General Assembly coverage

Updated Maryland politics news is now available in our new section

2007 city candidates set

With a mere handful of candidates entering city races, Baltimore's primary election ballot took its final shape after last night's candidacy deadline came and went without surprises.  Read more ...

O'Malley seeking funds for juveniles

Gov. Martin O'Malley is asking the legislature to add $21 million to the budget of Maryland's troubled juvenile services system, including money to open the state's first new residential treatment program for youth offenders in more than a decade, officials said yesterday.  Read more ...

O'Malley backs bill on juvenile staff

Gov. Martin O'Malley is supporting legislation that would force the state to regulate staff training at private residential programs for juvenile offenders, officials said yesterday.  Read more ...

Ground rent bill due final votes

Final votes on a bill that would prohibit the creation of new ground rents, emerging as one of the major issues in this General Assembly session, are scheduled for tomorrow.  Read more ...

Reform aims at youth sites

The state would be required to oversee the training of staff at private residential programs for juvenile offenders such as the Bowling Brook Preparatory School, where a student died last month, under legislation pending in Annapolis.  Read more ...

Ground rent called unjust

Calling the system "fundamentally unfair and unjust," Gov. Martin O'Malley joined a group of state legislators yesterday in supporting new laws to prevent homeowners from losing their houses over unpaid ground rents.  Read more ...

Key death penalty dates

1972: The U.S. Supreme Court invalidates death penalty statutes across the country.  Read more ...

Key legislative issues

Education: During the campaign, Martin O'Malley pledged to limit tuition increases at the state's universities, spend $400 million this year on school construction and fund part of the state's landmark K-12 funding plan that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. skipped. But all that could require some tradeoffs elsewhere as the last stage of the so-called Thornton Plan for education funding is phased in next year, with no dedicated revenue source to pay for it.  Read more ...

Candidates turn to health care

The top Maryland gubernatorial candidates focused on improving the state's health care system yesterday, with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announcing a new program to expand access for the working poor and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley unveiling a plan to attract and retain nurses.  Read more ...

Clear divisions on issues

As they weigh their choice for governor, Maryland voters are divided over which candidate would best handle the issues that matter most to them, a new Sun poll shows.  Read more ...

2006 session issues

Assault weapons ban // The Assembly rejected legislation that would ban the possession and sale of assault weapons. A federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.  Read more ...

The '06 session: looking back

The young guns Dels. Dereck E. Davis of Prince George's County and Peter A. Hammen of Baltimore, the youngest committee chairmen in the legislature, got stuck with two of the toughest issues - BGE rate increases and stem-cell research, respectively. The Democratic chairmen of Economic Matters and Health and Government Operations earned kudos for keeping things orderly, fair and respectful.  Read more ...

Furor over People's Counsel

Many of those on the front lines of the battle over rising electricity costs say one voice has been noticeably absent from the debate - the state's top consumer advocate, the Office of the People's Counsel.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Governor's supporters cool their heels in Annapolis

In Annapolis tradition, legislative committees usually schedule hearings on bills dealing with similar topics on the same day.  Read more ...

Bill honors fallen soldier

Describing the nation's immigration system as inept and indifferent, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings announced legislation they said would streamline the process for soldiers seeking to become U.S. citizens.  Read more ...

Case to show Md. political life

A trial of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell could pull some of the most influential leaders in Annapolis into a courtroom, focusing attention on how relationships between politicians and business leaders - often built through money and favors - can shape the course of legislation and state affairs.  Read more ...

Bromwell was among state's most powerful

In Annapolis, Thomas L. Bromwell invariably sported a huge gold ring he described as "big and gaudy and loud" - much like himself.  Read more ...

Ehrlich counsel calls for GOP right to hire lawyer in personnel probe

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s legal counsel requested yesterday that Republicans on a special committee reviewing the administration's personnel practices have the right to hire their own attorney.  Read more ...

Personnel review panel to have subpoena right

In a day marked by partisan feuding and a sweeping dismissal of GOP concerns, General Assembly leaders voted yesterday to give subpoena power to a special committee examining the governor's personnel practices.  Read more ...

Doctor insurer says malpractice rate increase not needed this year

After two years of hefty premium increases that touched off threats of a doctor exodus in Maryland and led to a legislative special session, the state's largest malpractice insurer said it does not need a rate increase for next year, leading some to question whether the much-debated malpractice crisis ever existed.  Read more ...

Council finds its own voice on hotel

There has been political posturing against a popular mayor. There have been demands for pet projects in exchange for votes. Tempers have flared, muscles have been flexed, and a significant legislative defeat has appeared imminent.  Read more ...

Ehrlich proposes study on personnel law

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. suggested yesterday that the General Assembly abandon its probe into his administration's firing practices and instead work with him on a bipartisan study of state personnel law.  Read more ...

Firing inquiry won't be partisan, say legislators

Legislative leaders repudiated criticism yesterday of their committee to investigate Ehrlich administration personnel practices, saying that the probe is not a partisan exercise but an attempt to ensure the quality of the state work force.  Read more ...

Democrat wants Finney to skip inquiry

In the continuing verbal tussle over an impending legislative investigation into Ehrlich administration personnel practices, a Montgomery County delegate demanded yesterday that the governor's chief counsel recuse himself from the proceedings.  Read more ...

Steele complains of bias in firings-probe panel

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele said yesterday that if legislators the governor considers biased serve on a panel investigating his firing practices, the administration won't cooperate with the panel.  Read more ...

Neighbors describe their daily fears about group home residents

Until the group home moved into her southeastern Baltimore County neighborhood, Dot Horrocks had never felt so afraid. Teenage boys living in the privately run facility have, she said, peeked into her window and exposed themselves from the group home.  Read more ...

Planning panel in Frederick rejects slots ban

FREDERICK - The Frederick County Planning Commission voted Wednesday against a countywide ban on slot machines or slots parlors.  Read more ...

Plans to close Hickey school questioned

Several state legislators and the Baltimore County executive questioned yesterday the Ehrlich administration's surprise plan to close the troubled Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, saying the move poses a potential threat to public safety if the youths are sent home or moved into less-restrictive group homes.  Read more ...

Special Report

Legislator sets hearing on Md. lapses

The chairman of a key legislative panel said yesterday that he will conduct a hearing into security shortcomings at the port of Baltimore, while a top Maryland transportation official said the state would tighten some procedures at the terminals it owns.  Read more ...

Independent monitor of juvenile facilities resigning June 30

An independent monitor whose reports detailing poor conditions and abuse in Maryland's juvenile facilities have embarrassed the Ehrlich administration is resigning effective June 30.  Read more ...

Ehrlich entertains Afleet Alex's entourage, promises slots effort

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. hosted the owners and trainers of Preakness Stakes winner Afleet Alex at the governor's mansion yesterday, pledging to help Maryland's struggling racing industry by continuing to push for slot machines at tracks.  Read more ...

