Daily "Recent Prince George's County News" updates were suspended in early March 2016. They were compiled primarily from retweets of news headlines. Those retweets continue, but in unformatted and unarchived form at PG-Politics-Briefs. To follow such headlines on a current basis, follow @pgpolitics on Twitter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

News Briefs (Thursday and Friday)

(Posted 24 Feb 2006) Politicians, Hospital, Business.
Politicians & legislation
  • Clearing up the facts on recent legislation.
  • Efforts to stop witness intimidation gain ground.
  • Led by Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, advocates of legislation to fight witness intimidation moved Wednesday to extend the scope of a law passed last year.
    [. . .]
    "It would help especially in domestic violence cases and ... other intrafamilial crimes," said Glenn Ivey, Prince George's County state's attorney.
    [. . .]
    The bill passed last year and signed into law permits hearsay evidence in drug-related cases. The measure was strongly opposed by Judiciary Chairman Joseph Vallario, D-Prince George's. Vallario squashed a similar measure when it came up in his committee in 2004 despite strong support. Only after intense lobbying did he allow his committee to consider the bill.
    [. . .].
  • Senate OKs bill allowing pet trusts.
    • Sun, 24 Jan 2006 (Capital News Service).
    A bill that passed in the state Senate yesterday would allow pet owners to leave money to their animals through trusts. Essentially, the legislation would grant animal beneficiaries the same legal status as human beneficiaries.
    [. . .]
    The bill's sponsor, Sen. Leo E. Green, a Prince George's County Democrat, said similar legislation has passed in a number of other states, and many Maryland legislators underestimate the bill's popularity.
  • Fluffy Living Large as Possible Heir to Marylanders' Estates.
    • Fox News, 24 Feb 2006 (by George R. Altman and Capital News Service).
    . . . When asked about this partisan trend, Green foreshadowed an upcoming showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the issue of pet estates.

    "It's their dogs and cats against ours," he laughed. "We're going to meet 'em at high noon."
  • Eminent domain debate splits Pr. George's, Mo.Co.; Poll: Marylanders oppose high court ruling 3-1.
  • As the Maryland State Senate rushes to block the U.S. Supreme Court's eminent domain decision, response from Prince George's and Montgomery counties indicate a stark contrast between the two jurisdictions.

    Prince George's government argued, in a brief filed with the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee, that the move to limit the county's ability to take property deemed "harmful" would cost the county tax revenue and threaten projects already in the works.
    [. . .]
    Despite a statewide poll indicating an overwhelming majority of Marylanders are opposed to the usage of eminent domain (an average of 3 opposing to 1 in favor), some legislators are standing by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
    [. . .].
    • [Comment: Another area where local elected officials seem to be opposed to the views of their constituents.]
  • Legislation seeks more state help for veterans; Panels hear testimony on bill to provide scholarships, create outreach office.
  • . . . Del. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George's, told fellow committee members during the hearing that there is no way she can describe the mental stress her husband went through as a result of his combat experiences in Vietnam. . . .
  • Senators want Curran to 'examine' Constellation deal.
  • Maryland lawmakers are asking the state attorney general to "carefully examine" Constellation Energy Group Inc.'s proposed merger with a Florida energy firm.
    [. . .]
    The resolution was introduced by state Sen. Leo Green, D-Prince George's.

    Green and other lawmakers are worried about the merger's potential impact on Maryland. They are concerned by what they describe as FPL's poor track record responding to hurricanes in Florida.

