State Roundup, April 6, 2012

TAX COMPROMISE OFFERED: During a Thursday evening budget conference committee meeting senators offered a compromise on income taxes: a sharper increase for higher earners, and lower exemptions for all, reports Megan Poinski of

The Senate had initially wanted an across-the-board tax hike, which didn’t fit with priorities of House Democrats or Gov. Martin O’Malley, reports the Post’s Aaron Davis.

An Associated Press story in the Herald-Mail details how the compromise would work.

WJZ’s Pat Warren reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley has been brought in to try to mediate the differences between the two plans.

MCCONKEY HELPS HIMSELF:  A provision added to a bill by Del. Tony McConkey – a real estate broker whose license has been suspended because he was found to have preyed on clients in foreclosure – could help him get his license back by repaying an assistance fund, reports The Post’s Aaron Davis.

CASINO PROSPECTS: Del. Frank Turner, who chairs the House subcommittee that deals with gambling, said his subcommittee will “fix or kill” the bill before them that could add a sixth slots casino at National Harbor and table games at all of the state’s casinos, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

Senate President Mike Miller said that any bill expanding gambling must include a sixth Prince George’s casino if it is going to pass, Alexander Pyles for The Daily Record’s Eye on Annapolis blog.

The Sun’s Annie Linskey writes that in the gambling legislation, the biggest payout would go to the lobbyists working on the bills.

WBFF’s John Rydell has a video report.

GAS TAX: Speaker of the House Mike Busch told reporters that the proposed sales tax on gas has no chance of passing the General Assembly this year, given the price of gas, reports Ben Giles of the Examiner.

The Gazette’s Daniel Leaderman documents why Gov. Martin O’Malley last minute sales tax proposal to fund transportation is unlikely to pass.

ONLINE DISCLOSURE ISSUES: The bill that would require candidates and officials to put their ethics disclosures online may face problems in the House, where Del. Maggie McIntosh says she believes the bill goes too far and puts personal information online, making lawmakers vulnerable to identity theft, according to a story in The Capital reported by the AP’s Sarah Breitenbach.

Sponsor Sen. Jamie Raskin argues that Maryland needs to move into the 21st century on disclosure, Dan Menefee reports in

RAISE DROPOUT AGE: The House passed a bill to increase the dropout age, first to 16 and then to 17.’s Justin Snow reported that some praised the bill’s intentions, but looked critically at its costs.

Del. Tiffany Alston said that through the bill, the state would save money on prison costs and other social services that currently serve young dropouts, reports The Post’s John Wagner.

According to state estimates, about 9,500 students have dropped out of school each year in the last decade, reports David Hill of the Washington Times. Parents of children not in school or getting homeschooled until age 15 can be charged with a misdemeanor.

ARSENIC IN CHICKEN FEED: The Senate passed a bill on Thursday approving a statewide ban on arsenic in chicken feed, reports the AP’s Sarah Breitenbach on WTOP’s website. The measure now goes to the House of Delegates for final authorization.

FROZEN SPERM AND EGGS: Another bill that cleared the Senate on Thursday prohibits people from using frozen sperm and eggs of someone who is deceased without that person’s prior written permission, according to an AP report by Sarah Breitenbach on WTOP’s website.

PROPERTY TAXES: The state Department of Assessments and Taxation predicts that property tax revenues will continue to decline for county governments, Danielle Gaines reports in the Gazette.

BILLIONS NEEDED FOR ROADS, BRIDGES: The Road Information Project identified the state’s top 40 priorities for infrastructure repair and unveiled its list in Annapolis this week, reports The Capital’s Ben Weathers.

The Daily Record’s editorial board looks at the report and the lack of movement in the General Assembly on a proposed increase in taxes paid on gas, which would fund road projects, asking if lawmakers are  willing to pay the price for inaction.

HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE: The Senate passed the bill setting up the health care exchange, sending it to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

DELANEY WIN: Columnist Josh Kurtz says the Democratic Party establishment took it on the chin Tuesday with the victory of John Delaney in the 6th Congressional District, clobbering the hand-picked candidate of the powers-that-be.

More follow-up on the 6th District race and Democratic unity talks in the Gazette.

Gazette columnist Blair Lee dissects how Delaney, a wealthy Democratic Party fundraiser, became the “outsider” in the race against Sen. Rob Garagiola.

SUPERNOVA MIKULSKI: Sen. Barbara Mikulski is known for her outspoken support of space legislation, and had a supernova named in her honor on Thursday, according to an AP story in the Herald-Mail.

VAN HOLLEN SEAT: Republicans are talking about unseating Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the redrawn 8th Congressional District, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

O’MALLEY AMBITIONS: Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar says Gov. Martin O’Malley’s national ambitions have hit a speed bump in this year’s legislature.

BALTIMORE UNITED? Gov. Martin O’Malley tucked a $175,000 feasibility study into his supplemental budget to build a new soccer stadium in South Baltimore to woo the DC United team to play there, reports Brian Hughes of the Examiner.

FREDERICK FIGHTS BILL: Frederick County Commissioners oppose a bill that would make firefighters able to claim workers’ compensation for some types of cancer, reports the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers. The county fears ballooning costs.

CONSOLATION PRIZE? The News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers talks with Del. Kathy Afzali, who lost her bid for a seat in Congress on Tuesday, but was elected a delegate to the Republican National Convention for Mitt Romney.

BALTIMORE CO BOE: The House of Delegates vote to change the make-up of the Baltimore County School Board – making it partially elected – could come as soon as Friday, reports’s Bryan Sears.

WYPR’s Joel McCord has an audio report on this and several other bills passed by the General Assembly on Thursday.

ATTENDANCE BILL LIKELY DEAD: A bill sponsored by most of the members of the Ways and Means Committee that would allow students from the Little Orleans area of Allegany County to keep going to school in Hancock has not yet made it out of the committee, making it unlikely to pass, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

COUNTY HEALTH RATINGS: Howard County is the healthiest and Baltimore City the most unhealthy jurisdiction in Maryland, according to a new national report, writes Benjamin Ford in the Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on Sen. Delores Kelley’s hot house; wind demos; budget arm wrestling; and Ed Kasemeyer’s perfect game.


About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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