Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Monday, April 02, 2007

20070330 News Clips

News Clips

Posted April 1st, 2007

State News

2009 is coming fast for governor

With no progress on next years $1.5 billion budget deficit and a variety of unappealing possibilities on the table, the state has a lot of work to do

If Gov. Martin OMalley has enjoyed a honeymoon since taking office in January, the months until the next General Assembly should show just how much work a marriage takes.

Before lawmakers return to Annapolis in 2009, the governor faces the difficult task of convincing Marylanders that the budget surplus which played a prominent role in political advertising last fall no longer exists and the state capital needs more money from taxpayers.

I can tell you unequivocally we will not participate in any discussion of tax increases, said House Minority Leader Anthony J. ODonnell (R-Dist. 29C) of Lusby.

Senate considering granting tuition for illegal immigrants

The Maryland senate is considering granting the privilege of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The bill has already passed the House of Delegates and Governor Martin OMalley says he would sign the bill into law. Senate president Mike Miller told WBAL Radio that the bill has merit.

How tobacco bill flamed out at end

Millers block ends plan to expand Medicaid for 200,000 uninsured residents

Lawmakers began the 2007 General Assembly certain that the session would be marked by a significant expansion of health coverage for Marylands 800,000 uninsured residents.

With 11 days to go until the legislature adjourns, it seems all but certain that the House of Delegates effort to provide health care to 200,000 through a cigarette tax increase will die in the Senate. Observers say only timid steps at best will reach Gov. Martin OMalleys desk.

Miller pressed to back health bill

Advocates bombard his offices with calls,0,6810316.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

The phones have started ringing in the stately offices of Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and the deluge of calls is not expected to let up until the General Assembly session ends in less than two weeks.

The retiree organization AARP has set up a phone bank and plans to call 10,000 members who can then be patched directly to Miller's office to demand action on legislation that would extend medical coverage to uninsured residents.

State's attorneys push to amend anti-gang bill,0,3073263.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Maryland state's attorneys said yesterday that they would no longer support legislation to strengthen gang prosecution approved by the House of Delegates unless the Senate reinstates key provisions of the bill.

"With the current language, to say that the bang isn't worth the buck, is putting it mildly," said Frank M. Kratovil Jr., the state's attorney for Queen Anne's County and president of the Maryland State's Attorneys' Association. "Without the amendments we are proposing, it's not a reasonable compromise. It's simply not sufficient."

Blair Lee: Miller is right

Maryland has a money problem. It spends more than it makes. Specifically, the states budget is growing at a 10 percent clip while its revenues are only increasing 4 percent. And thats during a good economy.

Barry Rascovar: Marylands perfect storm

Marylands transportation secretary calls it our own little version of a perfect storm expenditures rising faster than inflation, revenues failing to keep up with inflation and a backlog of projects worth a whopping $40 billion.

Legislature wont take up planned rate hikes in 07

Note to Baltimore Gas & Electric ratepayers: Dont expect a reprieve from the General Assembly this year.

A year ago, the State House was in a frenzy over how to cushion giant electricity rate hikes for more than 1 million Marylanders. Lawmakers had no appetite for returning home with ratepayers seething and an election looming.

Passage of any bill that could increase electricity bills is like pouring gasoline on a fire, said Sen. Janet Greenip (R-Dist. 33) of Crofton. And that is evidence that last years mitigation plan was just grandstanding for the election, she said.

I think the General Assembly wants to move forward with changes, but I think we want to make sure it benefits the consumers in the short term and the long term, said Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Stevensville. Energy policy is front and center. ... We need to put the tools in the toolbox, and thats what this year is all about.

Child-witness crime bill may stumble in Senate

Key committee leaders question the proposal and may not bring it to a vote

A measure that would increase punishment for violent crimes committed in front of children has gained ground in the House, but may fail because it lacks key support in the Senate.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Vice Chairwoman Lisa A. Gladden said the bill could get enough votes in that committee to reach the Senate floor.

However, it might not come up for a committee vote, although it passed the House on a 135-0 vote.

