck, Mike Shuh of WJZ-TV reports. The University of Maryland ranks fifth, St. Mary’s College is 40, Salisbury is 60, Towson is 78 and UMBC is 91. The magazine looked into 1,600 colleges nationwide.
ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: While 2011 is barely underway, there remains cautious optimism that this year will see less unemployment, more freedom in the credit markets and greater spending by consumers in Maryland and the country as a whole, the Daily Record’s Ben Mook reports.
Baltimore Business Journal reporters Gary Haber and Scott Dance write that economist Anirban Basu is predicting a gain of 40,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent by a year from now. Both the Daily Record and the BBJ attended the Maryland Bankers Association fourth annual “First Friday” economic outlook forum.
NEW LOOK: MarylandReporter.com relaunched its site this weekend. Take a look!