Schaefer tells Ehrlich to get tough to gain slots

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should pound the speaker of the House of Delegates "with a club" to pass an acceptable slots bill and should fire up Baltimore's business community about the need to preserve Maryland horse racing or risk the loss of the Preakness Stakes, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said yesterday.  Read more ...

Activists drop referendum drive targeting vetoed gay rights bills

A Republican delegate and conservative activists have abandoned their drive for a referendum next year on two gay rights bills vetoed by the governor.  Read more ...

Gambling industry puts their money on state lobbyists

Gambling-related businesses continue to hire high-priced Annapolis lobbyists, hoping to position themselves for profits if Maryland legalizes slot machines, disclosure forms showed yesterday.  Read more ...

Busch: Md. must look away from slots

Maryland needs to discuss ways to make horse racing competitive without the legalization of slot machines, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said yesterday, all but ruling out a special session on gambling after meeting with industry officials.  Read more ...

Magna tries slots again

With the Preakness Stakes little more than a week away and the state's ailing horse racing industry commanding fresh attention, the owner of the Pimlico and Laurel tracks plans to meet with Maryland's top leaders today to push for legalizing slot machines.  Read more ...

Hearings planned on group homes

Concerned about the care, spending and staffing in state-licensed children's group homes, lawmakers plan to hold hearings beginning next month on making "significant" changes to the regulation of the privately run facilities.  Read more ...

Mayor says survival of Md. racing tied to slots

A day after attacking Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s leadership on juvenile justice issues, Mayor Martin O'Malley stood yesterday in support of his Republican opponent's signature issue: slots.  Read more ...

Barley viewed as a high-gas-price solution

MARYLAND grain farmers think they have the solution to easing the country's dependence on imported oil and high gasoline prices that are only expected to increase as the summer travel season swings into high gear - a fill-up of fuel made from home-grown barley.  Read more ...

Slots failure hurts presence at Preakness, Ehrlich says

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. fired another round of criticism at the legislative leadership yesterday for failure to pass a slot machine bill, saying the gambling revenue could have helped avoid a decision by the state Board of Public Works to decrease the state's presence at the Preakness.  Read more ...

Lots of time to lay blame, claim credit for no slots

Some form of slot machine gambling legislation passed in the House of Delegates and in the Senate this year - but with the General Assembly session ending last night, slots still were not legal in Maryland, leaving a potent issue on the table for the coming gubernatorial election.  Read more ...

Budget deficit estimated for juvenile agency

Still reeling from recent reports of child abuse at two detention centers, Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Kenneth C. Montague Jr. faces a new round of criticism from legislators and advocates for a fiscal crisis that threatens to further destabilize the juvenile corrections system.  Read more ...

Ethics committee won't probe allegations against Shore legislator, lawyer says

The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics has decided not to investigate allegations that Sen. Richard F. Colburn required a former aide to write college term papers for him, the senator's lawyer said yesterday.  Read more ...

Child-welfare advocates press for reform of Md. DHR

Child-welfare advocates are ramping up efforts to promote reform at the state Department of Human Resources after the release of a legislative audit that documented continuing and serious lapses in the care of nearly 9,000 children living in Maryland's foster homes and group facilities.  Read more ...

Hopes, lobbyists persist for slots passage

Slots may fail in the General Assembly again this year, but lobbyists haven't stopped pushing for them.  Read more ...

Ex-aide to senator files ethics complaint

A former aide to state Sen. Richard F. Colburn has sent a complaint to the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, asking for an investigation into the aide's allegations that he was required to write academic papers and conduct other personal tasks for the senator as part of his job.  Read more ...

By David Nitkin and Ivan Penn

Amid slots debate, a local discourtesy

IN THE Maryland General Assembly, the concept of local courtesy - deferring to lawmakers from one county when an issue affects that area alone - is one of the most respected doctrines. Gambling and slot machines are among the most divisive issues.  Read more ...

Ehrlich uses Laurel visit to press for legalized slots

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plunked down yesterday in front of the Horse Wizard, a video terminal with flashing lights, whistles and beeps that's the closest thing Laurel Park can get to slot machines without a breakthrough in the legislative stalemate in Annapolis.  Read more ...

County seeking to shut out slots

Even as bills to return slot machines to Maryland remain in limbo in the General Assembly, Frederick County - fearful of a House of Delegates plan to put 2,500 of the video lottery terminals inside its borders - is drawing up a local law to keep them out.  Read more ...

By David Nitkin and Andrew A. Green

Concocting a formula for slots passage

SLOTS MAY BE on life support for the third straight legislative session since the election of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., but that isn't preventing some lobbyists and lawmakers from trying to concoct a formula for passage.  Read more ...

State senator withdraws from university amid claims that ex-aide did schoolwork

State Sen. Richard F. Colburn, a Dorchester County Republican who sits on a committee that oversees education issues, has withdrawn from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore amid allegations from a former legislative aide who claims to have written and submitted academic papers on Colburn's behalf.  Read more ...

General Assembly

GOP accuses Democrats of politicizing hiring, firing

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Republican legislators fought back yesterday against charges that the administration has politicized state hiring and firing, saying it is the Democrats who are guilty of abusing the patronage system.  Read more ...

ICC financing plan runs into Assembly snag

The Ehrlich administration's plan for financing construction of the Intercounty Connector highway is in trouble in the General Assembly, with leading legislators questioning its heavy reliance on borrowing.  Read more ...

Compromise is unlikely in slots standoff

With just four weeks left in the legislative session, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller appears to be left with few good options in his bid to wring a compromise on the slot machine gambling bill from his counterpart in the House of Delegates.  Read more ...

Medical malpractice bill OK'd, moves to the House

The state Senate passed a bill last night that would implement a fund to hold down doctors' insurance rates and set limits on malpractice lawsuits.  Read more ...

Sunshine Week

Opening officials' closed doors

Allen Dyer ran into a legal brick wall when he went to court to try to get the Howard County Board of Education to conduct more of the public's business in public. A county Circuit Court judge threw out his lawsuit, saying he didn't have legal standing to sue the school system.  Read more ...

Court hears request regarding gay marriage suit

Lawyers for eight state legislators and a county clerk who oppose same-sex marriage asked the state's highest court yesterday to let their clients become defendants in the hot-button lawsuit filed by couples who want Maryland's ban on gay marriage declared unconstitutional.  Read more ...

Md. court to hear case about gay marriage

Maryland's highest court today will take up the thorny question of whether state legislators and other gay-marriage opponents can become part of the highly charged lawsuit filed by couples who want the state to allow same-sex marriage.  Read more ...

Maryland explores pseudo-slots

Amid a rancorous legislative debate over the prospect of legalizing slot machines, Maryland lottery officials are looking into whether they could license machines that look and play like slots but are legal under current laws.  Read more ...

Duncan to make anti-slots pitch in city

With slot machine legislation heating up in the state legislature, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan heads to Baltimore today to voice his opposition on the home turf of his likely rival in next year's Democratic primary for governor, Mayor Martin O'Malley.  Read more ...

General Assembly

House close to deciding on slots

After killing gambling legislation for two consecutive years, the House of Delegates is poised to vote on a slot machine plan this week, the high point so far in a debate that has embroiled Annapolis since Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s 2002 election.  Read more ...