Minorities hit hard by subprimes

Foreclosure rates prove higher for Hispanics, African Americans

State officials plan to aggressively enforce existing anti-predatory and anti-discrimination laws to prevent the widespread mortgage defaults that have struck homeowners nationally.

While foreclosures rose 42 percent nationally last year, they fell 12 percent in Maryland, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate information company. They rose 13 percent in January, then dipped 12 percent in February.

Officials defend ground rent bill

Real estate lawyer says 'big loophole' allows new leases,0,5282384.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Legislators are confident that a new law meant to ban the creation of new ground rents accomplishes that goal, despite a Baltimore real estate lawyer's contention that the language contains "a loophole big enough to drive an ocean liner through."

The lawyer, Gregory Reed, says that the emergency bill enacted into law last week permits the creation of new ground leases as long as they aren't "renewable forever."

Miller, Senate put wind at donors back

Powerful advocates push for a looser approval process in bid to develop renewable energy sources

Long-stalled efforts to develop wind-powered turbine fields in Western Maryland have shifted this year to the state capital, where the firepower behind the proposed legislation is potent.

The Senate earlier this week passed a bill that would streamline the public approval process for wind-generating stations, which proponents argue will put Maryland on par with other states that have already invested millions of dollars in renewable energy.

We should not take away the ability of constituents to state their voice on this issue, said Del. Wendell R. Beitzel (R-Dist. 1A) of Accident.

Across the hall, Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Dist. 1) of Grantsville said it isnt proper for the legislature to tinker with the utility review process when it has a direct impact on only one area of the state.

Rookies get an education and an earful

Montgomerys freshman class hits the ground running, learns hard lessons in first term

Last years election has brought a lot of new faces to town.

The Montgomery delegation alone includes 11 new members and one delegate-turned-senator.

It is a group that colleagues and outsiders say is enthusiastic, hardworking, ambitious and incredibly intelligent. And one that some say is breaking all the rules.

Former senator takes Health Department job

Former state senator Paula C. Hollinger has been appointed associate director of health occupations boards and commissions of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, she said Thursday.

After a year off, Follies spare no one

The 2007 edition of the Legislative Follies Annapolis self-ridiculing variety show spared few from mockery and left all good taste at the door on Wednesday night.

Reporters Notebook:

After just nine weeks, pollsters setting OMalleys baseline

Longtime public servants Schaefer and Curran received the Senates First Citizen

Gimme more!

Early targets?

Rarely does a lawmaker get a standing O for offending others on the House floor.

Cha-, cha-, cha-, changes!

Hold that accolade!

Not just for VIPs

Paying respect

Political Notes Talent to bemuse

Senators and delegates, including some of Frederick's finest, took to the stage at St. John's College in Annapolis for this year's Legislative Follies.

Campaign-finance reform bid faces uphill battle in Senate

The Maryland Senate plans to begin work today on a bill to provide public funding for some political candidates who agree to limit private fundraising.

Coastal bays bill pits senator vs. delegate

Stoltzfus, Mathias disagree on dredging ban around OC

Two Worcester County legislators entered a legislative boxing match this week on a bill that would ban hydraulic clam and oyster dredging in the coastal bays around Ocean City, and a vote to determine the victor could come today.

Maryland Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-38-Worcester, and Delegate Jim Mathias, D-38B-Worcester, are in a rare Eastern Shore battle that has pit a senator and a delegate from the same district against each other in an environmental issue that has inconclusive scientific evidence.

Challenge of Gansler was 'too disruptive'

Late lawsuits harm the ballot process, court says,0,4962607.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

An 11th-hour challenge to the eligibility of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to run for that office was dismissed because last-minute lawsuits are "too disruptive" to elections, the state's highest court said yesterday.

The unanimous Court of Appeals opinion says the judges are not considering whether Gansler met the requirements -- a lower court ruled that he did -- because the matter should not have been heard. The opinion elaborates on the court's Nov. 2 order that threw out the case for being filed too late for the Nov. 7 election.

Kweisi Mfume: Power to voters, not special interests

Having run last year for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, I know from firsthand experience that raising money lots of it is crucial for any campaign. In fact money has increasingly become the main factor frequently in deciding who wins and who loses.

