Legislative Digest

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

April 04, 2009

House OKs capital budget of $1.1 billion

The Maryland House of Delegates approved a $1.1 billion capital budget Friday on a 124-13 vote. Some Republicans objected to a $150 million increase in the state's borrowing limit. The capital program would direct $260 million to school construction, the amount requested by Gov. Martin O'Malley. It would provide $52.5 million to replace aging medevac helicopters and nearly $120 million for a land preservation program.

Laura Smitherman

Senate tries to block D.C. insurance law

Maryland lawmakers took steps Friday to block a recent District of Columbia Council law that requires CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield health insurance to enroll 2,500 Washington residents. Opponents of the law say the insurance company would be forced to pay for the new clients by drawing from premiums paid by its Maryland customers, mostly in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. CareFirst projects losses of more than $160 million over five years by enrolling what it calls "difficult-to-insure District residents." A bill that advanced Friday in the state Senate would require the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to hold a hearing if another government enacts a law that requires a nonprofit health service plan operating in Maryland to provide for the residents of the other state.

Julie Bykowicz

Jobless benefit increase advances

The General Assembly is poised to authorize a $30 weekly increase in unemployment benefits. Under a bill advanced Friday by the Senate, the maximum weekly benefit would increase from $380 to $410, starting in October. A year later, the maximum weekly payment would rise to $430. The House has already passed the measure.

Gadi Dechter

Howard Del. Turner treated for blood clots

After a series of medical complications left him on a respirator after routine surgery March 20, Del. Frank S. Turner has taken a turn for the better, an aide said Friday. The Democrat from Howard County ended up in intensive care at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center after kidney stone surgery. However, the 14-year General Assembly member was able to resume breathing on his own Thursday and is expected to make a full recovery after further surgery for blot clots, said the aide, Cindy Donaldson. Turner, 61, is not expected to recover in time to rejoin the legislature before adjournment April 13, she said.

Larry Carson

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