State Roundup, March 31, 2011

GRASMICK TO RETIRE: Maryland schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, who used her considerable political acumen to reshape education in the state over the past two decades, announced yesterday that she will retire from her post on June 30, reports the Sun’s Liz Bowie, Erica Green and Julie Bykowicz. Click on the video at the top of the story to view her announcement to her staff.

One of the nation’s longest-serving state school chiefs, Grasmick weathered feuds with governors and local superintendents over education policy, writes Robert Samuels of the Post.

Grasmick noted that Maryland’s schools have received the top ranking in a survey by a national education publication for three years in a row, and that it’s a good time to pass the job on to someone else, Tina Reed reports for the Annapolis Capital.

Grasmick said her career had reached a critical juncture, Andrew Ujifusa reports for the Gazette, where she could begin considering what kind of legacy she could leave the next superintendent.

Charles Robinson, a reporter for Maryland Public Television, and Liz Bowie, of the Sun, join Marc Steiner to talk about Grasmick’s resignation.

Here’s a Sun photo gallery of Grasmick’s life.

ROAD REPAIRS: Maryland counties and municipalities are set to receive a one-time $13.2 million infusion to help maintain and repair battered roads, under spending plans recently approved by the House and Senate, David Saleh Rauf of the Capital News Service reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

BRINKLEY ON BUDGET: The day after casting his first “no” vote on the state budget, Sen. David Brinkley discovered that the governor had stopped by his office, unannounced, before 8 a.m., Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post. “And the criticism I made to the governor was it pushes the problem down to whoever his successor would be,” he said.

RETIREES REACT: State retirees are taking the revamped prescription drug plan as a slap in the face, reports Megan Poinski for

ED TAX: A bill giving local school boards the authority to impose a property tax to fund education is meeting stiff resistance from the Baltimore delegation, reports Dave Collins for WBAL-TV.

RUSH TO FINISH: An Associated Press report in the Carroll County Times says that Maryland lawmakers are rushing to approve bills on everything from hot-button social issues to the budget before they leave town in less than two weeks. But most of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s top priorities have yet to clear their committees.

Members of the newly formed Maryland Tea Party Caucus are pushing a series of bills to give counties the power to raise fees, says an AP report in the Daily Record, proposals that House Democrats are calling “hypocritical.”

UTILITY STANDARDS: The Post’s John Wagner reports that Pepco and other utilities that fail to meet new reliability standards could face much larger fines and have to pay them sooner under a measure passed yesterday by the state Senate.

The bill would require the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to establish electric service reliability standards and impose million-dollar fines on companies that fail to comply, reports Hayley Peterson for the Washington Examiner.

Kelly McPherson of WJZ-TV has reaction from customers and BGE.

BUS CAMERA BILL DELAYED: An Eastern Shore state senator’s objections to a school bus camera bill requested by Frederick County Public Schools has led to the legislation being delayed, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

BOOZE TAX: The Senate passed an additional 3% sales tax surcharge on alcoholic beverages, bringing the total to 9% sales tax on beer, wine and spirits, Len Lazarick writes for The bill now heads to the House of Delegates.

The bill is projected to raise $85 million a year by the time it is fully implemented, reports John Wagner in the Post, and the bulk of the proceeds would initially go to public schools in Prince George’s County and Baltimore.

FARE HIKES: Maryland’s budget is shaping up in a way that could hand users of MTA services such as Baltimore buses and MARC trains their first fare increase in eight years despite the O’Malley administration’s reluctance to charge more, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

FIREHOUSE FUNDING: A House of Delegates budget committee yesterday rejected a funding request for the Antietam Fire Co., which was counting on $200,000 to open a new station in Hagerstown’s North End, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

MO’M JAMMIN’ IN DC: O’Malley took his musical talents to the residence of the Israeli ambassador in Washington Tuesday night, where he was among the guests who “jammed” with an Israeli-Celtic band, blogs John Wagner in the Post. You can click on an embedded YouTube video in the story to view a 3-minute clip of his performance.

TAX FREEDOM DAY: Peter Panepinto of the Carroll County Times writes that April 12 is the day that Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels, three days later than last year. But for Marylanders, that day is April 17, two days earlier than in 2010.

TIES TO LAUREL: In the charging documents filed against Prince George’s Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, wife of former County Exec Jack Johnson, prosecutors identify the developer who allegedly gave more than $120,000 to her husband as a commercial and residential developer who has offices in Laurel, Gwendolyn Glenn reports for the Laurel Leader.

MISTRIAL IN THREAT CASE: A judge declared a mistrial yesterday after a Baltimore County jury became deadlocked in the case of a construction worker accused of making a death threat against the governor, writes Nick Madigan for the Sun.

New Improved Printer Button: Lots of folks were having problems with our old software to produce printer-friendly copies of our stories. We changed the software, and the new button at the bottom of every story creates a PDF you can print or save.

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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