State Roundup, January 31, 2011

TAXES OR CUTS: Maryland lawmakers will either have to raise property taxes by 56% over the next five years, or take away $1.1 billion from classrooms, police and other core state services to cover record state borrowing, the Post’s Aaron Davis reports.

BUDGET TALK: Len Lazarick of sits down with Bryan Sears of to discuss the Gov. O’Malley’s budget proposal and the upcoming State of the State address.

GOP ON BUDGET: In a thoughtful piece in Red Maryland, former GOP candidate Brian Murphy addresses Gov. O’Malley’s budget on a point-by-point basis.

Republican members of the Washington County delegation to the General Assembly think Gov. O’Malley is delaying the tough decisions with his proposed fiscal year 2012 budget, writes Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

The state still hasn’t done some of the basic things to cut spending, Carroll County’s delegation says, such as eliminating a rule requiring the use of the prevailing wage in school construction projects, which artificially raises the price of projects. Ryan Marshall writes the story for the Carroll County Times.

ROSECROFT SOLD: Penn National Gaming Inc. bought the embattled Rosecroft Raceway at a bankruptcy auction Friday for $10.25 million, and it plans to add slot machines there. The sale is subject to federal bankruptcy court approval, writes Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal.

But expect Penn National to face stiff opposition from state lawmakers for its plans to get slot machines at Rosecroft, reports Rachel Bernstein in the Daily Record. Del. Dereck Davis, of the Economic Matters Committee, said Penn told him in 2007 that it would be interested in Rosecroft with or without slots.

Penn National outbid Baltimore lawyer and Orioles owner Peter Angelos and one other unidentified bidder, reports Hanah Cho of the Sun.

The Post’s Miranda Spivack reports that the track, which closed in July, is in an area of Prince George’s County that officials are eager to redevelop.

Lindsey Robbins of the Gazette also writes about the auction sale, as does Rachel Bernstein for the Daily Record.

UNION CONTRACT: State workers have until Monday to vote on the second union contract that enforces the controversial “fair share” law, allowing state government unions to require non-union members to pay them a service fee, writes Megan Poinski for The law passed in 2009.

NO WELFARE CARDS AT SLOTS: Two Anne Arundel delegates want to prohibit the use of welfare cards at slot machine casinos, the latest attempt at limiting the social fallout from Maryland’s foray into gambling. The state already prohibits check-cashing and the direct use of credit and debit cards in slot machines, reports Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Capital.

VETERAN SLOTS: Several Carroll County veterans’ organizations are supporting the bill that would allow them to have up to five slot machines in their posts or halls, Steve Schuster writes for the Carroll Eagle.

PONY UP FOR SLOTS SIGNS: A man gave an Anne Arundel County prosecutor a check for more than $8,000 Friday to pay for signs supporting a slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall that were stolen last fall, a move that his lawyer said was not an admission of guilt, Andrea Siegel reports for the Sun.

DON’T PROP RACING: The Annapolis Capital editorial board says it’s time that Maryland concede that horse-racing – though undeniably important to its history – is a fading form of recreation that can’t be propped up forever at public expense.

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY: In a story somehow missed on Friday, the date for next year’s presidential primary in Maryland is up in the air, but it won’t be in February, that’s for sure, Alan Brody writes in the Gazette.

DEATH PENALTY: The Sun’s editorial boards says Gov. O’Malley should take advantage of changes in Annapolis and a temporary shortage of a key lethal injection drug to work toward abolishing Maryland’s death penalty law.

GAY UNION HEARING: A Feb. 8 hearing has been set on one of the most high-profile issues before the Maryland General Assembly this year: legalizing marriage between same-sex couples, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

The hearing, set for 1 p.m., will wrap in all other bills “relating to same-sex marriage and civil unions,” according to the schedule, blogs the Sun’s Annie Linskey.

WINE SHIPMENTS: Lawmakers filed legislation Friday in the General Assembly that would permit direct shipping of wine to consumers. House Bill 234 and Senate Bill 248 would allow wineries and retailers to ship wine directly to buyers so long as they are permitted to do so, Scott Graham of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

GAME CONCUSSIONS: House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Dereck Davis is sponsoring a bill requiring that young athletes suspected of suffering a concussion during a game or practice be removed and barred from returning until they are cleared by a physician, Jeff Newman reports for

SMALL BIZ BOOST: Small business in Maryland is getting a big boost from a state plan called “Maryland Made Easy” designed to create a more business-friendly environment, according to Gov. O’Malley, Denise Cabrera writes for

JACOBS ON GOP AGENDA: New Senate Republican leader Nancy Jacobs, who replaced Alan Kittleman in the leadership post, sits down with Len Lazarick of to discuss the GOP agenda in the State House.

ANNAPOLIS SUMMIT: Last Friday on Marc Steiner’s show on WEAA-FM, Steiner talked with Eastern Shore farmers, then recaps the 2011 Annapolis Summit with Gov. O’Malley, House Speaker Michael Bush and Senate President Mike Miller.

ROAD TAXES FOR ROADS: Highway user money, raised from local drivers in the form of fuel tax, motor vehicle registration, titling and other fees, needs to be used on major road repairs, the Frederick News Post editorial board writes. Instead, it is being used as a slush fund by the governor to balance the state’s wildly out-of-balance budget.

O’MALLEY BLASTS PEPCO: In a letter to its CEO, O’Malley has blasted Pepco, saying he is outraged and calling the company’s power restoration rate after last week’s winter weather “dismal,” Andrew Mollenbeck and Gary Emerling report for WTOP.

Here’s an AP article run by WJZ-TV. But scroll down to read the one reader comment, which sometimes can add insight into a topic.

PG ETHICS PANEL: Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker’s ethics panel met Saturday, beginning the formidable project to end corruption, reports Miranda Spivack of the Post.

2nd LOOK AT CHARTER PLAN: The state Board of Education has asked Montgomery County to take a second look at a new charter school proposal and articulate more fully its objections to it, Jenna Johnson reports for the Post.

WON’T SUPPORT BOND BILLS: Republican delegates from Frederick County have declined to support local bond bills for building projects and renovations — the state’s version of earmarks, reports Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post.

HOCO HOTEL TAX: Howard County’s state legislators are struggling to decide if the county’s hotel room tax should rise to 7% from 5%, even though hotel owners are supporting it as a way to raise money for tourism and business promotion, writes the Sun’s Larry Carson. Some elected officials worry about raising the rates in what they see as an anti-tax political climate.

GRAFFITI FINES: Two Baltimore County lawmakers seek to double the fines for graffiti, following incidents in Perry Hall, the Sun’s Raven Hill reports.

DEL. SZELIGA: Del. Kathy Szeliga of Harford County may have an easier time than most newly elected lawmakers in adjusting to her new job in Annapolis. She worked for former state Sen. Andy Harris as a legislative aide. The Dagger offers up her newsletter.

CITY DISTRICTING: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is set to unveil her proposed council redistricting map for the city today, Julie Scharper reports for the Sun.

OFFICIALS STUMPED: State and local elected officials come up short of explanations of why and how an East Baltimore development project gets millions of federal dollars every year, Joan Jacobson and Melody Simmons report for the Daily Record. The community is known as Middle East, which some people want to change.

Here’s a timeline of the project and a map of the two phases, both by Jon Sham.

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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