Assembly panel OKs Verizon settlement
A House of Delegates committee has unanimously approved a bill directing state regulators to approve an agreement with Verizon about delayed repairs and deregulation of some bundled telephone services. The settlement, negotiated by Verizon, the Maryland Public Service Commission staff and the Office of the People's Counsel, calls for the company to pay $1 million to customers with repair complaints, increase some fees and lower others for regional telephone service, and deregulate some bundled products. Commissioners have heard testimony but have not issued an order about the settlement agreement. The Office of the People's Counsel, which represents consumers, opposed the bill because the decision to accept the agreement should be made by the PSC, said Theresa Czarski, deputy people's counsel.
Liz F. Kay
Shore Bancshares stock falls 23%
Shares of Easton-based Shore Bancshares Inc. declined 23 percent Friday, a day after the company said that it plans to return $25 million in financial assistance it received from the federal government. The holding company for three Eastern Shore banks said it applied to return the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, saying the public wrongly views companies as weak if they accept public funds. The company's chief executive officer said Shore Bancshares has sufficient access to capital. At least four other lenders have applied to give back money they received from the Treasury's bank bailout fund, pointing to TARP restrictions as well as the public stigma. Shore Bancshares stock fell $4.91 to close at $16.26 Friday - the second-largest percentage point decline on Nasdaq for the day.
Staff and news services
Appeals court upholds Md. funeral home rules
RICHMOND, Va. : Maryland's restrictions on funeral home ownership serve a worthy goal of protecting the public and do not excessively impair interstate commerce, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Baltimore judge's ruling that the Maryland Morticians and Funeral Directors Act violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The panel also affirmed U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett's finding that the law does not violate the due process and equal protection clauses. Maryland law limits funeral home ownership to licensed funeral directors and the holders of 58 corporate licenses that were issued more than 60 years ago. Four plaintiffs who wanted to get into the funeral home business contended that the law unconstitutionally stifles competition.
Osiris stock falls 21% over clinical trial
Columbia-based Osiris Therapeutics Inc. fell 21 percent in Nasdaq trading Friday after the company, pointing to "a design flaw," ended enrollment in a trial evaluating its Prochymal treatment for Crohn's disease. Osiris fell $3.90 to close at $14.40 in what was the fifth-largest percentage decline on Nasdaq yesterday. Osiris decided to end enrollment in the study at 210 patients because it "believes there is a design flaw in the trial resulting in significantly higher than expected placebo response rates," the company said Friday.
Atlanta bank, Omni, is 21st to fail this year
NEW YORK : Regulators shut down Omni National Bank in Atlanta Friday, marking the 21st failure this year of a federally insured bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the bank, which had $980 million in assets as of Dec. 31. The bank had branches in Atlanta and Dalton, Ga.; as well as Chicago; Tampa, Fla.; Houston; and Dallas. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said losses depleted the bank of most of its capital and it would have been unable to recapitalize itself without government assistance.