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First Click, Maryland -- Saturday special

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Saturday, April 10, 2010:

The Agenda

Thumbnail image for Dome on a clear day.JPGWith both chambers of the General Assembly set to convene in rare Saturday sessions -- in advance of Monday's scheduled adjournment -- we present a rare Saturday edition of First Click. Floor sessions are scheduled to begin in the House and Senate at 10 a.m. Also on tap today: former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s first radio show since announcing a rematch against Gov. Martin O'Malley -- and the back-and-forth over whether they will debate That starts at 9 a.m. on Baltimore's WBAL.

News You Should Know

Handheld phone ban headed to governor
handheld.jpg"Maryland drivers will have to use handsfree devices to talk on cell phones while driving under legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly on Friday," reports Brian Witte of the Associated Press. "The House of Delegates voted 125-14 to pass a measure already approved by the Senate, sending the legislation to Gov. Martin O'Malley who plans to sign the bill. Drivers will only be able to use their hands to turn a phone on and off, under the legislation. They also will not be allowed to hold a cell phone during the conversation while driving."

Medicaid fraud bill clears House of Delegates
"Maryland lawmakers voted Friday to create civil penalties for people who make false health claims to help the state recover millions of dollars for health care," reports the AP's Witte. "The House of Delegates passed the bill 106-32. The Senate already has approved the legislation, which now goes to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who pushed for the measure and has indicated he will sign it. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown led the effort to broker a compromise with the Maryland Hospital Association, which opposed the bill last year. Defendants will be able to recover attorneys' fees and costs for any frivolous lawsuits. The state estimates about $20 million in Medicaid could be recovered a year with the help of the legislation, which aims to stop fraudulent practices such as an insurance company filling out a form for a wheelchair for a fictitious patient."

O'Malley says Ehrlich 'scaremonger' on tax hikes
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for O'Malley recent mug.jpg"Gov. Martin O'Malley accused former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of 'scare-monger politics' Friday for continuing to claim that Democrats are plotting a major tax increase after the 2010 elections to help balance future budgets," write The Post's John Wagner. "Ehrlich (R), who announced a rematch with O'Malley (D) on Wednesday, has warned for weeks on his radio show that 'the worst-kept secret in Annapolis' is the planned tax increase -- a claim Ehrlich has repeated in recent days on the campaign trail. At a stop Thursday in Frederick, for example, Ehrlich said: 'If Martin O'Malley's elected governor, they'll pass the largest tax increase ever in the history of Maryland.' O'Malley, in an interview, declined to rule out raising taxes in 2011 but said he has no plans to do so."

Sun now says smoke, but no fire at Annapolis bar
Thumbnail image for O'Brien's.jpg"A celebration for freshmen members of the Maryland state legislature ended abruptly late Thursday when smoke entered the Annapolis barroom in which it was held," write The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz in an updated story. "Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch were among at least 50 lawmakers who left the smoky building at about 11:15 p.m., just before Annapolis fire units arrived. Lt. John J. Bowes of the Annapolis Fire Marshal's Office said there was "'fire' at the bar, but said smoke and debris came out of the ventilation system when the heating system -- which had been off for some time -- was inadvertently turned on."

Quotables

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ehrlich family.jpg"Bob Ehrlich is looking forward to tomorrow morning's radio show. The invitation to Governor O'Malley for a one-on-one discussion was declined, but still stands. He has also invited former state lawmaker George Owings, who has announced that he will challenge Governor O'Malley in the Democratic primary."
-- Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., on his Facebook page

Thumbnail image for O'Malley FB.jpg"We invited Ehrlich to a simple, standard debate this Saturday... at his own radio station... moderated by journalists at his station, and he turned us down. Is it really too much to ask for a debate on the issues? He won't debate us, but will he debate you? Will you call his show Saturday and ask him about the important issues facing Maryland?"
-- Martin O'Malley, on his Facebook page

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By John Wagner  |  April 10, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Ehrlich hosts O'Malley's Democratic rival on radio

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