Kristen A. Sheeran: Global warming solutions a must for Maryland

Climate change is more than an environmental problem. It is a civilization challenge with the lives of millions of people worldwide at stake.

Senate To Give Final Passage To Intersection Bill

The State Senate today is expected to give final approval to legislation requiring motorists to stop at intersections where an exit ramp of an interstate crosses with another highway, even if the traffic light at the intersection is malfunctioning.

Local casino night bill declared dead

A bill to allow local organizations to hold "casino night" fundraisers will be left for another year.

As the General Assembly heads into its final week, some local legislation such as drug-free zones in Annapolis and compensation for the seizure of property under eminent domain is still alive.

Balto. County to lease new alternative school

District's fifth such facility is to open in the fall,0,540693.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Feeling pressed for time to open a school to help Educate hundreds of chronically disruptive students who are struggling to pass state standardized tests, Baltimore County school officials have approved a $43 million, 30-year lease with a Baltimore real estate firm.

The Secondary Academic Intervention Model School is scheduled to open in the fall at a large business park under construction along the White Marsh Boulevard extension in eastern Baltimore County. A developer began building the 50,000- square-foot school about a month ago.

Homeowners sue to stop the ICC

State awards $479 million contract to build the controversial highways first seven miles

Now that the state has taken some concrete steps toward building the much-maligned Intercounty Connector, yet another lawsuit threatens the construction of the 18-mile highway between Laurel and Gaithersburg.

On Wednesday, the Shady Grove Woods Homeowners Association in Derwood, along with residents Max Sadtler and Connie McKenna, filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court to protect land they say would be used for elevated ramps at the ICCs western entrance in Derwood. Eight residents would lose portions of their back yards to the construction.

National News

Md. House Dems Crow About 2008 Federal Budget

Maryland Democratic delegates proudly "pulled back the curtain" on the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget in a news conference Thursday afternoon, showcasing how it will improve the lives of working families in the state.

Both the Maryland delegation's Republicans, Reps. Roscoe Bartlett of Frederick and Wayne Gilchrest of Kennedyville, voted against the budget bill.

"The Democrats presented a budget with too much spending, no reform, and the largest tax increases in American history," Bartlett said.

Gilchrest said in a statement that "the bill would raise taxes by reversing the lower tax rates implemented in 2001 on investment income, restoring the tax penalty on married couples, and increases the estate tax, known as the 'death tax,' in the next five years."

House approves budget plan

Spending would rise; surplus seen in 2012 if Bush tax cuts expire,0,6160641.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

House Democrats pushed their budget blueprint to passage yesterday, promising a big surplus in five years by allowing tax cuts passed in President Bush's first term to expire.

The plan would increase spending next year for the Pentagon and domestic programs, but defers decisions about growth in federal benefit programs such as Medicare. It would give domestic agencies, on average, budget increases of 6 percent over current levels.

The Maryland delegation voted along party lines, with Democratic Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Chris Van Hollen and Albert R. Wynn supporting the spending plan and Republican Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett and Wayne T. Gilchrest voting against it.

Congressman Bartlett Warns Of A Energy Crisis

Western Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is warning America of a looming energy crisis.

A new report by the Government Accountability Office says it could happen without warning anytime between now and 2040. At some point, scientists say the world will quietly reach the point of maximum oil production, followed by irreversible declines.

Senator asks for report on Md. military medical facilities

Sen. Benjamin Cardin has asked the Pentagon for a "full and thorough" report on Maryland's military medical facilities after a recent tour at Fort Meade left him concerned about their ability to care for wounded soldiers.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Cardin, D-Md., asked for a report on the "capacity to accommodate the needs of wounded and ailing soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan" at Maryland military facilities.

Senate votes for reports on Walter Reed closing

The Senate yesterday voted to require the Defense Department to report to Congress on how it plans to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center and move most of its operations to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda by 2011.

Cardin revives his push to close Oak Hill

Senator says Laurel youth facility is 'disgrace;' suggests relocating center to Washington,0,3517355.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

With a higher-ranking post in Congress and the support of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin reintroduced legislation yesterday to close the Oak Hill Youth Center in Laurel.

