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Annapolis briefs

March 28, 2002

Committee eyeing air service subsidy


ANNAPOLIS - A local lawmaker has been appointed to the conference committee that will decide the fate of Hagerstown's Clipper Connection to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, will be a nonvoting member of the operating budget conference committee, which is scheduled to meet Friday and Saturday.

The conference committee will decide whether to preserve the $2 million grant that subsidizes the air service from Cumberland and Hagerstown to BWI.

The Senate voted to strip the money, but the House voted to keep the money in the state's $22 billion operating budget.

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House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, has expressed confidence that the grant will be make the final cut.

Munson said he will do what he can to preserve the grant.

"I don't have a vote but I can speak out a little," said Munson.

Lottery allowed to join new game


ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Lottery has won permission from the legislature to join a new multijurisdictional lottery game.

Lottery officials haven't decided which game to join, but possibilities include a new game similar to Maryland's Big Game that is being offered by the International Lottery Alliance next spring or the Lotto South multi-state game that was started in September.

All but one Washington County lawmaker voted in favor of the bill, which must still be signed by Gov. Parris Glendening.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said he opposes expanding the lottery.

"That's expanding gambling and I've said all along we don't need to expand gambling," Mooney said.

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimates the state's coffers would grow by $5.5 million in fiscal year 2003 and $12 million in fiscal year 2004 if the state joined the new international lottery game.

House OKs roadblock to CareFirst deal


ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland House of Delegates has passed a local lawmaker's bill that would hinder CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's effort to become a for-profit health insurance company.

Del. John P. Donoghue's bill would prevent CareFirst from selling its BlueCross and BlueShield trademarks as part of WellPoint Health Network's $1.3 billion acquisition offer.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 134-1 and now moves to the Senate. It's one of several bills under consideration by the legislature to raise roadblocks to the deal.

Donoghue, D-Washington, has been working to scuttle the deal, which he said he believes will hurt patients.

"Ideally I'd love to see this General Assembly halt the entire issue, end the process entirely. If that doesn't happen we still have some safeguards in place," he said.

- Laura Ernde

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