Morgan State University in snow.

The drawn-out lawsuit that could reshape Maryland’s public universities

In a development well off the radar screen, a federal judge in Baltimore last week issued an order that marks the most recent stage in a controversy that has been percolating for years. The so-called “Coalition Case” involves a lawsuit against the state brought by supporters of Morgan State University and the three other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Maryland. The plaintiffs have been seeking a judicial order requiring Maryland to provide a range of specific remedial actions to make the HBCUs more viable and competitive with other universities in the state.

New Hampshire Debate Google Trends

Commentary on final GOP debate before N.H. primary

Not a strong first half of the debate, but a much better second half. It may have been a consequential night for the candidates. Not a good night for Rubio, certainly not in the first half of the debate; a strong night for Christie; a good night for Bush; a pretty good night for Kasich, Cruz and Trump, who was a little less egocentric and baiting than usual -- a little. Commentary by Rick Vatz and Len Lazarick.

Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, Mary Ellen Barbera

13 new Maryland judges proposed at cost of $4.1M

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Thursday that there are not enough Circuit and District judges in Maryland, which has resulted in courts being overloaded with cases. Barbera testified in favor of SB 117, a bill the judiciary asked for that would add a total of 13 judges around the state at a total estimated cost of $4.1 million including support staff in its first year. The judiciary has included $3.8 million in the fiscal 2017 budget to pay for the new judges.

Del. Mary Washington speaks to senior citizens from Baltimore at the United Seniors of Maryland Legisltive Forum.

House bill aims to increase and redistribute senior center funding

Del. Mary Washington believes the state has a duty to better fund senior citizen centers that enable seniors to age in place. That's why the Baltimore Democrat is sponsoring a bill to increase the Senior Citizen Activities Center Operating Fund and also set a strict formula for its distribution, Washington told a Baltimore caucus at the United Seniors of Maryland Legislative Forum in Annapolis Wednesday.

Gov. Larry Hogan gives State of the State address as Senate President Mike Miller, left, and House Speaker Michael Busch listen.

Tone of Hogan speech was bipartisan, but Dems aren’t singing along with familiar tune

The tone of Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address to the legislature Wednesday was far more conciliatory than last year. But for many Democrats the tune was all too familiar, and they weren’t singing along. Addressing the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, he used the word “together” 26 times and the word “bipartisan” six times in his half-hour speech.

Senate Budget & Tax Committee discusses new ways to assess property taxes, PG hospital funding

Instead of conducting a physical property inspection, the state would use satellite imagery and other technologies to assess home values, under a bill presented to the Maryland Senate’s Budget and Tax committee on Wednesday. Senate President Mike Miller also testified in favor of a bill that would allocate state and county funding for a new local hospital in Prince George’s County.

Big chicken

Big chicken companies would pay to remove manure, not farmers

Maryland legislators and contract farmers hired by companies to grow chickens are proposing the Poultry Litter Management Act that would require major animal agriculture companies to pay the cost of properly disposing excess manure on their contract farms. It's a fairness issue, it has an adverse impact on our environment and we need to clean it up,” said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, “and those individuals who are making the mess need to clean up the mess.”

Montgomery County education subcommittee

Montgomery delegate seeks voting in school board elections for immigrants, students

The Montgomery County House Delegation Education committee approved a proposal that could allow legal aliens and 16 and 17 year old students to vote in local school board elections. Del. David Moon, a Takoma Park Democrat and sponsor of MC 25-16, said that with Montgomery County's rise of legal immigrants, non-citizen parents should have the right to vote in county school board elections.

Franchot

The perils of rhetorical excess

We are in an era of political figures engaging in speech that is extreme and inflammatory. Hoping for attention in that noisy environment, many give into the temptation to employ outlandish analogies and historical references that are wildly inappropriate.