Under the legislation, Anne Arundel County and the National Security Agency would split the 900-acre parcel adjacent to Fort Meade and controlled by the District of Columbia. Land on the northern side of the Little Patuxent River would be used as a security buffer abutting the Army post, and the southern side would be designated mostly for parkland.

MD Senators Want DC Kid Jail Out Of Laurel

Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have introduced a bill that would move the District's troubled Oak Hill juvenile detention center to the city from its location in Laurel.

Challenger drafts plan for possible run next year

Activist, lawyers weekly meetings signal likely campaign to oust incumbent

Donna F. Edwards may not be a registered candidate for Congress yet, but she is certainly talking like one.

The Fort Washington activist and lawyer who gave U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Dist. 4) of Mitchellville a run for his money in last years Democratic primary is already discussing what shell do differently this time, as she prepares for a likely rematch.

President Bush Calls On Congress To Pass An Emergency War Spending Supplemental That Funds The Troops Without "Strings On Our Commanders." "'We stand united in saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm's way, we expect that troop to be fully funded,' [the President] said. 'And we've got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders. And that we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money.' ... The administration has said the military needs the money by April 15, and the White House said Thursday that the Pentagon was already having to juggle accounts, shifting money from one program to another to buy more vehicles better able to withstand mines. Dana Perino, the deputy White House spokeswoman, said, 'This, again, underscores the need to get the show on the road, get the bill to the president, he will veto it, and then, we'll take it from there.'" (Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny, "Defying Bush, Senate Passes Iraq Spending Measure," The New York Times, 3/30/07)

Citizens Against Government Waste President Thomas Schatz Says Democrats "Shamelessly Used Pork" To Pass Iraq War Emergency Supplemental. "Behind all their lofty rhetoric about the Iraq war and bringing home the troops, members of the House and Senate were busy tacking on $20 billion and $18.5 billion respectively in unrelated spending to President Bush's $103 billion request. (He intends to veto the bill.) Despite their campaign talk about earmark reform last fall, the new Democratic leadership shamelessly used pork to buy votes before the vote, Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Peter DeFazio of Oregon acknowledged that add-ons for their districts would influence their decisions. The heavyweights also led by example: the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, added $20 million to eradicate Mormon crickets, and David Obey of Wisconsin, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, came away with $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program." (Thomas Schatz, Op-Ed, "Pork Goes To War," The New York Times, 3/30/07)

The Wall Street Journal Says Congressional Handling Of Iraq Funding Shows Why "Congress Can't Be Trusted To Micromanage, Much Less Lead, A War." "Mr. Bush has been warning about his veto for weeks, but Democrats have moved ahead anyway because the vote is really about political theater. Democrats need to appease their antiwar base, and the 'benchmarks' and 'deadline' lingo is the minimum that and friends would accept. ... Meanwhile, the troops on the line are wait ing for their money, and they'll have to wait a while longer. When they return from their holiday, House and Senate leaders will have to 'reconcile' their bills, which could take more weeks. Because the bills are packed with some $21 billion in pork, as well as differing versions of a minimum wage increase, the Members will be fiddling over their domestic priorities rather than financing the war. ... The spectacle qualifies as a textbook example of why Congress can't be trusted to micromanage, much less lead, a war." (Editorial, "Accountability Act," The Wall Street Journal, 3/30/07)

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) Says The "Democrats' Budget Could Bring Economic Growth To An Abrupt End." "The same folks who larded up the emergency war appropriations bill with billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects are at it again. Yesterday House Democrats voted to impose the largest tax hike in American history. ... The president's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are a principal reason the economy has enjoyed an uninterrupted string of monthly employment gains. Tax relief under the Republicans has fueled five straight years of overall growt h and led to enormous capital investment. By coupling tax hikes with their insatiable appetite for political pork, the Democrats' budget could bring economic growth to an abrupt end." (Rep. John Boehner, Op-Ed, "Back To The Future," The Wall Street Journal, 3/30/07)

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