PLANMARYLAND PLUS: Frederick County officials are lauding legislation they believe underscores their authority to make land-use decisions without risking the loss of certain state funds or permits, writes Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post. On Tuesday, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that spells out the limits of PlanMaryland, the smart growth doctrine he approved in December.
DREAM ACT: Jeff Abell of WBFF-TV reports that Maryland religious leaders are pushing to educate the public to keep the Maryland DREAM Act , which would allow children who are illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition.
LOCAL BUDGET CRUNCH: The Sun editorial board writes that this is the season when local governments finalize their budgets for the next fiscal year, and the grousing about their penurious circumstances is in full swing. Some are even complaining that the state’s revised budget and tax plan — signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley this week — has put a serious crimp in their finances.
GIVE VOTERS A SAY: Sen. Jim Rosapepe and Del. Brian Feldman are calling for a state constitutional amendment allowing transportation issues to be in the hands of the voters in an attempt to move transportation infrastructure and traffic congestion issues forward at a time when they feel the legislature is hesitant, writes Jeff Bach in the Baltimore Business Journal.
GREEN HOTELS: Maryland’s green initiative takes another step forward, reports Pat Warren of WJZ-TV. A new law signed by the governor this week requires hotels to install energy-saving equipment that automatically turns out the lights and it’s expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
OF PIT BULLS & GAY MARRIAGE: Paul Foer of the Capital-Gazette writes an interesting, if somewhat forced, column on pit bulls and gay marriage, saying Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen and Del. Herb McMillan each have pit bulls. However, the tax-and-spend liberal Democrat Cohen favors gay marriage while the arch conservative Republican McMillan opposes it, yet both agree a legal rendering that says a pit bull is inherently dangerous is wrong.
JUVIES IN NEED: The state’s juvenile services secretary says he is considering expanding the size of privately run residential facilities for young offenders as his agency grapples with a shortage of beds, saying that youths in need of rehabilitation are languishing in detention centers as they await openings, Justin Fenton reports in the Sun.
COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES LACKING: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that a new state audit has found that county social service agencies don’t do a good job of tracking foster children, leave federal funding on the table, have missing files on welfare checks and grant food stamps to too many ineligible people.
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: State officials approved more than $161 million in school construction funding yesterday that will allow school systems in the Baltimore area to undertake renovation projects, tackling problems that include sweltering and overcrowded classrooms and dilapidated buildings and amenities, Erica Green reports in the Sun.
1st RESPONDER NETWORK: Contracts over a statewide wireless radio network for first responders produced a heated debate before the Board of Public Works yesterday, causing the award to be delayed for two weeks, Dana Amihere writes for MarylandReporter.com.
WBFF PUSH POLL:Maryland Juice’s David Moon writes about a “push poll” conducted by WBFF-TV over the weekend that appeared to be slanted against two O’Malley initiatives – marriage equality and the DREAM Act for college students who are illegal immigrants. The Sun’s David Zurawik broke the story.
MCDONOUGH DIALOGUE: Del. Pat McDonough’s inflammatory words about “roving mobs of black youths,” writes David Zurawik of the Sun, should start an honest dialogue about race. Instead, some are calling for McDonough, who is also a part-time talk show host, to be silenced.
DGA DONOR MEETING: John Wagner blogs in the Post that Gov. O’Malley headed to the Eastern Shore yesterday to host donors to the Democratic Governors Association at a two-day spring policy conference.
FORECLOSURE CRISIS: Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner reports that housing experts are saying that Maryland’s efforts to help cash-strapped homeowners avoid foreclosure are prolonging the housing crisis.
HARRIS NOT FOCUSED ON ELECTION: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris delivered a passionate critique on federal spending during a public meeting in Perry Hall Wednesday afternoon—but when asked about upcoming congressional and presidential elections, he appeared more than a little disinterested, reports Emily Kimball of Patch.com.
WAGE EQUALITY: A proposal to expand equal-pay protections for women, long championed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, was thrust into the national political spotlight yesterday in a Democratic effort to court female voters — a crucial demographic in this year’s election, writes John Fritze for the Sun.