Bill would ban political gifts by gambling groups

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons renewed yesterday his pitch for a bill to prohibit political donations from gambling interest groups and said that, if necessary, he will propose a ban as an amendment if a slots bill makes it to the House floor for a vote.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Ehrlich's slots plan comes out for Round 3

The arguments were familiar, the characters the same - but the opponents of slot machines were scarce at a hearing yesterday on the latest proposal to legalize slots in Maryland.  Read more ...

Annapolis gearing up for new slots fight

The debate over slot machines in Maryland begins anew this week, when the state Senate launches discussions on the third iteration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s gambling plan.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Horse-racing industry offers revival plan

Creating a unified front to show they could spend slot machine proceeds wisely, Maryland horse-racing industry leaders unveiled a plan yesterday that they said could revive the struggling sport if lawmakers authorize an expansion of gambling.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Redmer lays HMO cost rise to Democrats

Rebuffing partisan calls for his resignation, state Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. defended yesterday his handling of requests from insurers to pass on a recently approved 2 percent HMO tax to consumers, saying he is following the procedure established by his Democrat-appointed predecessor.  Read more ...

Ehrlich links slots bill, school construction

After declaring for months that he would spend no more political capital on the issue, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. restarted his push to legalize slot machines yesterday, this time using the promise of more school construction money to break the legislative logjam that stymied him for the past two years.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Session to revisit debate on gay unions

The national debate over same-sex unions lands squarely in Maryland this month, as legislators and lobbyists mobilize for a series of noisy battles over how gay couples will be treated in the eyes of state law.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Lawmakers override veto on reform bill

The Maryland General Assembly voted yesterday to override Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto of a medical malpractice reform bill, rebuffing an intense lobbying effort by the governor and setting a tense partisan tone for the 90-day session that begins today.  Read more ...

Ehrlich vetoes malpractice legislation

Calling the legislation before him a hollow reform, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed the General Assembly's medical malpractice bill yesterday, an action legislative leaders said they are all but certain to override when they reconvene today.  Read more ...

Physicians urge governor not to veto malpractice bill

After fighting alongside Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for malpractice reform, leaders of the state's doctors and hospitals stepped away from the governor yesterday, urging him not to veto the malpractice bill passed by the General Assembly last week.  Read more ...

Doctors pleased but ask for more

Some Maryland doctors say they welcome as a good start the hastily negotiated legislation passed by the General Assembly last week to rein in malpractice premiums, but they warned that more far-reaching legal reforms would be required to solve an insurance crisis that threatens some physicians' practices.  Read more ...

Ill feelings at the top hobble Md. governing

With a two-day special session of the General Assembly ending in acrimony, the prospects of amicable relations between Maryland's first Republican governor in more than 30 years and a Democrat-controlled legislature are at an all-time low.  Read more ...

Ehrlich has veto ready for bill

Governor talks veto; lawmakers talk override  Read more ...

General Assembly: Special Session

Lawmakers, Ehrlich digging in heels over malpractice subsidy

The opening day of a rare special session of the Maryland General Assembly ended with legislative leaders locked in a showdown with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. over how to subsidize the insurance bills of doctors.  Read more ...

By David Nitkin and Andrew A. Green

No evidence of progress on key issues

PRAGMATISM dictates that Maryland legalizes slot machine next year, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said yesterday in a pre-General Assembly briefing that foreshadowed another year of gridlock on top policy issues facing the state.  Read more ...

Racing executives try to reopen slots issue

Racing executives and other gambling interests made a last-gasp pitch yesterday for putting a plan to legalize slot machines before voters in November, but lawmakers expressed little interest.  Read more ...

In hours, slots plan fell apart

It began with a telephone call last week to New York City while Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was attending the Republican National Convention.  Read more ...

Leaders counting votes on Md. slots

With fresh support from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., State House leaders have launched a last-gasp effort to place a slot-machine referendum on the November ballot and are discussing a plan that would authorize thousands of gambling devices at two sites in Baltimore.  Read more ...

House GOP seeks vote on slots legislation

Republicans in the House of Delegates lashed out at Democratic House Speaker Michael E. Busch yesterday, calling him an obstructionist with questionable motives and asking for an immediate vote on slot-machine legislation.  Read more ...

Ehrlich kills plan for vote on slots

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. rejected a proposal from House Speaker Michael E. Busch yesterday to seek voter approval in November to legalize state-owned slot machine parlors, dousing the flickering hopes for a quick resolution to Maryland's protracted gambling debate.  Read more ...

Md. treasurer supports slot machine referendum

Maryland Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp said yesterday that she backs putting to voters the question of whether the state should legalize slot machines.  Read more ...

Busch to offer bill today for a referendum on slots

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the Maryland Senate president intensified pressure yesterday for legalizing slot machines as House leaders promised to submit plans today for letting voters decide the issue.  Read more ...

Senate probe on Iko is set

State legislators will further investigate the homicide of an inmate at a Western Maryland prison, saying that an Allegany County grand jury inquiry - which exonerated prison staff last week - left many unanswered questions.  Read more ...

No deal yet on fall vote on slot machines

The Ehrlich administration and Maryland House of Delegates leaders failed to strike a deal yesterday for putting a constitutional amendment to legalize slot machine gambling before voters in November.  Read more ...

'97 flaws evident in schools' '04 woes

The flaws in the 1997 law that set up a city-state partnership to run Baltimore's schools might seem crystal-clear in 2004. Even authors of the legislation admit that the system's fiscal woes have exposed its unrealistic expectations and lack of fiscal accountability.  Read more ...

City schools leadership faulted in report

Baltimore school spending spiraled dangerously out of control as a system that lacked strong leadership and oversight tried to respond to pressure for improved academic performance, a state panel reported yesterday.  Read more ...

Md. politicians still at impasse on slots

The impending arrival of up to 61,000 slot machines in neighboring Pennsylvania has yet to break an impasse among Maryland politicians that is preventing an expansion of gambling here.  Read more ...

State's top lawmakers revive talks on slots

The General Assembly's top officers resumed slot-machine discussions yesterday, with House Speaker Michael E. Busch presenting Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller with a memorandum of conditions to be met before gambling is expanded in Maryland.  Read more ...

Gambling lobby led spending during session

Gambling and horse-racing interests spent more than $2.3 million on lobbying and entertainment during this year's legislative session, continuing a blitz to legalize slot machines that began with the election of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.  Read more ...

Summer session for slots talks looks unlikely

The buzz over a possible summer General Assembly session to legalize slot machines through referendum is fading, with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. calling the prospect "a big if," and House Speaker Michael E. Busch saying that gambling talks have stalled.  Read more ...

Compromise closes tax loophole for corporations

Companies that set up out-of-state corporations to avoid Maryland taxes will begin paying at least $38 million a year into state coffers under a bill that will go into effect without Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s signature.  Read more ...

