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Week in review – 2/3/12: O’Malley backs taxes for jobs

O’Malley backs taxes for jobs

Gov. Martin O’Malley called for tax increases Wednesday in his State of the State address, urging lawmakers to weigh those “tough choices, the costs and the trade-offs” against the jobs he hopes to support through increased spending on infrastructure.

Exelon picks Harbor Point

Exelon Corp.’s choice of a potential $120 million Baltimore headquarters site in Harbor Point for Constellation Energy Group was made in part because the property already had lucrative developer tax breaks attached to it, observers say. The site’s owner, H&S Properties Development Corp., has tax increment financing and enterprise zone tax credits.

Applying sales tax to gas

Gov. Martin O’Malley outlined a proposal Monday to apply Maryland’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline, calling it the “best option” to boost spending on roads, bridges, rail lines and other transportation projects. The tax would be phased in evenly over three years. Top Democrats said Tuesday that the General Assembly probably will not consider the proposal until late in its current session.

Lights, camera, Towson

Construction of an $85 million entertainment complex at Towson Circle that includes a 16-screen movie theater and five new restaurants is expected to begin by March, according to Baltimore County officials. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said $8.2 in public money has been given to the developers, Heritage Properties and The Cordish Cos. for what will be called Towson Circle III.

Counsel at bail, round 2

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee appears poised to undo a court ruling that found indigent defendants have a statutory right to counsel when their bail is set — a right the public defender estimates would cost the state $28 million.

O’Malley backs gay marriage law

In testimony before a state Senate committee Tuesday, Gov. Martin O’Malley stressed the importance of balancing the freedom of Maryland’s religious institutions to practice their faith with the civil rights of same-sex couples in Maryland. O’Malley hopes the Civil Marriage Protection Act, introduced last week, will pass both chambers of the General Assembly this spring.

Mom with allergy wins ruling

A private nursery school violated a Howard County statute by refusing to accommodate a mother’s request to stop using latex gloves when changing diapers, the Court of Appeals held 4-3. According to the decision, the woman’s severe latex allergy constituted a “handicap” under the county’s Human Rights Code.

Sex-abuse suit settled

The state has reached a $465,000 settlement with two mentally disabled women who claimed they were subjected to rape and sexual abuse for years by their supervisors at the state-run Maryland Sheltered Workshop. The state Board of Public Works will consider the settlement Feb. 8.

Checking up on landlords

Infused with a $300,000 federal grant, fair housing group Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc. said it plans to expand its testing of landlords and property managers beyond the city limits to ensure they comply with statutory prohibitions on rental discrimination on the basis of race and will sue those who repeatedly fail the test.

Md. lottery looks to Internet

The Maryland State Lottery Agency hopes to make more money, get more exposure and have more people playing when it takes ticket sales online, Director Stephen Martino said Tuesday. He said online sales could start in about 12 months.

Judge steps down early

Court of Special Appeals Judge James R. Eyler will step down May 1, about 2½ months before the Maryland Constitution would compel his retirement at age 70. He noted his eagerness to go into private mediation in not seeing a reason to stay as long as he could on the bench.