Digest

DIGEST

January 12, 2008

State: General Assembly

Study sought on cost of illegal immigration

A Republican proposal to create a task force to study the cost of illegal immigrants in Maryland drew the backing yesterday of Democratic Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

"We need a comprehensive look at the issue," Miller said. "The state's getting overwhelmed by people for whom English is a secondary language. We need to assess both the benefits and the costs. If there aren't benefits, then how do we best deal with the situation?"

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, introduced the task-force legislation and has made illegal immigration, including border security, one of his platforms as he challenges U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest in the Republican primary.

Sen. Andrew P. Harris, who represents Baltimore and Harford counties and another Republican contender for Gilchrest's seat, has introduced another bill that would ensure that in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in Maryland are limited to legal Maryland residents. O'Malley supports extending in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

Miller referred to a study by last year by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers that found that Hispanics pump about $9 billion annually into North Carolina's economy as consumers and taxpayers. The study also found that the influx of new workers also holds down wages.

Laura Smitherman

Bill will support divesting Iran funds

Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to propose legislation aimed at divesting any state funds from Iran, following last year's push to restrict investment in Sudan.

Maryland wades into the international issue after U.S. relations were further strained this week by a confrontation in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, where five Iranian boats took aggressive actions near three American naval vessels.

The Sudan divestment, championed by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, won wide support in the General Assembly. It required that the state review its retirement and investment holdings with an eye toward divesting from companies doing business in the country.

The Iran divestiture bill drew support from House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller yesterday. "It's aimed at the government of Iran and not the people of Iran," Miller said.

Laura Smitherman

Eastern Shore

: Environment

Officials oppose pollution controls

A plan by state environmental officials to force tougher pollution controls on large poultry farms is raising complaints from lawmakers in both parties who worry the state is trying to set up a burdensome "chicken police."

The plan by the state Department of the Environment to require large chicken farms to get pollution permits similar to the ones already required for large hog and cow farms has lawmakers from both parties alarmed.

The plan isn't final yet, but a panel of lawmakers from the Eastern Shore, where Maryland's poultry industry is concentrated, attacked the proposal yesterday.

Associated Press

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