Failed insurance legislation upsets union

Upset over the last-minute, two-vote death of a General Assembly bill that would have extended health insurance to thousands of Marylanders, an international union is targeting state senators in Howard and Anne Arundel counties who voted against the measure. But the effort may have backfired.  Read more ...

Slots foes seeking to derail Nov. vote

Gambling opponents in the House of Delegates are pressuring their leaders to abandon an effort for a fall referendum on slot machines, but House Speaker Michael E. Busch said yesterday that a ballot-box vote could help lawmakers craft the best possible deal for state residents.  Read more ...

Slots summer session backed

Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates would support a summer General Assembly session to authorize a referendum legalizing slot machines if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. backs the plan.  Read more ...

Lacrosse legally belongs to Md.

Adam Lambros tucked a helmet in one arm, but left his stick at home as he witnessed Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. make lacrosse the official team sport of Maryland yesterday.  Read more ...

Ehrlich set to sign bill to expand prisoner drug treatment

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plans to sign legislation today aimed at reducing the state's prison population by expanding drug treatment options, but is still pondering whether to veto a major tax policy shift he first proposed.  Read more ...

By David Nitkin and Larry Carson

Party's stakes exclude slots

MARYLAND lawmakers get a chance to participate this week in the hoopla surrounding the 129th running of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown scheduled for Saturday.  Read more ...

Ehrlich against slots on ballot

Leery of being "jacked around" by political opponents, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that he favors a special session of the General Assembly to address gambling issues but wants lawmakers to pass a slots plan outright rather than authorize a November referendum.  Read more ...

Miller, Busch ponder session to approve slots referendum

Legislative leaders are seriously considering the prospect of a special session of the General Assembly this summer to authorize a November referendum on legalizing slot machine gambling.  Read more ...

Governor urged to sign pay bill

Small businesses would gain if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. allows Maryland to become the first state in the nation with a "living wage" requirement, minority business leaders said yesterday in urging the governor to reconsider a pledge to veto the initiative.  Read more ...

Predator fish ban proposed by state

Maryland natural resources officials proposed a ban on ownership of northern snakeheads yesterday.  Read more ...

Lawmakers say gambling stops here

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Anti-gambling leaders from Maryland met yesterday with their Pennsylvania counterparts, hoping to establish a defensive perimeter against the expansion of gambling in the Mid-Atlantic.  Read more ...

Students ask Ehrlich to not veto tuition cap

University student leaders delivered to the governor yesterday petitions urging him not to carry through with his plan to veto a bill that would cap tuition increases by raising the corporate income tax.  Read more ...

Ehrlich signs 3 business bills

Declaring that Maryland is "open for business," Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed bills yesterday to encourage redevelopment of historic buildings and contaminated former industrial sites and to expand opportunities for small and minority companies.  Read more ...

New law a baby step

HOW TO PUT in perspective the environmental accomplishments of the General Assembly session that ended Monday?  Read more ...

General Assembly Q&A

Here are answers to selected readers' questions about the 2004 session of the Maryland General Assembly, which ended Monday. Sun staffers David Nitkin, Michael Dresser, Kimberly A.C. Wilson, Ivan Penn, Howard Libit, Jon Rockoff and Jon Morgan answered these questions.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Bill would make spammers' e-mail tactics a crime

Last summer, when Del. Brian J. Feldman's campaign e-mail account was hijacked by a spammer who used it to send ads for a pornographic Web site, he was flooded with replies.  Read more ...

Rehiring law's demise likely to end careers

Eight years shepherding Grange Elementary in Dundalk wasn't long enough for Harry Belsinger, and yet one of the Baltimore County school system's most accomplished principals will probably have to leave anyway.  Read more ...

Governor, mayor spin state budget

During a time when government funding is scarce, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley appropriated generous amounts of rhetoric yesterday to spin the state budget.  Read more ...

Ehrlich is planning to veto three bills

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed more than 60 bills into law yesterday but vowed to veto three he regards as too costly - setting the stage for a prickly off-session with lawmakers.  Read more ...

Legislation takes aim at Internet predators

Maryland legislators answered persistent questions about the validity of laws used to prosecute suspected Internet predators this week by passing legislation that makes it a crime to solicit children for sex - even if the "minor" is a police officer posing online.  Read more ...

Tax foe starts challenge to Ehrlich in '06

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s increased fees and taxes are already causing a backlash from one of Maryland's leading anti-tax activists.  Read more ...

Computer disposal bill wins approval

Disposing of old computers, printers, cell phones and other electronics would be less of an environmental hazard if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signs into law a measure approved by the General Assembly.  Read more ...

General Assembly

'Living wage,' but not slots

Maryland lawmakers ended a rancorous 90-day session last night by rejecting expanded gambling for the second straight year and passing legislation that would make the state the first in the nation to guarantee a "living wage" for employees of its contractors - a measure the governor promises to veto.  Read more ...

Winners and losers

During each 90-day General Assembly session, some enhance their stature and some do not. These are some of this session's winners and losers. A caveat: A winner in Annapolis can be a loser come election time, and vice versa.  Read more ...

Legislature approves bills to aid victims of Tropical Storm Isabel

In the final days of the General Assembly session, legislators passed more measures designed to help Tropical Storm Isabel victims and to prevent a repeat of some of the problems they have experienced since the storm.  Read more ...

Juvenile justice reforms approved

The General Assembly approved an extensive but slow makeover of Maryland's juvenile justice system yesterday, in hopes of emulating a lengthy reform effort in Missouri that has lowered recidivism even while cutting costs.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Business costs rise with new Md. laws

As the General Assembly scrambled to finish its work late last night, business interests were tallying their tab: more than a half-billion dollars in possible new taxes, fees and surcharges from a pile of legislation scheduled to go into effect this year.  Read more ...

State budget, 'living wage' await last-minute resolution

With the legislative session in its final day today, dozens of bills remain and some risk dying if differences aren't resolved by the Senate and House of Delegates before the balloons and confetti fall at midnight to mark the session's end.  Read more ...

Busch may press for slots on ballot

Plans to expand gambling in Maryland this year are expected to die when the General Assembly adjourns tomorrow at midnight, but a few final twitches may shake Annapolis until then.  Read more ...

Lawmakers compromise on 'flush tax'

State Senate and House negotiators made a breakthrough on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s so-called "flush tax" yesterday, agreeing to impose a fee on septic system owners in addition to the surcharge on sewer bills the governor proposed.  Read more ...

Helmet-use proposal awaits its fate in House

Motorcyclists and safety advocates are watching to see what will become of a bill that would essentially repeal the state's motorcycle helmet law.  Read more ...

Issue will return next year

For the second year in a row, slots foes appear to have beaten back a deep-pocketed gambling industry's efforts to expand in Maryland.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Ehrlich, Miller set to give up on slots

The likelihood of legalizing slot machines grew bleak yesterday as the state's two chief slots supporters, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, said they were ready to give up if no deal is reached today with House Speaker Michael E. Busch.  Read more ...

Vehicle tag fee increase passes Maryland Senate

Marylanders will be paying more to register their vehicles as a result of legislation passed in the Senate today by a 29-18 vote.  Read more ...

