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The Week's Winners and Losers


Purple Line advocates: Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) included in his spending proposal $100 million for engineering and design of the Purple Line, a proposed light-rail or rapid-bus link between Metro stops in Bethesda and New Carrollton. Washington area lawmakers cheered the announcement of the funding at a midday pep rally outside the State House in Annapolis. But not everyone is overjoyed: The Purple Line is controversial in eastern Montgomery. Some residents fear the transit link would seriously damage neighborhoods and parks.

Duncan Foes: Montgomery library activists opposed to naming the new Rockville regional library after former county executive Douglas M. Duncan won their fight this week when County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) decided in their favor. He said Duncan was worthy of the honor, but cited a technicality -- a policy that requires an elected official to be out of office for at least five years before a public facility is named in his or her honor. Duncan has been out only about a year. The activists said Duncan was actually an obstacle to the library's development.

Montgomery Students: Leggett this week mentioned in passing on a radio call-in show that he had reversed his effort to end free county bus rides for schoolchildren as part of an effort to overcome a budget shortfall -- a victory for students and their parents. If Leggett hadn't changed course, the County Council likely would have overturned the proposal anyway.


Gov. Martin O'Malley (D): Two polls, from Gonzales Research & Marketing and the Baltimore Sun, showed a precipitous drop in O'Malley's popularity since he led lawmakers to pass $1.4 billion a year in new taxes to address a potential budget shortfall. The Gonzales poll, for example, put O'Malley's job approval at 39 percent among Maryland voters, down 7 percentage points since October. O'Malley downplayed the results, but unveiled initiatives that might re-build support with working families. For more, see this story by Ovetta Wiggins and John Wagner.

The Motor Vehicle Administration: Officials at the MVA spent six months drawing up a plan for a two-tier driver's license system, one for people who could produce documents to prove their legal presence in the United States and one for those who could not. Some transportation officials said a two-tiered system also would comply with the federal Real ID mandate, addressing federal security concerns while encouraging undocumented immigrants to obtain car insurance and pass a driving test. But after transportation officials briefed lawmakers last week on the two-tier proposal, the O'Malley administration quickly distanced itself. O'Malley on Tuesday rejected the proposal and directed his transportation officials to come up with a plan requiring immigrants to prove they are here legally before they can drive. Here is the full story by Lisa Rein.

The Republican Party: GOP lawmakers lost their effort to derail $1.4 million a year in state tax increases when a Carroll County circuit court judge dismissed their legal challenge. He chastised Democratic leaders for errors, but the bottom line was a defeat for the Republicans. Here is the story by Philip Rucker.

By Anne Bartlett  |  January 18, 2008; 12:29 PM ET
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