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Week in review: 1/13/12

Apartments at Tremont

Baltimore’s Tremont Plaza Hotel will soon convert back to its original purpose: apartments. The owners of the 390-suite property said Monday the rooms would soon be altered into apartments and long-term stay places.

Sales tax increase proposed

Gov. Martin O’Malley floated a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax on Wednesday as another potential remedy to Maryland’s persistent and widespread money problems. The idea appeared to catch lawmakers off guard as they gathered in the State House for the start of the 90-day legislative session.

$372M sought for schools

Gov. Martin O’Malley called for nearly $372 million to build and upgrade Maryland schools on Tuesday but said he has not finished a plan that is expected to seek more money to spend on transportation. He said he will use state building projects to spur hiring in the construction sector.

Gas tax hike opposed

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael E. Busch agreed in Daily Record interviews that Maryland needs to spend more on transportation projects, but both said the proposed 15-cent gasoline tax increase would be too high.

Bernstein outlines changes

A little over a year after taking over, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein on Monday outlined initiatives his office has undertaken, including creating a Major Investigations Unit and another unit to evaluate claims of wrongful prosecution.

City election shift urged

After a string of low-turnout elections in Baltimore, a coalition of groups called Monday for the city to shift its election cycle. The Baltimore Election Change Coalition wants city elections to be held in line with the statewide cycle.

Foreclosed home award

A former homeowner who stripped his million-dollar Bowie residence of its expensive fixtures must pay $170,000 to the bank that foreclosed on him, a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge has ruled.

Prison murder trial begins

Opening statements in the death penalty case against Lee E. Stephens started Wednesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, laying the groundwork for a trial that is expected to last six weeks. Stephens is accused of joining another inmate in killing a corrections officer at the now-closed Maryland House of Corrections in Jessup.

Casino prepares to hire

Maryland Live! Casino, a $500 million gambling and entertainment center under development by the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. adjacent to Arundel Mills mall in Hanover, will open an employment office Monday at 7270 Park Circle Drive in Hanover. The company expects to fill more than 1,500 new full-time and part-time positions.

Md. foreclosure decrease

According to a report by RealtyTrac, an online data firm, there were 14,421 foreclosure filings in Maryland last year, or one in every 162 housing units, a 66 percent decline from 2010. The national average was one in 69 houses, also a decrease from 2010.

Home price fall predicted

A national study released Monday shows that even though national housing prices are expected to increase slightly this year, they could drop by 4.9 percent in Baltimore. Prices in the city fell 6.2 percent in 2011.