House panel OKs small-business bill

In the face of intense lobbying by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and minority business leaders, a House committee passed legislation yesterday that would direct 10 percent of all state contracting dollars to small businesses.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Busch endorses special session for lawmakers

Frustrated by the governor's unwillingness to discuss significant sources of revenues other than gambling, House Speaker Michael E. Busch suggested yesterday that keeping all 188 lawmakers in session beyond the General Assembly's scheduled adjournment Monday might help forge a compromise to Maryland's budget needs.  Read more ...

Senate on verge of sewer fee OK

The Maryland Senate showed strong support yesterday for a broadened version of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal to impose a $2.50 per month charge on Marylanders' water and sewer bills - decisively rejecting an attempt to relieve septic system owners of the same burden.  Read more ...

City House delegation in dispute on issues

At a time when Baltimore's delegation in the House would seem to need a united front as important deals are cut on everything from budgets to taxes in the legislature's waning days, there is instead a growing divide.  Read more ...

Brownfields reform bill wins approval in House

With a 137-0 House vote, the General Assembly gave final approval yesterday to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s brownfields redevelopment reform bill.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Slots-vs.-taxes stalemate going down to wire

Pro-gambling lawmakers scrambled yesterday to assemble a significant tax package that could win approval from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and free the administration's slots bill for a long-sought vote in the House of Delegates.  Read more ...

Cecil board votes against slots in county

ELKTON - Reversing a vote taken last month, the Cecil County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 last night to oppose casino-style slots in their county.  Read more ...

Senate approves measure to require 'living wage'

The state Senate voted yesterday to require most state contractors to pay their employees at least $10.50 an hour, but the governor opposes the so-called "living wage" bill and even supporters doubt its chances of becoming law.  Read more ...

Senate's 'flush tax' bill to go to floor today

Senate Democrats plan to bring Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposed sewer bill surcharge to the floor of the Senate today in spite of a disagreement with the governor over their plan to apply an equivalent fee to septic systems.  Read more ...

Panel passes vehicle tag rise

A Senate committee decided yesterday to go along with the House of Delegates' version of a transportation revenue bill, leaving Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. well short of his goal of raising $300 million a year for roads and mass transit projects.  Read more ...

Senate to vote on living-wage proposal today

A decade ago, Baltimore became the first city in the nation requiring municipal service contractors to pay their workers a living wage. More than 100 other cities and counties - including Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Detroit - have followed suit.  Read more ...

Ehrlich, Hollinger work to salvage 'flush tax'

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and a leading Democratic senator have reached a tentative agreement that could salvage the governor's No. 1 environmental initiative, the lawmaker said last night.  Read more ...

Ehrlich plan for agency assailed

Democratic lawmakers say Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should wait until next year to establish his proposed Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, a stance that could set back one of his policy priorities.  Read more ...

Reform opened door to crisis

Before Baltimore's schools were on the verge of insolvency and Mayor Martin O'Malley and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. were vying for the role of savior, no one saw the school system's financial problems as his to solve.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Assembly may miss deadline for Md. budget

The stalemate in Annapolis hardened yesterday as Senate leaders said there's no point in talking to their counterparts in the House of Delegates until Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch strike a deal over slots, spending and taxes.  Read more ...

House panel approves tax credit extension

A House committee approved yesterday the extension of a tax credit that has played a vital role in the revitalization of Baltimore -- but only after limiting the city to 50 percent of the benefits over the next three years.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Delegates hint deal with slots and taxes

In a day of high political drama, leaders in the House of Delegates all but offered yesterday to pass Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s cherished slots initiative if he would bend on their proposed tax increases. Ehrlich, however, promptly rejected the offer and dared the legislature to kill the slots bill immediately rather than link it with higher levies.  Read more ...

State tax package gets mixed reviews

At first glance, Jeff Hazard would seem to be a tailor-made opponent of the $670 million tax increase that cleared the state House of Delegates last week.  Read more ...

Unborn victims bill postponed in Senate

Maryland won't be enacting this year its own version of the federal Laci and Conner Law, which would have created additional charges for someone who harms a pregnant woman and her fetus.  Read more ...

Fee on septic tank users endangers Ehrlich's 'flush tax'

The centerpiece of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s environmental program appears to be in danger of collapse over the inclusion of a $2.50 fee that would be levied on about 420,000 septic tank users.  Read more ...

All gambling issues on table, except one

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and top administration officials told a key House committee yesterday that they are willing to bend on virtually every aspect of their gambling plan except the one that might be most crucial to House Democratic leaders: increasing taxes.  Read more ...

Senate pursues drugs plan

The Maryland Senate took a step yesterday toward helping thousands of residents buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, granting preliminary approval to legislation requiring state health officials to seek federal permission for an importation plan.  Read more ...

House to debate proposal on health care expansion

The House of Delegates will debate today a sweeping health care initiative that would be partly funded by a new tax on HMO premiums after the bill was approved by a key committee yesterday.  Read more ...

Senate approves bill on counterfeiting

The state Senate gave preliminary passage to a bill yesterday that would make it a felony to counterfeit checks, letters of credit or other negotiable notes.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Governor, officials to make slots case to key committee

As Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. makes a public appeal for legalizing slots today to the House Ways and Means Committee, he must go beyond simply convincing delegates that new gambling revenues are crucial to Maryland's fiscal future.  Read more ...

Tax plan may cost speaker at home

For more than a decade, Anne Arundel County voters - once a reliably liberal bloc - have grown increasingly conservative, especially in their distaste for taxes.  Read more ...

Ehrlich signs Isabel bill

Ehrlich signs Isabel bill

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed a bill yesterday creating a low-interest loan program for Marylanders who still need financial help to rebuild homes damaged by Tropical Storm Isabel, and he announced that his administration will quickly process applications for the aid.  Read more ...

House approves medical-decisions bill

The Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved yesterday a proposal that would open the way for adults in committed relationships to share life-or-death decisions by registering on a state database.  Read more ...

House OKs bill to ease rises in college tuition

The House of Delegates voted last night to rein in double-digit tuition increases at Maryland's public universities by raising the corporate income tax and devoting the increased revenue to higher education.  Read more ...

Treatment groups see windfall from slots

As the battle over casino-style gambling heats up in Maryland, an unlikely group is waging its own behind-the-scenes scramble for a piece of the action.  Read more ...

Senate ponders voting receipts

As the Senate considers passage tonight of legislation that would require the state's new electronic voting machines to produce paper records of cast ballots, bill opponents warn that a paper trail could jeopardize the validity of future elections and violate the secrecy of ballots cast by blind voters.  Read more ...

Pro-slots forces rally pre-hearing support

Maryland's pro-slots forces are trying to whip up public support in anticipation of Tuesday's hearing on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s gambling bill, planning to showcase horsemen, union workers and Republicans.  Read more ...

General Assembly

House OKs tax plan, narrowly

The Maryland House of Delegates narrowly approved a $670 million sales- and income-tax package last night that ranks among the largest in state history, but Democrats leading the effort failed to garner enough votes to overturn a veto promised by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.  Read more ...

