WEEK IN REVIEW
O'Malley Calls for More EfficiencyGovernor Outlines His Priorities in Speech
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Martin O'Malley outlined his priorities for the legislative session: more spending for school construction, a freeze on college tuition, adoption of tighter emission standards for automobiles and a living wage bill that would require a minimum level of pay for employees of state contractors and other issues.
The governor promised in the coming year "to make our government work with greater efficiency and effectiveness." He urged lawmakers to move forward on a "shared agenda" after four years of "drift" and division under his Republican predecessor.
Bill to Require HPV Vaccine Is PulledLegislation Might Be Reintroduced Next Year
Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D-Baltimore County) announced plans to withdraw legislation that would have mandated that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Kelley said she probably will reintroduce the bill next session. Similar measures are being considered in the District, Virginia, New Jersey and California.
Montgomery Warns DevelopersCouncil Votes to Tighten Permit Process
The Montgomery County Council decided not to temporarily freeze dozens of development projects in the face of opposition from the business community and some nonprofit groups. Instead, the council voted unanimously for a measure that warns developers that applications for new construction probably will undergo more stringent standards this summer.
Pr. George's Hospital Averts ClosureMore County Control Could Be in the Offing
Dimensions Healthcare System, which runs Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, accepted $5 million from the county to avoid immediate shutdown and agreed to allow the county to take greater control of its board if it accepts additional money. Directors of the nonprofit company said that the payment will keep the hospital open through March but that state and local leaders must find a long-term solution to the system's financial problems.
Montgomery to Pay for GraduationsDecision Keeps Ceremonies Out of Churches
Montgomery County schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast announced that the school system would pay for the county's largest high school, Montgomery Blair, to hold its graduation ceremony at Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park. Weast's decision came after the school board authorized Blair to hold graduation exercises at a church, a decision that officials said could have attracted a lawsuit. Weast also said the school system will pay the full cost this year of all county high school graduations, a sum of $125,000.
Across the RegionBay Cleanup; Subway Safety
· After 19 years, the Chesapeake Bay cleanup is struggling to produce results on par with its promises, according to environmentalists. The Environmental Protection Agency said that efforts to restore the bay's health need to be accelerated to meet a 2010 deadline. But meeting that goal would require unprecedented funding from government sources and widespread sacrifices from individuals.
· Metro intends to hire a contractor within 30 days to create a program to improve safety on the subway system. The number of robberies increased by more than 6 percent, from 332 in 2005 to 354 last year, with a third of them involving thefts of iPods and cellphones.