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BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland and Delaware are among the nation's top 20 power plant polluters, according to new rankings by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Maryland ranked 19th in the rankings released Thursday, an improvement from fifth place the year before. Delaware rose one spot from 21st the year before to make it onto the top 20 list.

The new rankings are based on 2010 figures, and the NRDC says new standards imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency mean power plant pollution should drop over the next few years.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland lawmakers and casino owners are reviewing Gov. Martin O'Malley's 55-page measure to expand gambling on the eve of a special session.

O'Malley, for his part, said Wednesday the bill will increase state revenue and jobs. He also says he's "so sick of this issue" and wants to settle it. The Senate wil convene the special session Thursday.

The gambling proposals would allow table games like blackjack and a new casino site in Prince George's County that could open in 2016.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's infant mortality rate has been at a record low for two years straight.

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced on Wednesday that the infant mortality rate was 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 and 2011.

O'Malley attributes the decline to an expansion of health care access to young women and parents. He also says safer sleep practices have played a role.

BALTIMORE (AP) - More than half of Maryland is in a moderate drought and more than 28 percent is in a severe drought.

That's according to figures from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The figures show 51.45 percent of the state in moderate drought, down from 52.44 percent the week before. And 28.55 percent of the state is in severe drought, up sharply from 19.93 percent the week before.

The most severely affected areas are on the lower Eastern Shore and southern Maryland with the least affected areas along the Pennsylvania border in central Maryland.

Whatever the US Supreme Court decides about the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Act today the state of Maryland plans to push ahead with the reforms.

Those could include a state-run health insurance exchange even if that provision is struck down by the High Court.

Governor Martin O’Malley told reporters to expect Maryland to be in the forefront of health care reform if left with going on a state-by-state basis.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A work group of lawmakers and aides to Gov. Martin O'Malley that is studying a potential expansion of gambling in Maryland is scheduled to hear from analysts who have been looking at the proposals.

The meeting is set for Tuesday in Annapolis.

Lawmakers will hear from analysts from PricewaterhouseCoopers. They'll talk about their findings on a potential gambling expansion.

O'Malley has said he will call a special session next month to take up the expansion, if lawmakers can reach a consensus on how to do that.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is offering free fishing days this summer to encourage residents to enjoy the state's waterways.

Saturday is the second of three free fishing days. The first was last Saturday and the third is July 4.

Fishing licenses, stamps or registration are not required Saturday, but anglers must still abide by catch and size limits.

 

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's property tax will hold stead for now, but Comptroller Peter Franchot is warning about rising debt service obligations in upcoming years.

     The Board of Public Works on Wednesday held the state property tax to 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

     But Franchot noted that debt service obligations will increase in the next several years to $1.4 billion. He says it's important the state keep that in mind.

 

     ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Republican presidential candidates are vying for 37 delegates in Maryland's primary, with Mitt Romney expected to fare well in a state that's home to many moderate GOP members.

     Candidates have been making campaign appearances in the state in advance of Tuesday's primary. Maryland is getting a rare moment in the Republican spotlight because of a nominating contest that has extended into April.

 

      

  

     Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is scheduled to speak at Salisbury University this afternoon from 3-4 at Holloway Hall.

    The former House Speaker ‘s speech is sponsored by the Salisbury University College Republicans and is limited to the campus community with attendees required to have a school ID.

    This morning Gingrich was scheduled to stop off at the Maryland State House in Annapolis with a walk down mainstreet.

   There are 37 delegates at stake in next week’s primary.

 

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Far fewer taxpayers would be affected by an income tax increase under a House panel's plan then one approved by the state Senate.

     The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday voted to raise taxes on single filers who make more than $100,000. Their rate would go from 4.75 percent to 5 percent. Joint filers would have to earn more than $150,000 for their rate to go up that much.

 

       ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is paying more than double for each slot machine that officials acquired to fill the state's first three casinos.

     An analysis by The Washington Post found the state is paying about $10,000 per machine per year. At the current rate, the paper says the state could spend $50 million a year more than projected by the time all five privately owned casinos are open.

 

       ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - It's going to be a "doomsday" kind of a morning for the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

     Analysts with the state's nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services plan to give the panel a briefing on the so-called "doomsday" budget plan Tuesday morning in Annapolis.

     The plan has been put together in case lawmakers can't agree on new revenues to balance this year's books and reduce an ongoing structural budget deficit of about $1.1 billion by half.

 

 

            Maryland has become the eighth state to legalize same sex marriage.

            Yesterday afternoon Governor Martin O’Malley signed the legislation which will go into effect next January.
            But before that, opponents are expected to gather the 56-thousand signatures needed to put the law to a referendum on the November ballot to give voters the final decision.

            Much of that opposition is expected to come from African American pastors and the Catholic Church.

           

 

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate is delaying debate on a bill to legalize gay marriage.

     Republican leaders asked that discussion of the bill and potential amendments be postponed until Thursday.

     Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the Senate could gather into the evening that day to consider the bill, which barely passed the House of Delegates last week. Debate could continue Friday before a final vote is taken.

 

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Senate committee will hold a hearing on a measure to expand gambling in Maryland.

     The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill that would pave the way for table games like blackjack. The measure also would allow a casino to be built in Prince George's County.

     Even if General Assembly approves, Maryland voters would have a say on table games and a new casino location in a statewide referendum.

 

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland agriculture and environmental officials are opposing a bill to prohibit additional bay restoration regulations on farmers until other states in the watershed catch up to their pollution reductions.

 

   ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland lawmakers are still waiting for the big payout from the Legislature's gamble more than four years ago on legalized slot machines.

     To truly hit the jackpot, some lawmakers believe the state must expand state-approved gambling further. They say table games and a Washington-area casino are needed to compete with neighboring states and generate the dollars needed for education and other needs. Much of the competition comes from venues in Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

 

     ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Md. delegates say they are prepared to consider handfuls of amendments to a bill designed to legalize gay marriage.

     The House of Delegates voted Thursday evening to delay debate on the measure until Friday afternoon after two committees review submitted amendments.

     The body did add one amendment to the bill Thursday evening,altering the effective date of the bill from October to January 2013.

 

     ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Members of the House of Delegates will consider a bill to legalize gay marriage.

     After passing through a panel of 45 lawmakers, legislation to allow same-sex unions is expected to be introduced to the full chamber on Wednesday.

     The bill moves to the House floor with the support of at least

one Republican, Delegate Robert Costa.

     Costa voted to move the bill out of committee Tuesday, a day after Gov. Martin O'Malley said the support of GOP lawmakers could be critical to passing the legislation.

 

     ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's Department of Natural Resources

says oysters are surviving at the highest rate since 1985.

     The department says results of its fall oyster survey show 92

percent of oysters were found alive in samples taken baywide. The

two-month survey sampled 263 oyster bars throughout the bay.

     While heavy rains last year caused high mortality in some areas,

the department says lower salt levels throughout the bay helped cut

diseases that have devastated oyster populations. DNR says the high

During his state of the state address, Governor Martin O'Malley asked for more revenue to shore up transportation and education in Maryland. However, Republicans responded by sharply criticizing the Governor's tax proposals as well as his executive order, PlanMaryland, that would coordinate state and local actions to control development.  

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