The Assembly's man in front of the train

When a phalanx of lobbyists descended on Annapolis with the $1.3 billion proposal to sell Maryland's Blue Cross and Blue Shield to a California-based, for-profit corporation, Michael E. Busch was among the first lawmakers to raise a stink.  Read more ...

State should answer siren call of slots, taxes

THE CREDIT card companies are making eyes at me again. Bank One whispers seductive interest rates in my ear. Wachovia Securities offers to show me the world. Union Plus shows up, flowers in hand, to make its own sweet pitch. Their mailings have all arrived this week. Around my house, we have a name for three credit card offers in one week. We call it a Slow Week.  Read more ...

Schaefer enters into $88 million battle

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is battling a legislative measure that he estimates would cost the state $88 million by providing an amnesty period for companies that have sent profits to Delaware in order to avoid Maryland taxes.  Read more ...

Excise tax approved by panel in House

A key vote by a House of Delegates committee yesterday advanced a plan by Howard County Executive James N. Robey to generate more school construction money from a dedicated tax on new homes.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Busch tax plan moves forward in 1st key test

A $670 million tax plan proposed by House Speaker Michael E. Busch cruised through its first crucial test last night, as Democrats in the House of Delegates easily rebuffed Republican efforts to derail the proposal.  Read more ...

Firms scout sites for slots facilities

The wait for a House committee vote on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s slots proposal hasn't dampened interest among casino companies in getting involved in Maryland.  Read more ...

Bill alters regulations for nursing scholarship

A bill introduced yesterday in the Maryland General Assembly seeks to help some of the hundreds of nursing students turned away from Maryland schools each year by allowing them to use a state scholarship at out-of-state schools.  Read more ...

Dorchester voters may get slots issue

The on-again, off-again debate over permitting slot machines in Cambridge might be decided by Dorchester County voters in the November election.  Read more ...

House OKs bill to grant illegal immigrants in-state tuition

A bill to grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at public colleges and universities received preliminary approval in the House of Delegates yesterday despite being criticized by one lawmaker by who called the proposal "fundamentally wrong."  Read more ...

General Assembly

Slots prey on weakest, foes warn Assembly

Expanded gambling will prey on Maryland's poor and most vulnerable citizens, threatening catastrophe for some of the state's most economically depressed communities, slot machine opponents warned a House committee yesterday.  Read more ...

Miller views Busch tax plan as likely loser

The leader of the Maryland Senate yesterday declared a $670 million House of Delegates tax proposal doomed unless it achieves an improbable veto-proof House vote this week, while House Speaker Michael E. Busch promised a unified Democratic push to convince voters of the plan's merits.  Read more ...

General Assembly

City police say liquor bill would limit power

Baltimore police say a bill backed by several city senators would severely hinder efforts to crack down on problem social clubs and bars that cater to drug dealers and other criminals.  Read more ...

Foes say tax rise would hurt Md.

Business groups are howling about the tax increases proposed by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, predicting that the package would send more consumers out of state to buy goods and hurt Maryland's ability to attract new businesses.  Read more ...

House committee abolishes 5% snack tax

At the urging of the Harford County delegation, the House Ways and Means Committee has eliminated a 5 percent snack tax from its proposed budget bill.  Read more ...

Governor proposes funds restoring aid to disabled adults

A suspended state program that provides temporary cash assistance to disabled adults could be restored if lawmakers approve a $13 million supplement the governor proposed yesterday for the 2005 budget.  Read more ...

Delegates pass bill to close Del. corporate tax loophole

The long arm of state government could soon reach into Delaware, where businesses have for years been avoiding sending profits to avoid Maryland taxes. The House of Delegates passed a bill yesterday that would shut down the so-called Delaware holding company tax shelter. The Senate passed a similar bill last week.  Read more ...

Busch pushes tax alternative on slots, budget

House Speaker Michael E. Busch rammed a $670 million tax package through two committees in the House of Delegates yesterday, brushing aside a threatened veto from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and concerns from conservative members of his own party.  Read more ...

Busch, Democrats gambling on sales tax issue

House Speaker Michael E. Busch is no fan of slot machines, but he's making a calculated gamble that he can make a nuanced case in favor of higher taxes in an age of bumper-sticker politics and 30-second attack ads.  Read more ...

Assault weapons ban stalls in Senate

A proposed state ban on assault weapons appears doomed this year in Annapolis -- unless the sponsor pursues an unusual parliamentary maneuver.  Read more ...

Steele asks ministers to aid budget fight

Calling a proposed budget amendment a "direct affront" to the Ehrlich administration's efforts to help religious groups obtain grants for social programs, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele urged a gathering of ministers in West Baltimore yesterday to rally their congregations against the measure.  Read more ...

Panel approves giving unborn legal status

Maryland is a step closer to enacting a state version of the proposed Laci and Conner federal law, after a Senate committee approved a bill yesterday to outlaw bringing intentional harm to an unborn child.  Read more ...

By David Nitkin and Ivan Penn

No shell game, Pipkin says

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin made millions of dollars as a junk-bond trader in New York before cashing in and returning to Maryland and a spacious home in Queen Anne's County.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Busch to call for tax boost

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch plans to ask Democrats in the House of Delegates today to endorse increases in the sales tax and income tax on wealthy residents, a long-term budget-balancing strategy that would put them on a collision course with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the state Senate with just three weeks to go in the legislative session.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Lawmaker targets video bingo machines

An anti-slots legislator says he will seek to amend a budget bill that is up for a vote today to freeze the number of electronic video gambling devices in commercial bingo halls at the current level.  Read more ...

Police probe clash between delegates, lobbyists

Police are investigating a confrontation yesterday in the House of Delegates' office building in Annapolis between immigration-rights lobbyists and two Baltimore-area lawmakers who are leading efforts to clamp down on undocumented immigrants.  Read more ...

House Republican caucus pushes for a vote on slots

Almost a decade ago, they united against slots, a 41-member caucus vowing to oppose gambling legislation in the Maryland General Assembly.  Read more ...

Open-meetings reform bill hits resistance

To balance its budget and avoid layoffs without a tax increase, Anne Arundel County government should consider eliminating 133 vacant positions, according to a recent consultant's report.  Read more ...

Bill to impose Harford impact fee for schools advances

A bill in the General Assembly that would allow the Harford County Council to impose an impact fee of up to $10,000 on new homes to pay for school construction faced no opposition yesterday during a hearing in the House Economic Matters Committee.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Ocean Downs lobbies for slots

Owner William Rickman Jr. is furiously working to get his Ocean Downs harness racing track put back into the General Assembly's slots legislation, meeting with lawmakers and people living near the track in his quest to secure expanded gambling for the Eastern Shore facility.  Read more ...

Bill to limit access to snacks in school fails

The exhale of freshly opened soda cans and the crinkle of potato chip bags will continue to drift along the hallways of Maryland's public schools after legislation aimed at tightening access to high-fat snacks and sugary sodas died yesterday in the state Senate.  Read more ...

