State Roundup, March 15, 2011

DREAM ACT: Undocumented students hoping to apply for in-state tuition at four-year colleges and universities received the official backing of the full state Senate yesterday in a vote that officially puts the issue in the hands of the House of Delegates, writes Yasmeen Abutaleb of the Diamondback.

The cost of offering in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants who graduate from Maryland high schools might be significantly higher than estimated, since they were based only on figures from Montgomery College and no other community college, Glynis Kazanjian reports for

The Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs that bill sponsor Sen. Victor Ramirez said, “This is about education and what the future of Maryland looks like. These kids didn’t make the decision to move to Maryland. Their parents did.”

You can read the entire Senate bill here.

UNION PROTEST: As Maryland lawmakers prepare to make decisions on budget cuts and pension reform, thousands of union members on Monday marched on Annapolis in protest, blogs Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has proposed changes to address a troubling $19 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $16 billion in retiree health liabilities. It would require increased contributions from state employees, the AP’s Tom LoBianco writes in the Salisbury Daily Times.

And in a bizarre finale to a rally the last speaker was none other than the man who had triggered the rally by proposing the cuts: O’Malley, who said in a short speech, “I don’t like this budget either.” Len Lazarick of said the governor was met by cheers, some grumbling, and the evening’s chant of “Keep the Promise.”

Kelly McPherson of WJZ-TV attended the rally.

SNACK & TAX: The Carroll County Public Library hosts a chip tasting for National Potato Chip Day as the proposed 6% snack tax increase looms in Annapolis, writes Caroline Hailey of the Carroll County Times.

RESURRECTION: The Frederick News Post editorial board writes that persistence pays off, so while same-sex marriage and medical marijuana are dead for this year, expect the proposals to return next year.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: In light of the fact that Montgomery County has never approved a charter school proposal, the state of Maryland should end local school board’s right to kill them, writes the editorial board for the Washington Examiner.

FRACKING CONCERN: O’Malley is urging a cautious approach to natural gas drilling in western Maryland, telling farmers, landowners and environmentalists yesterday that his administration will consider science and safety assurances in reviewing pending applications to drill in the Marcellus Shale, according to an AP report at

MOONEY MONEY: In his unsuccessful attempt to win a third state Senate term, Republican Alex Mooney stood well above any other local candidate, raising more than $200,000 and spending twice that, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

O’MALLEY’S AMBITION: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks says that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s talk is inconsistent with his inaction on a number of important issues, including gay marriage and the death penalty.

O’MALLEY BOOKED: The Post’s John Wagner blogs that O’Malley’s March, the governor’s Celtic rock band, has been booked for a pair of post-St. Patrick’s Day shows this weekend at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore.

Then on April 6, O’Malley’s political travels will take him to the home turf of frequent sparring partner New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, where as new chair of the Democratic Governors Association, he been booked as the keynote speaker at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner sponsored by the N.J. Democratic State Committee.

JOHNSON TO BE ARRAIGNED: In, Pamela Brown of ABC7 reports that former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson will be arraigned today on federal bribery charges stemming from an alleged pay-to-play scandal that rocked the final days of his administration.

BAKER BUDGET: Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker plans to increase public safety staffing and use $50 million to attract businesses, while eliminating county employee raises for the third year and allotting $11 million to encourage longtime teachers to retire, Daniel Valentine reports for the Gazette.

LEGGETT BUDGET: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, who has staked his legacy on issues of fiscal responsibility, will propose a $4.35 billion budget today seemingly designed to make no one happy: It would raise property tax rates, cut library staff, give the public schools less than requested and slash spending on the arts and mental health programs, writes Michael Laris for the Post.

KAMENETZ’S 100 DAYS: Baltimore County Exec Kevin Kamenetz reflects on his first 100 days in office, recalling the lows – announcing the death of a county volunteer firefighter and eliminating 143 county positions – and the highs. Then Steve Schuster of the Towson Times interviews locals who also assess those first 100 days.

FINE AS DEPUTY: Several oversight agencies say Maryland’s Constitution requires that regional state’s attorneys be “admitted to practice Law in this State,” but  itdoesn’t say much at all about deputies, which means George Hazel is in the clear, Tricia Bishop reports for the Sun. The former federal prosecutor is chief deputy under Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, even though he’s not licensed in Maryland, which was called “problematic” by the secretary of the Maryland State Board of Law Examiners.

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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