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Week in review – 7/27/12

Amtrak plans D.C. upgrade

Amtrak is proposing a $7 billion upgrade of the 105-year-old Union Station in Washington to turn it into a high-speed rail hub for the Northeast. The plan calls for doubling the number of trains the station can accommodate, the Washington Post reported. Amtrak would add new platforms, tracks and stores. Six tracks for high-speed rail would be added. There would also be a 50-foot-wide, 100-foot-long glass-enclosed main concourse. A developer is also planning a $1.5 billion complex of offices, residential towers and a hotel that would be built on a deck over the tracks. Amtrak has not said how the project would be funded.

Judge gives Md. 2 weeks to change gun permit process

The state has two weeks to change its handgun-permit process, under a ruling by the same U.S. District Court judge who found the current law violates the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In March, Judge Benson E. Legg ruled that the state law requiring applicants to show “good and substantial reason” to carry a gun is overly broad. However, the state appealed that decision and a temporary stay was put in effect. This week, Legg denied the state’s effort to extend the stay until the appellate court has heard the case.

Plans unveiled for new P.G. hospital

Faced with 24,000 residents who are leaving Prince George’s County annually to seek medical treatment, Maryland officials unveiled plans to improve the county’s health care system and build a $600 million regional hospital to replace Prince George’s Hospital Center. The new hospital system will have 278 beds. A July 2011 memorandum of understanding laid out a plan for the collaboration between the University of Maryland Medical System and Dimensions Healthcare, the company that runs the Prince George’s Hospital System. The memorandum set forth plans for the construction of a new hospital and for the improvement of Dimensions’ facilities.

Hearing next month on challenge to Tribune plan

A federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware will hold a hearing Aug. 17 to address appeals challenging his approval of the Tribune Co.’s reorganization plan. Separate appeals were filed this week by hedge fund Aurelius Capital Management and other creditors in opposition to the reorganization plan for Tribune, whose holdings include The Baltimore Sun. The appeals challenge the fairness of a settlement of legal claims against banks that financed Tribune’s 2007 leveraged buyout.

 T. Rowe Price income up in second quarter

Though Baltimore-based money manager T. Rowe Price Group Inc. reported an increase in income and revenue for the second quarter, the company’s performance in the second half of the year hinges on the politics of an election year and a national government that has failed to reach a budget compromise. “If they could get their act together and deal with some of these issues and put some of this uncertainty to bed, confidence both corporate and consumer would be a lot higher and the economy would be in a lot better shape,” said James A.C. Kennedy, president and CEO of T. Rowe. The company reported net income of $206.8 million, or 79 cents per share, for the second quarter. That compares with $204.7 million, or 76 cents per share, in the corresponding period in 2011.

Cooper Auctioneers suing law firm

Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc. is suing a soon-to-close law firm it worked with on a number of foreclosure sales, claiming the attorneys failed to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. In a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the auction company claims that Friedman & MacFadyen PA owes it $871,242 for advertising and auctioneering services. Friedman & MacFadyen was one of the firms that had to appear in Baltimore City Circuit Court last year as part of an investigation into robosigning of foreclosure documents.

PSC rejects Pepco’s full rate increase

Maryland regulators have rejected a large portion of the Potomac Electric Power Co.’s request for a 4 percent rate increase, citing the company’s history of substandard performance. The Public Service Commission rejected $50 million of the $68 million increase requested by the company. The $18.1 million increase approved by regulators amounts to a $2.02 rise in a typical residential monthly bill, the PSC said. The company’s full request would have meant a $5.56 increase per month.

Under Armour’s online sales difficult

Under Armour Inc. executives said they have lowered projections for online sales for the year as the Baltimore-based sports apparel company continues to have difficulty converting site visits to dollars. The company’s overall performance, however, was positive in the second quarter as sales increased across the board and the company raised its 2012 guidance. Under Armour’s second-quarter revenue increased by 27 percent, to $369.5 million, compared with $291.3 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

Comcast offers mega-fast Internet service

Comcast Corp. introduced a $299.95-a-month Internet service that it says beats the speediest offering from Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS. The new tier, called Xfinity Platinum Internet, offers download speeds of up to 305 megabits per second, Comcast said. The new service is initially being offered in Northeastern cites that include Baltimore and Washington.