Budget that includes 5% tax on snacks gets Senate's tentative OK

The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval yesterday to a $23.6 million state budget despite complaints from Republicans that a $159 million tax package used to balance it is excessive and unnecessary.  Read more ...

Ehrlich upbeat about legislative agenda

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. gave an upbeat assessment of the state of his legislative agenda yesterday, but warned lawmakers about "very troublesome" attempts by the General Assembly to encroach on executive powers.  Read more ...

New spin on gambling debate: Are those bingo machines slots?

In what could signal the start of a video gambling gold rush in Maryland, an Anne Arundel bingo hall operator is seeking permission from the county to put devices that are virtually indistinguishable from slot machines into his establishment.  Read more ...

Inmate treatment plan criticized

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s ambitious proposal to provide drug treatment, counseling and education so prison inmates can start productive lives in their communities is not ready for statewide rollout, key General Assembly members said yesterday.  Read more ...

Bill takes aim at sweet, fatty foods in schools

As studies show an alarming increase in obesity among America's youth, and even McDonald's has been pressured to phase out its super-size fries, a Maryland lawmaker is trying to tighten access to high-fat snacks and sugary sodas in the state's schools.  Read more ...

House panels alter transportation bill

Two House committees approved an increase in the state's vehicle registration fees yesterday, but excised other key revenue-producing components, including surcharges on fines for moving violations and drunken driving.  Read more ...

House OKs bill to curb spending by governor

The House of Delegates voted by a veto-proof majority yesterday to curb the power of the governor and Board of Public Works to cut state spending outside the session without General Assembly involvement.  Read more ...

Assembly ethics panel rebukes senator over conflict of interest

Members of the General Assembly's ethics committee admonished Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. yesterday not to sponsor legislation involving his employer's clients after disclosures revealed that he introduced half a dozen bills related to businesses his law firm represents.  Read more ...

Bill to license abortion clinics seems near death

A proposal to license and regulate clinics that perform abortions in Maryland appears all but dead in the legislature this year, according to a sponsor of the bill now before the state Senate.  Read more ...

Slots debate divides Dorchester County

CAMBRIDGE -- If state Sen. Richard F. Colburn was hoping for a consensus about whether to legalize slot machines here or anywhere else in Dorchester County, he didn't get it yesterday at a hastily called public hearing.  Read more ...

By Howard Libit and Greg Garland

Democrats cry foul over GOP tactic

REPUBLICAN efforts to force lawmakers to vote on the day's hot-button social issues are running afoul of what Democratic leaders describe as the unwritten rules of the General Assembly.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Agency's slots role clouded by audit

A scathing audit of the Maryland Stadium Authority could have broader repercussions as the debate over legalizing casino-style gambling shifts to the House of Delegates, some legislators say.  Read more ...

House panel approves broad bill to clean up bay

A House committee approved sweeping legislation yesterday to clean up the Chesapeake Bay after Republican and Democratic legislators compromised on a controversial charge on septic systems.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Howard teen-agers testify for bone marrow bill they conceived

Howard teen-agers testify for bone marrow bill they conceived

Wending their way into a crowded Maryland House of Delegates hearing room yesterday, the four 16-year-olds were worried they'd face tough questions from legislators.  Read more ...

Panel hears testimony on closing Rosewood

Institutionalized for years because of her cerebral palsy and inability to speak, Missy Perrott used her computer to talk for her as she testified before a House of Delegates committee yesterday in Annapolis.  Read more ...

Senate committee hears testimony for regulating choice of guardians

Holding up a form used to adopt stray dogs, Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy told state legislators yesterday that the standards to adopt a pet in Maryland are more stringent than to gain guardianship of an abused child.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Group urges vigilance in lead poisoning fight

The number of child lead poisoning cases has declined precipitously in Maryland in recent years, but residents of older homes must remain vigilant, the head of an advocacy and outreach group warned yesterday.  Read more ...

Abortion regulation bills face tight votes

Proposals to license and regulate clinics that perform abortions are facing tight committee votes in the Maryland Senate, with the decisions hanging on Howard County Republican Sandra B. Schrader, who has been viewed as a moderate on the issue.  Read more ...

Senate panel hears testimony on 11 bills tied to Isabel damage

Advocates for victims of Tropical Storm Isabel argued yesterday in favor of a Senate bill that would require the state's insurance commissioner to regulate the conduct of flood insurance agents and adjusters, a move they said could immediately help those still recovering from the September storm.  Read more ...

Schools seek change in education reform

Several school systems in the state are seeking modification of the requirement that they provide full-day kindergarten for all children by 2007, a costly element of a landmark education reform plan passed two years ago that Maryland's schools chief says is "an issue of equity."  Read more ...

Ehrlich urges panel to give 2nd chance to criminal justice bill legislators killed

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wants a second shot at a scuttled bill that would have increased the penalties when witnesses or victims are intimidated.  Read more ...

Letter from Annapolis

Lke a weatherman, his forecasts can brighten a day

For days now, one man in this town has been sweating over how much money our budget-conscious state has to spend.  Read more ...

Hearing called on business recruiting

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said yesterday he plans to hold a hearing to ask Department of Business and Economic Development officials about spending to recruit companies to move to or expand in Maryland.  Read more ...

Girl's death spurs bill

In response to the torture death of Ciara Jobes, a 15-year-old Baltimore girl who was allegedly killed by her mentally ill guardian, state legislators are introducing a bill this week that aims to regulate who can be awarded permanent custody of abused and neglected children.  Read more ...

As others race to opt out, Cecil embraces slots bill

PERRYVILLE - As community after community scrambles to keep from being one of the potential sites for a casino-style slots den, leaders in the Northeast Maryland county of Cecil say they would welcome the devices if the state chooses to legalize them.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Transportation plan by Ehrlich in trouble

Some of Maryland's leading urban legislators are vowing to oppose Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s $320 million-a-year proposal to raise money for transportation projects unless he corrects what they perceive as a tilt away from mass transit and toward building roads.  Read more ...

Ehrlich, mayor nearing a deal on city schools

An agreement is near that would prevent teacher layoffs or salary reductions for the remainder of the school year while still advancing state money for a bailout of city schools, Maryland legislative leaders said yesterday.  Read more ...

Piscataway Conoy continues tribal-status effort

Their bid for state recognition as an Indian tribe has been rejected by two governors in a row.  Read more ...

Bill would downsize juvenile facilities

The big detention centers at the heart of Maryland's juvenile justice system, troubled for decades by abuse, mismanagement and a legacy of repeat offenders, would gradually give way to smaller, gentler facilities under a package of proposed reform bills.  Read more ...

Septic systems may be included in sewer bill

Pushing aside the misgivings of the Ehrlich administration, legislative leaders said yesterday that they plan to make homeowners with septic systems pay the same surcharge to protect the Chesapeake Bay as those on public sewer systems.  Read more ...

House panel weighing balloon-release ban

They are a familiar sight at car dealerships: helium balloons bobbing from strings tied to mirrors and windshield wipers.  Read more ...

