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Headlines: Baltimore Pensions, Memorial Day Travel, and A Violation Of MD's Open Meetings Law

The Baltimore City Council is considering Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposal to require civilian city employees contribute to their pensions. Despite a prediction that fewer Marylanders will travel over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the state's expecting more traffic at its toll facilities. A state panel has ruled that Baltimore's red light camera task force held a meeting in violation of MD's open meeting laws. MD has a new Natural Resources Secretary, but the Transportation Secretary post remains vacant. Baltimore County residents likely won't see a water and sewer rate hike this year, even if Baltimore City residents do. Plus: casino and gambling news, concussion regulations, another reactor shutdown at Calvert Cliffs, and more.

Baltimore Pension Plans: The Baltimore City Council is considering Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposal to require civilian city employees contribute to their pensions. The Baltimore Sun reports that the plan would have workers begin paying 1% of their earnings towards their pension in the coming fiscal year. The contribution would then increase each year until it reaches 5%. To offset that on workers' paychecks, Mayor Rawlings-Blake has proposed pay raises of two percent a year for the next five years. 

Memorial Day TravelMaryland transportation officials predict that 1.8-million motorists will pass through the state's toll facilities during the Memorial Day holiday period -- that's a 1% increase over last year's travel numbers. Those additional travelers are likely to be from out of state; earlier this week, AAA Mid-Atlanttic predicted that about 1.2 percent fewer MARYLANDERS will travel during the Memorial Day holiday period.

Camera Task Force Meeting In Violation Of State Law: Maryland's Open Meetings Compliance Board says that a Baltimore City task force violated state law, when it met behind closed doors in March. The task force was designed to study the city's speed and red light camera program. The Baltimore Sun notes that the ruling carries no penalty, however, a judge could assess a 100-dollar fine on members who "willfully" participated in the meeting.

Natural Resources Secretary Named; Transportation Secretary Post Still Vacant: Joseph Gill was sworn in yesterday as Maryland's newest Secretary of Natural Resources; he had been the DNR's deputy secretary.The Baltimore Sun reports that Gill replaces John Griffith, who's set to become Governor Martin O'Malley's chief of staff at the beginning next month. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Governor O'Malley is in talks with former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith about filling the Secretary of Transportation post; that position's been vacant for nearly a year.

The Proposed Hike In Baltimore's Water And Sewer Rates: Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke is speaking out against a proposed hike in Baltimore's water and sewer rates, telling the Baltimore Sun that the 15% increase requested by the Baltimore Public Works Department is "not affordable," particularly because it would come as the city imposes a new stormwater fee designed to pay for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. The city's water system also serves parts of Baltimore County... but County officials tell the Sun that they expect to be able to absorb the rate hike without imposing any increases on county residents. A public hearing on proposed rate increase will be held at the end of June.

Can City And Counties Work Together In Annapolis? WYPR's Fraser Smith and political consultant and columnist Laslo Boyd talk about how Baltimore may lack a major political leader in Annapolis after 2014, as well as House Speaker Mike Busch's new task force that will examine how the state can help the city's economic future, on today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Casino and Gambling News: Maryland's fourth casino could open as soon as today; the Baltimore Sun reports that the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Western Maryland is likely to be green lighted for operation either today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, the state's largest casino is looking to hire some 200 poker dealers. The Daily Record reports that Anne Arundel County's "Maryland Live!" Casino is planning to have 50 poker tables later this summer; the facility has hired a new Director of Poker Operations. And the Maryland Lottery has introduced a program designed to discourage problem gamblers from playing Lottery games. The Baltimore Business journal reports that this is an extention of a program that lets people voluntarily bar themselves from the state's casinos.  

Baltimore Looks To Demolish Vacants: Baltimore officials are beginning the process of moving around 80 residents from blocks containing mostly vacant homes, and slated for demolition. The Baltimore Sun reports that it's part of the city's plans to demolish some 15-hundred vacant houses over the next three years

Concussion Regulations: The Maryland Board of Education has approved new regulations designed to protect student-athletes from the effects of concussions. The Baltimore Sun notes that the regulations make permanent a set of emergency rules adopted last summer.

Calvert Cliffs Reactor Shut Down: For the second time in two weeks, a reactor has been shut down at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, in Southern Maryland. Officials say the unplanned outage occurred because of strong vibrations in the steam generator feed pump, with reactor unit two manually powered down at around 5:30 yesterday morning. Officials tell the Baltimore Sun that the outage is not related to the unplanned shutdown of the same reactor on May eighth

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles put an end to a six game losing streak yesterday, beating the New York Yankees 3 to 2 in ten innings. The O's take on the Yankees again tonight, in a home game set to start at 7:05pm.