State Roundup, January 17, 2011

DEATH PENALTY: Maryland lawmakers, who repeatedly debated whether to abolish the death penalty during Gov. Martin O’Malley’s first term, are wrestling with a far different proposition at the outset of his second: whether to start using it again, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

ABORTION BILLS: Maryland lawmakers will consider legislation to ban the sort of interstate abortions performed last year by a New Jersey doctor whose license has since been suspended, the Associated Press’s Ben Nuckols reports in the Annapolis Capital.

Another bill would reclassify abortion clinics as freestanding surgical facilities, subjecting them to increased regulation, WBAL-AM’s Robert Lang and the AP report.

House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell told WBAL that the abortion legislation dealing with regulations of the procedure will “make sense because they deal with women’s health.” Hear the interview here.

AN UNNORMAL START: The Maryland General Assembly isn’t quite yet back to normal, blogs Len Lazarick of A holiday, a scaled back inaugural and a painful budget have all played into odd start of the season.

BUDGET FIXES: There are easy and simple solutions that can reign in the structural deficit without raising taxes. One is cutting and capping K-12 education spending, writes Mark Newgent of Red Maryland.

INAUGURAL ADDRESS: Robert Lang of WBAL-AM says that the governor’s inaugural address will run about 10 minutes and will cover broad themes including how to create jobs in the new economy, and how Maryland has fared better than other states coming out of the recession.

You can listen to O’Malley speak on addressing the budget situation here.

SCALED CELEBRATIONS: Politicians are getting it right when it comes to celebrating their election victories — first with the Frederick County commissioners paying the freight for a reception after being sworn in and followed by Gov. O’Malley, who has scaled by his second inaugural considerably, editorialists for the Frederick News Post write.

ROCKY SLOTS: State Sen. George Edwards says that a bill aimed at finding a bidder to bring slots to Rocky Gap will be introduced as an “emergency bill,” which means that if it passes, it could go into effect immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature. Matthew Bieniek writes for the Cumberland Times News.

TABLE GAMING: State Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, a Democrat from Baltimore County, has introduced a bill to legalize table games like poker, blackjack and roulette at the state’s casinos, blogs the Sun’s Annie Linskey. The bill is expected to be cross-filed in the House of Delegates by Del. John Olszewski, writes Bryan Sears of

VETERANS SLOTS: Veterans’ organizations are taking yet another shot at passing legislation allowing them to operate slot machines to offset dire finances at veterans’ posts across the state, the Capital News Service’s David Saleh Rauf writes in the Salisbury Daily Times.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: State lawmakers are back at work in Annapolis and environmental issues will be among the issues they’ll consider. And the environment will have to compete with what some see as more pressing issues, reports the Capital’s Pamela Wood.

COMBINING AGENCIES: Candy Thomas of the Sun writes that the Schaefer administration looked at consolidating the departments of Natural Resources with Environment and Agriculture, concluding that each department has a distinct mission and that combining the agencies could lead to regulatory conflicts of interest.

WIND BILL: Legislation that O’Malley plans to introduce this week is aimed at luring investors into the state’s budding wind energy industry by locking in long-term demand and price stability for the renewable power source, writes Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner. It would require big utilities such as Pepco and Baltimore Gas & Electric to buy wind power under long-term contracts.

WIND BIDDERS: Eight companies, including one with Maryland ties, have indicated their interest in developing wind energy projects off the state’s coast, federal officials disclosed Friday, the Sun’s Timothy Wheeler writes.

HEALTH CARE: Chalk up Maryland among the states in which lawmakers are trying to overturn the individual mandate in the new federal health insurance law, reports Kevin James Shay for the Gazette.

BUS CAMERAS: State Sen. David Brinkley of Frederick will seek to strengthen a proposal to use cameras to catch people passing school buses loading and unloading children, reports Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post.

GUN PERMITS SPLIT: The Frederick County delegation is divided over the measure that would allow the local sheriff to issue permits for concealed weapons, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

HUNTING BEAT: Cumberland Times Union Outdoor editor Mike Sawyers says it he’ll be working hard to keep readers abreast of any anti-hunting, anti-fishing or anti-trapping legislation that might pop up in Annapolis this session.

NOT SO, YOUNG: When the editorial board of the Frederick News Post met last week with County Commissioners President Blaine Young, members write they were surprised by that Young was not the strident, mouthy, word-butchering radio personality they were familiar with.

COMMITTEE SWITCHES: House Speaker Michael Busch made several additional changes to the committee rosters, reports Alan Brody of the Gazette.

SUN DEFICIT?: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland dogs the Sun editorial board for declaring in 2007 that the deficit was “slain,” and praising Gov. Martin O’Malley for his efforts.

HARRIS MISSED VOTE: Annie Linskey blogs for the Sun that Maryland Democratic Party chair Susan Turnbull earned squeals of delight from the state’s Dems last week when she revealed that freshman U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican, missed a vote on his first day on the job in Washington. But Harris wasn’t the only one.

STEELE OUT: Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele loses his bid to be re-elected as RNC chair after controversial term, report Michael Memoli and Paul West for the Sun.

Steele dropped his re-election bid halfway through balloting when it became clear he could not win another two-year term after a first marked by verbal missteps and financial woes, Liz Sidoti reports for the Washington Examiner.

Ralph Hallow of the Washington Times reports that the real headline behind Reince Priebus’ victory as RNC chair is “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour defeats House Speaker John Boehner.”

GOP RETREAT: U.S. House Republicans retreated to Baltimore last week to hash out their legislative agenda: repealing health care reform, cutting government spending and fulfilling the other campaign promises that helped to sweep them into the majority. And they also got their fill of would-be presidential contenders, writes Jean Marbella for the Sun.

EHRLICH RADIO: Less than a week after WBAL Radio said Kendel Ehrlich was leaving the station to spend more time at her kids’ sporting events, she and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich were said to be shopping their radio show around, blogs Kenneth Lam for the Sun.

KLAUSMEIER CHAIRS: Kathy Klausmeier was named chairwoman of the Baltimore County Senate delegation, blogs Steve Schuster of the Towson Times.

Bryan Sears writes in that Klausmeier’s election revealed fissures in the delegation.

FOR SALE: The Crownsville headquarters of the Department of Housing and Community Development is up for sale, and bids to build a new department HQ at a Prince George’s County transit station are being accepted, writes Barbara Pash for

SMOKE-FREE CAMPUS: Last semester, Towson University became one of the first in the region to implement a strict, campuswide smoking ban, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post. Now, similar initiatives are slowly picking up popularity at colleges across the country.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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