In The Region

March 13, 2009

Laurel Park to appeal ruling on slots

Laurel Park will appeal a court ruling rejecting the horse track's attempt to get back into the bidding for a slots gambling license, officials said yesterday. This week, an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge upheld a state decision to toss out Laurel's application for a slot machine license because of its failure to pay $28.5 million in required license fees. The track contends that its literal reading of the gambling statute led it to conclude that the fees were not legally refundable and were therefore an unconstitutional seizure by the state. In his ruling, Judge William C. Mulford II said the statute is "ambiguous" but that Laurel's interpretation "is in direct conflict with the concept of a license fee" and therefore unreasonable. "The court specifically noted that it had to look past the clear language of the statute," said Laurel Racing Association attorney Alan Rifkin. "That's contrary to the well-recognized rules of statutory construction." Meanwhile, a state commission charged with evaluating slots applicants voted unanimously yesterday to quash Laurel's "bid protest" over the fairness of the license fee. The action leaves a proposal for a casino and entertainment complex at Arundel Mills mall as the sole bidder for Anne Arundel's gambling license.

Gadi Dechter

Md. center to seek foreign business

Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled a multipronged plan yesterday to help Maryland companies gain access to international markets and to draw more foreign investment to the state. Noting that those goals are particularly important in an uncertain economy, the governor announced the formation of the Maryland International Business Center, a one-stop shop for foreign companies looking to expand operations here and for companies seeking export assistance. He also announced the creation of an incubator partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park to leverage the institution's research capabilities to attract foreign companies to the state.

Laura Smitherman

Fraling is named chief of gun investigations

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy has promoted veteran prosecutor Matthew Fraling to chief of the city's firearms investigation unit. Fraling, a team captain in the state's attorney's homicide division, replaces Doug Ludwig, whom Jessamy recently named chief of her police-misconduct division. Fraling has been with the office since 1988. His new job involves oversight of the city's attempted-murder and weapons cases but also requires a significant amount of recordkeeping. The unit must regularly report its activities to the state and federal agencies that finance its operation.

Melissa Harris

Frece to lead EPA's Smart Growth office

John W. Frece, a longtime advocate for growth-control policies, has been tapped to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Smart Growth. Frece, of Annapolis, has been associate director of a national Smart Growth center at the University of Maryland. In his new position, he will supervise a $1.4 million, 18-employee office at the EPA promoting walkable, more environmentally sensitive communities. He served seven years on the staff of Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Before that, he covered politics and state government for The Baltimore Sun and United Press International in Annapolis.

Timothy B. Wheeler

Women's Hall of Fame gets 5 new members

Five women were scheduled to be inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame last night in Annapolis. The women - Anne St. Clair Wright, founder of Historic Annapolis; Ilia Fehrer, a wildlife and land conservationist; Diane E. Griffin, director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute; Harriet Legum, a breast cancer survivor, advocate and fundraiser for breast cancer research; and Brigadier Gen. Allyson Solomon, the first woman and African- American to be appointed as a senior commander in the Maryland Air National Guard - were presented with a governor's proclamation.

Brent Jones

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