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House prepares to debate O’Malley’s budget

While most have been focused on a gun control bill, proposed death penalty repeal and subsidies for an offshore wind energy industry in Maryland, the House of Delegates has quietly readied itself to debate and vote on O’Malley’s operating budget proposal.

The House Appropriations Committee reported its work on House Bill 100, the budget, and House Bill 102, which funds the budget, to the full House on Tuesday. Debate could begin this week.

Less than a year after the House and Senate found themselves in a bitter stalemate over the budget, which had become entangled with legislation to expand casino gambling in Maryland, there has been little public protest over O’Malley’s $37 billion spending proposal, which for the first time in years did not ask legislators to raise taxes.

With the end of the legislature’s annual 90-day session less than a month away, the House’s Democratic leadership still must wade through amendments likely to be introduced during debate by the full chamber and then await action by the Senate.

But with Senate subcommittees already making few changes to O’Malley’s budget proposal, the contentious annual debate that last year did not end until a May special session appears off to a better start in 2013.