BUDGET: As budget negotiators put the finishing touches on the state’s $34.2 billion spending plan for fiscal 2012, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned about a projected fund balance (surplus) that is lower than any budget in eight years, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette.
WIND BILL SHELVED: Gov. Martin O’Malley’s legislative proposal to build wind turbines off of Maryland’s coast as a renewable energy source that utilities would be required to use was shelved on Thursday, reported The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler, Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz. Wheeler, an environmental blogger, blogs about it here.
The Post’s Aaron Davis said that the centerpiece to O’Malley’s energy policy proposal will come back for further consideration either during a special session later this year or in 2012.
Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton told The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr that his committee has just begun to scratch the surface on the wind power issue. The Gazette’s Jeff Newman reports the Senate Finance Committee will study it this summer, as its chairman suggested weeks ago.
O’Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec told The Washington Examiner’s Brian Hughes that this is not an unexpected development; the legislation and concept is very complicated.
Del. Dereck Davis told The Washington Times’ David Hill that his committee would also continue hearings on the concept while the General Assembly is not in session.
IN-STATE TUITION: More than two hours of debate, and 12 failed amendments led to the House’s preliminary approval of a bill that would give young illegal immigrants a path to in-state tuition at Maryland’s state colleges. MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski details the failed amendments.
The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz said that the House’s Thursday debate was long on discussion, but short on fireworks. She blogs some of the debate’s specifics here.
Brian Witte of the Associated Press goes through several of the arguments brought forward by Republicans opposing the bill in a story that appeared in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
The lengthy debate kept the House from debating another pressing issue: a proposed new tax on alcohol, reports The Washington Times’ David Hill.
WBAL’s David Collins has video. WBFF’s John Rydell also has a video story.
FEDERAL SHUTDOWN: Maryland is bracing for a looming federal government shutdown, which could get pretty ugly. O’Malley said he will try to make sure that employees who are paid from federal grants continue to receive their paychecks, but a furlough of the tens of thousands of federal workers who live in the state could cost the state $40 million in just two weeks, reports The Sun’s John Fritze, Arthut Hirsch and Annie Linskey.
An Associated Press story in the Daily Record says that long of a government shutdown could cost the state $160 million in spending on consumer goods.
WBAL’s Kim Dacey has video.
FINAL DAY: Monday’s final day of the General Assembly is expected to have the usual stops and starts, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.
SOCIAL ISSUES: Other social issues lost steam after the debate on same-sex marriage consumed so much time and energy at the legislature, Sarah Breitenbach reports in the Gazette.
O’MALLEY VS. CHRISTIE: Speaking at the New Jersey Democrats’ fundraising dinner, O’Malley took more jabs at rival, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, blogs The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz. O’Malley said that Maryland threw out a mean-spirited, ineffective Republican governor after one term, and said he hopes New Jersey can do the same, reports The Post’s John Wagner.
HOME HEALTH UNION: Legislation to allow home health care workers to unionize advanced in the Senate on Thursday, despite concerns about some of them who might not want to join having to pay the union a fee, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.
CUTS TO ROSECROFT, OCEAN DOWNS: Lawmakers are considering cutting Rosecroft and Ocean Downs racetracks out of a bill that would allow the track owners to put slots proceeds into operating costs, according to an Associated Press story on WJZ.
PAROLE BILL CHANGED BACK: A bill intended to force the governor into taking action on parole applications for prisoners serving life sentences was changed back to its original format: defaulting to parole if it is recommended, reports MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski.
SPECIAL SESSION: A special session of the General Assembly is expected to convene this fall to deal with congressional redistricting, but tax increases may also be on the table, writes the Gazette’s Alan Brody.
FRANCHOT IN 2014? The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board wonders if Comptroller Peter Franchot might be the man to fill O’Malley’s shoes in the next gubernatorial election.
TOP PAID LOBBYISTS: Just in time for the finale of the General Assembly, the Baltimore Business Journal’s Carolyn Proctor compiles a list of the state’s five highest paid lobbyists.
MORE TRANSPARENCY: An amendment added to the bill establishing the Invest Maryland program would make detailed reports on participants in the state-sponsored venture program and the funds involved easily accessible online, writes MarylandReporter.com’s Megan Poinski.
TEA PARTY STATE OF STATE: Americans for Prosperity Maryland head Charles Lollar is going to give a speech today in Annapolis on where he sees the state of the state, according to an Associated Press story in the Salisbury Daily Times.
SWIFT AND CERTAIN? A bill that Del. Christopher Shank has offered for the last four years that would bring “swift and certain sanctions” for parole and probation violators might actually make its way before O’Malley – if both houses can pass the same version of the bill before adjourning on Monday, that is, reports the Hagerstown Herald-Mail’s Andrew Schotz.
KAMENETZ CAN’T: In a letter to lawmakers who urged him not to cut 196 teaching positions, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said it “does not appear to be possible” to retain the positions, reports The Sun’s Liz Bowie. Kamenetz said the additional funds lawmakers were able to get for the county’s schools would not cover the cost.
The cuts will be part of the first budget Kamenetz presents to the County Council next week, reports Bryan Sears of Patch.com.
Kamenetz said that it would cost $15.8 million – plus $9 million in benefits – to retain the student-teacher ratio, reports Patuxent Publishing’s Steven Schuster.
LEOPOLD LAWSUIT: A former community services specialist for Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold has joined as a new plaintiff in the lawsuit against him, claiming that she was fired from her job in retaliation for helping out with the case, reports The Sun’s Andrea Siegel.
LEAD PAINT PAYMENTS: Three members of the General Assembly sent Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake a letter urging her to pay almost $12 million in lead poisoning judgments against it, reports The Sun’s Scott Calvert. Rawlings-Blake previously said the city did not have the money.
NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on lights out at a news conference on electricity reliability; Wiffle ball in the House; vote changes and federal stimulation; a lawmaker’s baby; O’Malley sprinkler talk; and mangling Del. Kathy Afzali’s last name.
POLICE CRUISERS: Jeff Newman in the Gazette reports that there is growing concern that two-thirds of state police cruisers now have more than 150,000 miles on the odometer. The state budget is just beginning to tackle the problem.
GAZETTE COLUMNISTS: Blair Lee opines on wind farms and fracking; Barry Rascovar explores hot air in Congress and at the State House.