Ehrlich won't tie tax increase to delegates' passage of slots

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ruled out yesterday linking a major tax increase to House of Delegates passage of slot machine legislation, even if it means the failure for a second straight year of his effort to expand gambling in Maryland.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Tax package sought before slots approval

The chairwoman of the House committee that oversees gambling said yesterday that she will not permit slots legislation to move forward unless Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. agrees to a tax package of at least $500 million - a demand that could prove insurmountable.  Read more ...

Governor seeks rewriting of energy bill

The Ehrlich administration called yesterday for a radical rewriting of a bill sponsored by House Speaker Michael E. Busch that would encourage greater use of "clean" energy sources, contending that it could raise rates in its current form.  Read more ...

Cheaper-medicine bill has powerful foes

The Bush administration and Maryland pharmacists are staging a public relations campaign aimed at scuttling a state Senate proposal that would help state employees, retirees and Medicaid recipients buy lower-price prescription drugs from Canadian mail-order pharmacies.  Read more ...

Ehrlich measure would create powerful city school authority

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he will propose legislation as early as today to create a Baltimore school authority that could have broad powers to dissolve union contracts and cut employee pay before the end of the school year.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Senate panel approves Philbrick

Kendl P. Philbrick, who a year ago was being portrayed as a "nightmare" for conservationists, won the unanimous approval of a Senate committee last night for confirmation as Maryland's secretary of the environment.  Read more ...

Prince George's head doesn't want slots

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson called on the House of Delegates last night to remove his jurisdiction from the sites eligible for slot machines, saying he wants to avoid it becoming "the gambling mecca of the Washington Metropolitan area."  Read more ...

Historic tax credit's fate could alter site's future

SILVER SPRING - The roof of the English castle has caved in, the blue paint of the Dutch windmill is flaking and two of the marble horses in the Italian fountain are headless on the deserted campus where the daughters of Washington's elite once strolled.  Read more ...

Proposal tackles law on gun locks

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants to loosen Maryland's pioneering gun-lock requirement, a measure enacted four years ago over the objections of Italian gun-maker Beretta, which has a U.S. headquarters in Miller's district.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Senate is set for final vote on slots legislation today

Slot machine supporters in the Maryland Senate beat back a series of efforts to hamper legislation to expand gambling in the state, setting the stage for a final vote on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s heavily amended measure this morning.  Read more ...

Rickman in position to benefit from slots

Despite almost daily changes to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal to legalize slots, one person always seems to be coming out with a piece of the slots pie: William Rickman Jr.  Read more ...

Ehrlich to introduce his plans for state minority business program

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is scheduled to unveil his long-awaited plan to revamp the state's Minority Business Enterprise Program today with a series of executive orders and legislation that will set aside as much as 10 percent of major state procurement contracts for minority and small firms, officials said.  Read more ...

Delegate urges probe of agency's process on contract

An influential lawmaker has asked the state attorney general's office to investigate whether there had been any "illegal activities" in the Maryland Department of Transportation's handling of a $43 million contract award for van and cab services for the disabled.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Ehrlich shoring up slots support

With the Maryland Senate scheduled to begin this morning what promises to be a contentious debate on slots legislation, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his top advisers are working furiously to win support from his fellow Republicans for the centerpiece of his solution to the state's fiscal crisis.  Read more ...

Slots are talk of the town in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE - This picturesque town along the Choptank River has a gleaming new Hyatt hotel, an up-and-coming arts district and high hopes for the infusion of cash that tourists are beginning to bring.  Read more ...

City and state at an impasse over schools

After hours of brainstorming and bickering, city and state leaders could not agree yesterday on a plan that would clear the way for the beleaguered Baltimore school system to receive millions of dollars in state assistance.  Read more ...

Same-sex marriage issue divides committee

Measures that would reaffirm marriage in Maryland as valid only between a man and a woman sharply divided a House committee yesterday.  Read more ...

Disclosure of donations to bay-restoration fund proposed

The Ehrlich administration moved yesterday to allay opposition to its plan for a voluntary Chesapeake Bay restoration fund by proposing to require that donations to the program be disclosed.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Slots measure passes Senate budget panel

After its second major rewrite of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s gambling proposal in less than a week, a Senate committee approved last night a plan to permit 15,500 slot machines at three racetracks and three tourist destinations in Maryland.  Read more ...

The swing voter on a heated issue

State Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr., who has a 25-year-old shotgun at home and a framed portrait behind his desk of himself with President Bill Clinton at the signing of the Gun Control Act of 2000, won't be re-elected.  Read more ...

Smith seeks to toughen state law regarding flood insurance carriers

After complaining for two months that the Maryland Insurance Administration should do more to help Tropical Storm Isabel victims, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. is now pushing for a change in state law that he says would force the agency to more aggressively police flood insurance carriers.  Read more ...

Flanagan clashes with key legislator at Mobility hearing

In an angry confrontation reminiscent of a Capitol Hill hearing, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan charged a key lawmaker with politicizing his department's efforts to improve van and cab services for disabled Baltimore-area residents.  Read more ...

Head of House panel assails BWI bid

The chairman of a state legislative committee that oversees financing for Baltimore-Washington International Airport criticized yesterday the approach for selecting a new concession operator there, the latest in a chorus of criticism that has slowed the process.  Read more ...

Study aims to fend off rise in Md. business tax

The state Chamber of Commerce released yesterday a study on taxation to help persuade lawmakers not to raise business taxes and to counter perceptions from a recent national study - done by the same consultant - that showed Maryland is a low-tax state for businesses.  Read more ...

Q&A with Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch

As the speaker in the Maryland House of Delegates, Michael E. Busch continues to be the most visible opponent to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal to legalize slot machines around the state.  Read more ...

One way or another, you'll pay more to Md.

The long arm of state government is about to reach into your wallet, as lawmakers and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. debate whether to add a few cents to your restaurant bills, grab a bigger slice of your weekly paycheck or boost payments for car registrations.  Read more ...

General Assembly

Senate GOP could reject bill on slots

The quick movement of slots through the Maryland Senate hit a speed bump yesterday, as Senate Republicans threatened to kill Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s legislation if it is amended to permit expanded gambling near Ocean City.  Read more ...

Proposal targets Rosewood Center

A Prince George's County delegate is sponsoring legislation to move ahead with the closure of the Rosewood Center in Owings Mills, despite a recommendation from the state health department to wait.  Read more ...

More General Assembly coverage

Archived stories on the legislative session and related issues.  Read more ...

2003 General Assembly coverage

Archived stories on the legislative session.  Read more ...

O'Malley rumor controversy

Sun coverage of events surrounding infidelity rumors spread by former Ehrlich associate Joseph F. Steffen Jr. about Mayor Martin O'Malley.  Read more ...

Medical malpractice reform

Archived coverage of state leaders' efforts to reduce doctors' insurance rates.  Read more ...

Ehrlich ban on Sun journalists

Archived coverage of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s memo ordering government staff not to speak with State House Bureau Chief David Nitkin or former columnist Michael Olesker.  Read more ...

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