- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address and his presentation of the proposed budget for next year will highlight the first full week of the 2001 General Assembly session.
Mr. Glendening is expected to release details of the budget tomorrow. He will follow that up with an address at noon on Wednesday to a joint session of the Senate and House of Delegates.
The budget caused some dismay in the General Assembly even before it was introduced because lawmakers fully expected the governor to submit a budget well above the ceiling they have set on state spending.
The legislature wants to limit growth in the budget to $883 million, but Mr. Glendening has made it clear he will not stay within legislative guidelines. Lawmakers expect his budget will exceed their limit by at least $100 million and maybe more, leaving it up to them to make the necessary cuts.
"We're going to have to take $100 million to $150 million away from people the governor has already given it to," said Sen. Robert Neall, Anne Arundel County Republican.
Republicans are issuing dire warnings that with the national and state economies perhaps heading for a recession, Maryland is courting financial disaster down the road unless Mr. Glendening limits spending even more than the legislature has recommended.
"We're sailing the state of Maryland into the teeth of a storm under full sail," said House Minority Leader Robert Kittleman, Howard County Republican.
Mr. Glendening's sixth and next-to-the-last State of the State address will touch on his legislative priorities for the 2001 session, but no big surprises are expected. The governor already has revealed broad outlines of his program, and has filled in the details on some of his initiatives.
Several health care issues will be up for discussion this week.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will get a briefing today on prescription drugs and problems confronting Marylanders who do not have insurance that pays for prescriptions.
Many lawmakers consider the high cost of drugs to be a major health problem, especially for older people, who often have limited incomes but generally have to take more prescription drugs than young people.
The House Environmental Matters will get briefings and reports tomorrow on prescription drugs, the expansion of Maryland's health insurance program for poor children and the health care program for Medicaid patients.
A Wednesday hearing is scheduled in Annapolis on legislation that would put new restrictions on relationships between lobbyists and Maryland legislators.
The bill would allow the state for the first time to suspend or revoke the licenses of lobbyists who violate ethics laws.
It would require lobbyists to disclose more information on how they spend money entertaining lawmakers and would shed more light on campaign contributions given by companies that are represented in Annapolis by paid lobbyists.
The House Commerce and Government Matters Committee and the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing on the bill.
Members of the Commerce and Government Matters Committee will get a report Thursday on the latest tool used by Maryland police departments to crack down on motorists who run red lights.
Cameras mounted on poles photograph vehicles that run red lights, and tickets are sent to the owners of the vehicles.
Police say cameras can be a valuable tool in curbing the dangerous practice of rushing through a light that has just changed to red.
The House Judiciary Committee will get an update Thursday on the Glendening administration's efforts to correct problems in the state's juvenile justice system.
The briefing will be given by Bishop Robinson, who was brought in almost two years ago in a shake-up of top management following revelations of abuse at military-style boot camps.


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