- Auto thefts down in PG county.
- Times, 4 Feb 2006 (by Gary Emerling, The Washington Times).
Prince George's County officials say hiring more police officers and several key programs resulted in fewer auto thefts last year, after five straight years of increases.
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The county's struggle with violent crime and auto theft was highlighted in 2004 when 18,485 vehicles were stolen, compared to the 17,376 taken throughout the rest of Maryland. (The FBI reported 16,332 thefts, but the number includes only those reported by the county police and not those reported by municipalities in the county.)
The preliminary FBI number for 2005 is 11,767 thefts, with a final report due next month.
"Our internal numbers ...show a decline of 8.6 percent in auto theft for the entire year of 2005," said Capt. Andrew Ellis, a county police spokesman. "An overall county rate of about 10 percent is certainly realistic."
- PG County hopes to boost flagging retail base.
- Times, 3 Feb 2006 (by Jen Haberkorn, The Washington Times).
Prince George's County made an appeal to retail developers yesterday in a daylong event showcasing the county's affluent demographics and successes of existing retailers there. [Full story].
- Md. Stem Cell Bill Stalls as Block Looms; Panel Will Get First Look This Week at Governor's Plan to Fund Research.
- Post, 5 Feb 2006 (by John Wagner, Washington Post Staff Writer).
A bill that would provide $25 million a year in state money for embryonic stem cell research has stalled in the Maryland General Assembly, with supporters struggling to round up the votes needed to head off a threatened Republican-led filibuster in the Senate.
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The legislation is now parked in the budget committee, which must also approve it before it goes to the floor.
"It will sit there for awhile," Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's), the panel's chairman, said last week.
Miller, the Senate president, said he is certain that if a stem cell bill emerges, it will contain less than $25 million a year in funding.
Miller also cautioned those planning to filibuster that he is considering scheduling debate to start on a Friday and run all weekend.
"People who screw with the business of the Senate are going to feel the pain," he said.
- Group home reform proposed; Leaders suggest better oversight, yearly reviews for foster facilities .
State officials and legislators are moving to tighten oversight of some 500 privately run group homes caring for 2,700 troubled foster children in Maryland at an annual cost of $167 million.
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Another proposal -- to consolidate state oversight now spread among three different agencies -- faces long odds due to the governor's opposition.
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Lawmakers such as Sen. Ulysses Currie, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee and a Prince George's Democrat, who favor consolidation say it's a necessary step. But Carol Benner, who headed Office of Health Care Quality until retiring last year, said the agency could not handle the added role without much more staff and funding.
[. . .].
- Ehrlich aide, Miller fight over clerk's pay.
- Times, 5 Feb 2006 (AP).
ust hours after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. called in his State of the State address for an end to "assassin politics," his press secretary said the Democratic-controlled legislature was docking the pay of a General Assembly clerk and former POW for taking time off work to attend the speech.
Greg Massoni, the spokesman for the Republican governor, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. was responsible for the move.
Mr. Miller, Calvert and Prince George's Democrat, denied responsibility, and the two men exchanged sharp words.
The argument was brief because Mr. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, moved quickly to ensure that mail room clerk Jack Fellowes was paid for the time he spent as one of Mr. Ehrlich's guests at last week's address.
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Mr. Miller downplayed the incident with Mr. Massoni, though he said Democratic Party officials thought he should have issued a statement denouncing the press secretary.
"The more we're attacking each other, the less we get done down here," he said.
But soon after, Mr. Miller criticized Mr. Ehrlich for excessive spending that he said threatens to put the state into a fiscal crisis.
"The General Assembly is going to have to spank his hands, while at the same time remaining civil," he said.