State Roundup, August 22, 2011

TAXES ON THE TABLE: Gov. O’Malley signaled that tax increases could be in the cards during next year’s legislative session, though he said any state action would depend on congressional budget-cutting decisions this winter, reports Nicole Fuller for the Sun.

He warned county leaders to be ready for more state budget cuts and possibly tax increases when the General Assembly meets in January, Bryan Sears reports for

O’Malley said he will pursue “a balanced approach” to preserve investmentsin education and programs that spur job creation, in contrast to that of what he called “the obstructionist, economic saboteurs in Congress,” writes John Wagner for the Post.

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin said it was “truly amazing” that O’Malley would talk about tax increases, as some economists warn of the possibility of a double-dip recession, reports the AP’s Brian Witte in the Cumberland Times-News. “What planet does he live on?” Pipkin said.

Job creation continues to be a main talking point for O’Malley, reports Brian Shane for the Salisbury Daily Times.

LAND-USE BATTLE: The Post’s Aaron Davis reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley and county officials who oppose his plan to curb suburban sprawl fired opening shots Friday in a battle to set a statewide land-use plan that could dramatically affect whether local communities would be eligible to receive state funds for projects such as school construction and new roads.

The kerfuffle is really over money, reports Tony Russo for the taxes that the state can take in from smaller lot sizes and the infrastructure that jurisdictions would have to pay for should the state not support development plans. The timeline is the other major concern counties have. That issue is addressed in the sidebar.

Bryan Sears of quotes O’Malley as saying, “This is not going to prevent the counties from making stupid land use decisions. … We’re not going to subsidize it.”

BOOST THE ECONOMY: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s idea of a tax holiday, opines the Annapolis Capital editorial board, has its merits: Temporarily cut the tax to 9.5%t for cash moved back to the United States, then shunt the estimated $20 billion to $30 billion in revenue into a national infrastructure bank, to renovate schools, build roads and create jobs.

HOW TO GROW JOBS: John Wagner and Anita Kumar of the Post report that, in their first appearance together on national television, Maryland Gov. O’Malley , a Democrat, and Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican, offered very different prescriptions for job growth. And they exchanged a few verbal jabs as well. Each heads up his respective party’s governors association.

JOBS, NO JOBS: The state adds jobs one month and loses them the next, writes Nick Sohr in his Daily Record column, Eye on Annapolis. In Western Maryland, job losses in manufacturing and logistics have slowed the recovery.

DISTRICTING MARYLAND: By planting more and more districts firmly in the camp of one party or the other, writes the editorial board for the Post, the process, abetted by computer wizardry and the hard-line leanings of both parties’ primary voters, leads directly to uncompromising, line-in-the-sand politicians.

IMMIGRANT RULING DRAWS PRAISE: The decision that lets illegal immigrants without a criminal record stay in the country and apply for a work permit has won support from a state immigrant advocacy group and an outcry of protest from DREAM Act opponents, writes Theresa Winslow of the Annapolis Capital.

THE WHITE DOME: The Sun’s Jonathan Pitts takes a tour of the State House dome, which is undergoing an extensive facelift, and writes about the finding that Charles Willson Peale’s watercolor showing the dome painted in a series of colors — gold for the drum level, gray and peach for the bell, then gold alternating with peach, tier by tier – was an accurate portrayal. This follows up a MarylandReporter blog last week that says the dome will be repainted white.

CLAGETT TESTS THE WATERS: State Del. Galen Clagett has assembled an exploratory committee to test the political waters throughout the state before he decides whether to make a bid for comptroller, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

STATE PARKS ADAPT TO NEW CLIENTELE: The staff at Maryland’s state parks, destination for 11 million visitors last year, is learning to adapt to a rapidly growing and enthusiastic clientele who come early, stay until closing and are repeat customers. They are Hispanic families, writes Candus Thomson for the Sun. Be sure to view the video interview with one parks worker who helps bridge the cultural divide. Then click here to view Kim Hairston’s photo gallery of a day filled with family and fun at Greenbrier State Park.

ROSECROFT TO REOPEN: John Wagner of the Post reports that Rosecroft Raceway, the once-storied horse track in Prince George’s County, will reopen on Thursday, according to its new owner, and Maryland politicians are likely to play a big role in shaping its future.

STATE BILL A SORRY ERROR: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes about a family who received a bill from the state of Maryland for $640.71 to repair the guardrail their daughter struck. The problem is that the 21-year-old woman was killed in the accident and the bill also included the accident report. A spokesman for the State Highway Administration, which sent the bill, said the dunning letter was an “inexcusable” error and has been rescinded.

BICYCLE LOGIC: In his Sun column, Michael Dresser writes that the MVA has gotten something right: The new drivers manual outlines the rules of the road pertaining to bicyclists and other drivers.

CONGRESSIONAL PAGE PROGRAM ENDS: The Sun’s John Fritze interviews a number of people who were and are pages in the U.S. Congress as the federal government begins to shut down the 184-year-old program that helped to introduce many teenagers to the inner-workings of government as well as political scandal.

A REAL CRAB FEAST: In an op-ed for the Sun, attorney Stephen Awalt takes the time out to write that a Maryland crab feast is best enjoyed with plenty of family, newspapers, beer, mallets and jimmies. There ain’t no such animal as a designer crab feast!

LINE IN FREDERICK: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that the redistricting plan presented by local state Republican representatives is a levelheaded take on how Frederick County should be divided up to best represent local residents in Annapolis and urges Democrats to consider it during the debate over realigning Maryland’s political representation during the next legislative session, starting in January.

BA CO MAPPING PROCESS: The editorial board for the Sun writes that, while it is virtually impossible to draw a legislative boundary map that makes everyone happy, the process that Baltimore County is going through right now looks pretty good compared to the nakedly political redrawing of Maryland’s congressional district lines.

MASTER PLAN MASTER CLASS: Carroll County’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Commissioners say they want an open process and community input in revisions to the master plan, opines the Carroll County Times editorial board. But it will be difficult to avoid some of the problems that are sure to arise in any comprehensive process such as this.

TOO MANY AT MACo: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times writes four Carroll County commissioners attended the MACo conference in Ocean City for at least part of the conference, and two staffers attended the entire event, despite saying earlier that it would send only one representative. It’s the latest example of the commissioners saying one thing, but doing another.

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:


  1. TowsonTom

    Just over the Delaware line is looking better and better.

  2. Anonymous

    We, out here realize much Maryland spending is profligate and discretionary. Why is it all we are hearing is about the need for increasing “revenues” (read taxes)? How is it that “Va. produces a $545 million budget surplus, when Maryland has billions in deficits? Before you ask for more tax money from us, Maryland needs to cure the violations of the implicit social contract between Maryland citizens and our government that our taxes will be spent—effectively and efficiently—on purposes that support the general needs of the state (as compared to furthering special interests on behalf of elected elites).

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