    Green said he wants the attorney general "to protect us and find out what it's all about." The merger, he said, "has far reaching effects on our constituents and certainly the customer."
    [. . .].
  • Va. and Md. Reject Ban On Smoking; Lawmakers Loath To Force Businesses .
  • Flirtations with smoking bans in Virginia and Maryland came to abrupt ends yesterday, as legislative panels in each state rejected bills that would have made restaurants and virtually all other public places smoke-free.
    [. . .]
    From the beginning, the bill sponsored by Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-Prince George's) faced resistance from Democratic leaders of the General Assembly and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).
    [. . .].
  • Votes on Legislation to Ban Smoking.
  • . . . The House Health and Government Operations Committee failed to pass the "Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006" on a vote of 11 to 11. HB 375 needed 13 votes to clear the committee. The bill would have banned smoking in indoor public places, including bars and restaurants with liquor licenses. An amendment to the bill that was approved by the committee would have exempted certain tobacco stores, such as cigar shops.
Prince George's Hospital Center
  • County solicits bids on troubled hospital system; Lawmakers say it’s necessary to ‘cast a big net’ to solve major county health care problem.
  • Lawmakers say accepting bids on the county’s cash-strapped hospital system from for-profit medical institutions as well as non-profits will work to the county’s advantage.

    ‘‘It makes sense to cast a big net,” said Council Chair Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘We should have opened it up all the way from the beginning,” said Del. James W. Hubbard (D-Dist. 23A) of Bowie. ‘‘We need anybody and everybody that’s willing to take on the Prince George’s hospital system and bring Dimensions back on its feet.”
    [. . .]
    ‘‘They wanted to make sure everyone—including agencies like Medstar—has an opportunity to put a proposal on the table,” said Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Dist. 25) of Forestville. Currie, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, has been deeply involved in solving the county’s hospital dilemma. . . . ‘‘I don’t think the [expanded offer] changes what the county is expecting from proposals that come in,” Currie said.
    [. . .].
  • PG expands search for health-care system ally.
  • National Harbor Touts Bookings.
  • Advance booking for rooms and convention facilities at Gaylord Hotels' $850 million National Harbor development in Prince George's County, which is scheduled to open in 2008, have surpassed pre-construction contracts signed at its other locations, the company said yesterday.
    [. . .]
    The interest in Gaylord National, as the Prince George's hotel is known, has prompted the company to expand its plans for the hotel, increasing the number of rooms by 500, to a total of 2,000, and making it one of the largest on the East Coast.
    [. . .]
    Prince George's County council member Tony Knotts (D-Temple Hills) described the expansion as a seminal event. "This is independence day. Prince George's has an opportunity to separate itself and cut the umbilical cord from the District of Columbia."
    [. . .]
    Reed also said Gaylord will give Prince George's Community College $1 million to start a hospitality institute on its campus. The company plans to hire 2,200 employees when the property opens.
  • Potomac River Resort Plans Expand.
  • . . . Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson is glowing over the news that the mega Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor on the Potomac River will be even larger than planned. . . .
  • National Harbor To Undergo Major Expansion Project; Site To Become Second Largest On East Coast .
  • Two Cents on an $11.5 Billion Deal.
    • Post, 23 Feb 2006 (by Ann E. Marimow and Matthew Mosk).
    Maryland Sen. Leo E. Green introduced legislation yesterday that would direct the attorney general to intervene in Constellation Energy Group's proposed merger with a Florida power company. . . .
  • Tobacco tax may help health care; Maryland Democrats seek to double levy.
  • Democrats in the Maryland House of Delegates and health care advocates are seeking to double the tobacco tax to boost health care and offer incentives to small businesses to provide health benefits.
    [. . .]
    Thirty-one other delegates, mainly from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.

    Ellen Valentino, Maryland director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said 67 percent of members of the small business association oppose the legislation.

    "They see this - as a tax increase on a large segment of the business community with no real solution to affordable health care," she said.

    The majority of NFIB members are retailers, Valentino said.

    "We are beginning to see this ongoing agenda to expand government programs at the expense of small business," she said.

    Should the measure make its way through the House and into the Senate, Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George's, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, was noncommittal about its fate.

    "It's good that it prevents youngsters from smoking," Currie said. "But that does not mean it will pass when it comes over here."
    [. . .].

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