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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Tuesday, December 15, 2009:

Lawmakers begin final briefings before session
Dozens of lawmakers will travel to Annapolis today for a final marathon of briefing sessions on the budget and other key issues before the General Assembly reconvenes in mid January. Today: meetings of the House Ways and Means, Environment, and Health committees, as well as a compensation panel. Tomorrow, the Board of Public Works will hold its last meeting of 2009. And on Thursday, lawmakers will convene the Spending Affordability Committee, which sets non-binding spending limits for the governor as he prepares his budget for release next month.

Baltimore slots group courting deep-pocketed investor

Thumbnail image for Baltimore casino.jpg"York Capital Management is the mystery investor whom the developers of Maryland's second-largest proposed slots casino has told the state it is courting, according to a source familiar with the negotiations," reports The Post's John Wagner. "Last week, the Baltimore City Entertaiment Group, which is seeking to build a 3,750-machine casino in downtown Baltimore, told a state commission that it needed more time to complete "advanced negotiations" with an additional investor. The investor was identified in a letter but not publicly disclosed."
More slots news: : "A representative of the Cordish Cos. confirmed Monday that the developer is among a half-dozen suitors for Laurel Park racetrack but said it has "no intention" of trying to move its planned slots casino from Arundel Mills mall to the track," Wagner writes.
The Baltimore Sun's take here, which also identifies Joseph A. De Francis, a former owner of the racetracks, and his sister, Karin De Francis, as among the suitors.

Maryland to send stimulus funding to crime labs
"Gov. Martin O'Malley said Monday that four crime labs would receive an extra $1.2 million in federal stimulus grants to help clear backlogs of DNA samples," writes Alan Suderman at The Washington Times.
"State police and the Baltimore police department will receive about $375,000," writes The AP. "Montgomery County will receive $275,000 and Prince George's County will receive about $210,000."
More stimulus news: "A Baltimore medical researcher has earned the dubious distinction of landing on a national hit list of questionable stimulus projects. But criticism of her work by a pair of Republican senators might have missed the mark," writes The Sun's Paul West. "

Leggett rips state on education spending law
Leggett mug.jpg"Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has some harsh words for the Maintenance of Effort law that requires every Maryland county to keep education spending at a set level," reports WTOP's Kate Ryan. "'It's a stupid law,' Leggett says, 'Well intentioned, but has unintended consequences.' Leggett also criticized Maryland's Board of Education for its explanation of why it refused to grant the county a waiver on the MOE during the legislative breakfast held Monday morning by the Committee for Montgomery, a group of civic and business organizations."
The Gazette's take here.

Around the state:

Eastern Shore
Environment Maryland will hold a press conference with local leaders this morning in Ocean City aimed at drumming up support for an offshore wind project.

Thumbnail image for Ben Cardin.jpgPrince George's
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) is grilled by small-business owners on the intricacies of the health insurance legislation being hammered out in the Senate this month, The Gazette reports.

Thumbnail image for Dixon photo.jpgBaltimore
Business leaders offered Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon "a warm greeting -- applause and even some cheers" on Monday when she presented the Greater Baltimore Committee's 35th annual business recognition awards, writes Joanna Sullivan at The Baltimore Business Journal.

Weast mug.jpgMontgomery County
Maryland Politics Watch blogger Adam Pagnucco looks at county schools chief Jerry Weast taking the lead in the state on fighting for school funding.

Thumbnail image for Sid the Science Kid.jpgTelevision
O'Malley (D) joins some 15 governors who appearing in new ads with Sid, the highly curious computer-generated star of "Sid the Science Kid" on PBS Kids.

Kratovil mug.jpgBlogosphere
-- Red Maryland questions Rep. Frank Kratovil's record as a prosecutor.
-- O'Malley Watch says the state has a tenure problem with teachers.
-- Maryland Politics Watch begins a series on whether former Gov. Robert L Ehrlich Jr. (R) could beat O'Malley. The first installment on voter registration numbers draws a heated response from Red Maryland,
Meanwhile, Todd Eberly of St. Mary's Colleges examines whether Ehrlich could win for The Sun.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  December 15, 2009; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Angelos not pursuing Laurel, Pimlico, sources say

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