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April 10-16

Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page C04

Democrats Dominate at Session's End Legislature Denies Ehrlich's Third Bid for Slots

The Maryland General Assembly concluded a rancor-filled session, with Democrats galvanizing hefty majorities in both chambers to muscle through a liberal agenda that had been endangered under a Republican governor.

At the end of the 90-day session, lawmakers denied an attempt by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for the third straight year to legalize slot machine gambling on a widespread basis and continued to chip away at the powers of Maryland's first Republican governor in a generation.

Authorities believe the fire at Blair East Apartments began about 4:30 a.m. (Erica E. Lusk -- The Washington Post)

_____Slot Machines_____
Time to Tally the '05 Session's Winners and Losers (The Washington Post, Apr 17, 2005)
Ehrlich Spreads Blame Over Slots (The Washington Post, Apr 12, 2005)
Ehrlich Counts on Unorthodox Appeals to Clinch His Agenda (The Washington Post, Apr 11, 2005)
Md. Slots Push Comes Down to The Wire (The Washington Post, Apr 9, 2005)
More on Slot Machines

Ehrlich declared the slots issue dead until after the 2006 elections. He blamed the loss of his top initiative on a recalcitrant legislature. Slots opponents said bickering among high-powered gambling interests made it impossible to craft a slots program that would satisfy everyone.

Md. Offers Statewide Library Cards Patrons Can Borrow, Return at 174 Locations

Maryland libraries are working to prove that they are far from obsolete. Libraries now offer drive-through windows, online renewals and e-book downloads. The latest evolution is a statewide library card that allows users to borrow and return books at any of 174 libraries. A dozen states have similar cards.

Resistance to Columbia Theater Dropped Merriweather Post Now Seen as Key to Downtown

Merriweather Post Pavilion's corporate owners, who had insisted that the outdoor amphitheater in Columbia should be converted into a smaller, indoor concert hall, reversed course and said they want to make it a centerpiece of a more vibrant downtown.

The decision to allow the 38-year-old facility to continue hosting large concerts and to coexist with a proposed development nearby is a major breakthrough in a battle between Howard County and General Growth Properties over how to put the finishing touches on the community's downtown.

2 Deals Could Cut D.C.'s Stadium Cost Bank Funds, Development Rights Plans Weighed

District leaders may reduce the public investment in a new baseball stadium by accepting a $246 million payment from Deutsche Bank and granting development rights at the site to a private firm. The plan, which is not finalized, would use aspects of two proposals that private entities have made to the city.

The D.C. Council has been seeking ways to find private funding for the stadium project, which has been estimated to cost as much as $581 million.

Property Tax Relief Offered in Name Only Bills Would Remain High Under Leaders' Plans

Area politicians have been able to avoid being blamed for skyrocketing property tax bills by successfully separating rising assessments from rising taxes in the eyes of their constituents.

Now, with what critics say is an extra measure of chutzpah, many leaders are proposing "tax relief." But few plans would actually reduce property tax payments. Instead, the myriad plans could create the impression of cutting taxes while allowing continued increases in revenue and spending, politicians and analysts say. Many plans would cut tax rates, but rising assessments would offset the decrease.

Region May Not Take Hit in Base Closures Realignment Expected Among Installations

The list of military bases selected to close is to be released May 16, but in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, the worst fears appear to have subsided. Advocates for the three jurisdictions said that rumor and research have led them to believe that no regional bases will be closed in the Base Realignment and Closure process. But they say there could be a lot of shuffling among bases.

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