THEY’RE BACK: State officials who spoke at the swearing-in ceremonies for members of the 2011 Maryland General Assembly yesterday said obstacles facing the state — particularly fiscal — are not insurmountable, writes Steve Schuster and Lindsey McPherson of the Towson Times. “Today is a day of both history and hope,” Speaker of the House Michael Busch said.
Maryland lawmakers were greeted yesterday by environmentalists in blue T-shirts who want to spur development of offshore wind farms, state workers in green T-shirts who don’t want their pensions cut and immigrant teenagers in black T-shirts who are pushing for a change in college tuition rates, writes John Wagner and Ann Marimow of the Post.
It was a combination of first day of school, high school pep rally and college graduation. But there were many reminders of the difficult road ahead, writes Abby Rogers and Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com
Howard County felt its share of excite yesterday: It was his fifth time being sworn into office, but Columbia Del. Frank Turner was still excited as the General Assembly convened for its 2011 session, writes Lindsey McPherson for the Columbia Flier.
First-day festivities are old hat for Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, whose first swearing-in was 20 years ago, writes Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
Lawmakers enjoyed the ceremonial day, with family and friends in tow, reports John Rydell of WBFF-TV.
The Herald Mail also offers a video of the swearing in.
The Sun’s Amy Davis and Kim Hairston shot a photo gallery of opening day happenings.
BUDGET CUTS: Budget cuts “will come from all over the place,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said yesterday, refusing to disclose any specifics about his upcoming spending plan, Joanna Sullivan writes for the Baltimore Business Journal.
Sullivan also writes that Maryland’s city and counties are going to feel lots of “pain” as the state looks for ways to slash a $1.6 billion budget deficit, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller told an audience yesterday morning.
“Your physicians, your nurses, your nursing homes, your hospitals, are all going to get cut probably in the area of about a half a billion dollars, if you’re going to balance this budget,” Busch said, according to an Associated Press report in the Carroll County Times.
Post columnist Robert McCartney writes that smart politics can be a politician willing to borrow (Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell) or slash expenditures (Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.)
TAX HIKES: O’Malley had already said he wouldn’t propose tax increases this year. And yesterday, House Speaker Busch and Senate President Miller made it clear that lawmakers don’t want to, either — unless county leaders ask them to, the Sun’s Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz report.
“Insanity personified.” That’s how Senate President Miller summed up his thoughts on a proposal for a “dime-a-drink” increase in state alcohol taxes, John Wagner writes for the Post.
PENSION PRESERVATION: More than 100 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees went to Annapolis yesterday to lobby the 428th General Assembly for their No. 1 priority: preserving the health and pension benefits they have, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.
CREATING JOBS: “The focus of this session has to be on creating jobs, saving jobs, program innovation,” O’Malley said during the annual Democratic Party luncheon yesterday, writes Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Capital.
CELEBRATE FIRST: Frederick County’s new delegates and senators spent yesterday celebrating before they have to get down to work for the 90-day General Assembly annual session, Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post writes.
SURVIVAL GUIDE: The Annapolis Capital’s editorial board offers legislators safety tips for the new session, including: Consult your legislative leaders for tips on how to use the desks and chairs in your offices as makeshift fortifications, for when you’re stormed by lobbyists for every group in Maryland that depends on state funding.
IMMIGRATION: Even before the Maryland legislative session was even an hour old, Del. Pat McDonough had announced plans to introduce 16 bills cracking down on illegal immigration in the state, writes Maggie Clark for the Capital News Service. The story appears in the Towson Times.
“It’s time to go on the offense,” said McDonough, a Republican representing Harford and Baltimore counties, writes Abby Rogers for MarylandReporter.com.
BILLS WITHOUT BUCKS: Laurel’s representatives in the State House say most of the bills they plan to introduce this year will not cost any money, Linsdsey McPherson writes for the Laurel Leader.
STATE CENTER ON HOLD: Maryland officials have halted construction of the $1.5 billion redevelopment of State Center in Baltimore’s Midtown neighborhood pending resolution of a lawsuit challenging the project, the BBJ’s Daniel Sernovitz reports.
“The whole project is on hold. It could be two weeks. It could be two years,” the executive director of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. told Melody Simmons of the Daily Record.
AUTISM REPORT: The state Commission on Autism has been around the state gleaning information on the illness and is now ready to begin preparing its report, writes Shantee Woodards of the Capital.
HOUSE GOP IN B’MORE: More than 200 members of the new Republican House majority begin arriving in Baltimore today for a three-day retreat that will focus on what GOP members say are their key issues for the coming year: jobs creation and reduced government spending, Jean Marbella reports for the Sun.
WIND ENERGY: Hoping to spur development of wind energy projects off Maryland’s coast, O’Malley is planning to introduce legislation that would require power companies in the state to buy electricity from turbines placed in the Atlantic, Tim Wheeler reports for the Sun.
WHAT THEY EARN: The Gazette requested data from Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s county governments, school systems and municipalities so residents could better understand how many of their tax dollars are spent. You can explore the findings here.