State Roundup, September 29, 2011

DEEPER PROBE IN BGE SOUGHT: The Office of People’s Counsel, which represents consumers in utility matters, wants the Maryland Public Service Commission to conduct a “more in-depth investigation” into BGE‘s performance in the wake of Hurricane Irene, write Steve Kilar and Hanah Cho for the Sun.

EXELON PURCHASE NOT A DONE DEAL: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that Marylanders should not assume that the Constellation-Exelon deal will go through. Ever hopeful, he writes, “Why would we essentially sell off control of a public utility for $100 a customer and a relatively mediocre package of incentives from a company that makes billions in profits?”

HEARINGS ON BGE SALE: The Public Service Commission has scheduled three hearings to let the public voice their opinions on the proposed merger of Constellation Energy Group Inc. with Exelon, Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

SLOTS BIDS REJECTED: The state slots commission yesterday threw out bids by some developers seeking to build casinos in Baltimore and Western Maryland, saying the applications failed to provide minimum requirements, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

The Post’s John Wagner reports that one of two bids received on Friday for a site in downtown Baltimore was rejected by the panel because it did not include a required $22.5 million license fee.

The Cumberland Times News also reports on the rejections.

HPV VACCINE IN MD: Maryland has taken a wait-and-see approach to requiring girls to be vaccinated against HPV, with a governor’s task force deciding in 2009 the vaccine was too new to mandate. The public did not know enough about the vaccine and access was too limited, a subcommittee determined, Capital News Service’s Emily Hooper writes in

7 NAMED TO BENCH: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the appointment of seven new circuit court judges yesterday, including a woman whose promotion makes her the first judge at that level of Asian descent.

CURRIE TRIAL: Retiring State Highway Administration chief Neil Pedersen testified yesterday in federal court that state Sen. Ulysses Currie constantly asked him the status of transportation projects sought by Shoppers Food Warehouse but never mentioned being on the company’s payroll, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

A series of documents presented in court showed that during 2003 and 2004, Shoppers, with Currie’s assistance, continued to make attempts to get a light at the shopping center, even after the administration had said multiple times that its analysis showed one was not needed, reports John Wagner for the Post.

Dave Collins of WBAL-TV reports about the email trail in the trial.

POOR COURT DECISION: When one of Charles Dickens’ characters said, “The law is an ass,” he could easily have been referring to a recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision, writes Lynn McLain in an op-ed piece for the Sun. That decision, she writes, that makes it practically impossible for the state to prosecute legislators for taking bribes — unless, perhaps, they are caught on video or with a wired informant.

DISTRICT 20 RACE: Maryland Juice ponders a huge slate for state House District 20 for 2014 and why, and corrects earlier reports.

CHEMICAL CONTAINERS IN BAY: Large chemical containers from a flooded chemical distribution company plant in central Pennsylvania have been turning up in the Chesapeake Bay, Pamela Wood reports for the Annapolis Capital.

STUDENT LOAN DEFAULTS UP: The percentage of college students in Maryland who defaulted on their federal student loans increased last year, as a tough job market for new grads put pressure on student borrowers, reports Brandon Cooper of the Capital News Service for

HELP ON THE WAY: Barbara Pash of writes that, with student loan debt approaching a national crisis, Maryland educators and financial literacy advocates are moving to address the issue – some mandated to do so and others voluntarily.

DEMS TARGET BARTLETT TOO: The campaign arm of U.S. House Democrats has for months been focused almost exclusively on one person in Maryland: Rep. Andy Harris, the first-term Baltimore County Republican. But yesterday, reports John Fritze for the Sun, the group added a new target – Rep. Roscoe Bartlett – and the timing is not likely a coincidence.

MUSE MAY CHALLENGE CARDIN: Maryland state Sen. Anthony Muse is considering a primary challenge next year to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, reports John Wagner and Ben Pershing for the Post.

FEDS PROBE COMPLAINTS AGAINST BA CO: The Sun’s Arthur Hirsch reports that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations that Baltimore County government has harassed employees over their medical conditions and forced some out of their jobs.

SOMERSET DISTRICTING: A newly appointed board will soon tackle how to carve up Somerset County into five election districts in accordance with a new state law that excludes inmates in state prisons from being counted as part of the local population, Liz Holland reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

FIRE ASSOCIATION FINANCES: The Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, under fire from members of its delegation in Annapolis for excessive overhead expenses and hoarded cash, attempted to explain its finances at a public meeting, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports. Click on the video link about the article to hear Fire Association President Glenn Fishack.

FIX THE MISTAKE: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times writes that the Carroll County Board of Commissioners has a chance to fix a mistake when it meets to discuss the contract of an individual hired to perform public relations for the board.

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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