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Week in Review: October 15, 2010

Ehrlich notes tax-rate report

Professional and financial services companies pay higher taxes in Maryland than in neighboring states, but biotech firms often pay less, according to an Ernst & Young report released Wednesday. The campaign of Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is running for another term as governor, said the report shows that high taxes and regulations are choking businesses under the administration of Ehrlich’s opponent, Gov. Martin O’Malley. The incumbent’s campaign called that misleading, citing another Ernst & Young study.

Foreclosure probe begins

The attorneys general of all 50 states and the District of Columbia have banded together to investigate concerns about the role of banks and mortgage processing firms in flawed foreclosures nationwide. Banking regulators from 40 states, including Maryland, will look into whether bank and foreclosure processing firm employees signed court documents that had unverified or false information.

Nuclear plant plan uncertain

The decision by Constellation Energy Group to pull out of a plan to build a third nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs temporarily left its partner, Electricite de France SA, unsure of whether the project would continue. Shares of the French corporation fell sharply in price Monday before it said it would proceed. Constellation said the cost of a $7.5 billion loan guarantee would create unacceptable risks for it.

Comptroller candidate’s views

In an interview with The Daily Record, William H. Campbell said that if elected next month, he would use the post of Maryland comptroller to rein in spending and cast a more critical eye on such items as slot machine purchases and office leases.  The Republican, who has held government positions concerning finances but had never run for office, said Annapolis needs elected officials with a different perspective.

Franchot vows not to change

No matter who wins the governor’s race, Comptroller Peter Franchot said in a Daily Record interview he would not deviate from his plan of pushing for fiscal restraint if he is re-elected. The Democrat criticized programs he called costly or wasteful, saying that in his four years in the position he has established his “bona fides as an independent voice.”

Firm loses legal fees

The Court of Special Appeals has upheld an arbitrator’s decision that Louis Fireison & Associates is not due $110,000 in fees after a former client’s lawsuit against a Washington, D.C., hotel was settled for more than $1 million. The Bethesda law firm was bound, the court ruled, by a D.C. bar rule requiring that fee disputes go to arbitration upon the client’s request.

Convictions overturned

The Court of Appeals has overturned the gun and drug convictions of a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a traffic stop, saying police lacked sufficient suspicion to detain him until a drug-sniffing dog arrived. The 4-3 decision called the detention “unreasonable” even though the names of all three men in the car were in a police “alert” database and another passenger was arrested on an outstanding drug-related warrant.

Candidate sues rival

The Republican candidate for clerk of the Baltimore County Circuit Court filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit Wednesday against his Democratic rival. Richard J. Reinhardt alleges that Julie Ensor implicated him in the disappearance and destruction of 200 of her campaign signs. Ensor said she was unaware of the lawsuit and denied implying to police that Reinhardt was responsible for the loss of her signs.

Juvenile-girl rules withdrawn

The state Department of Juvenile Services has withdrawn proposed regulations that would have allowed it to send girls in the justice system far from their families and communities, while guaranteeing close-to-home services for most male offenders. Advocacy groups had opposed the change. The department said that because girls have specialized needs, and there are fewer of them in the system, flexibility in where they were sent is necessary.