State Roundup, May 18, 2016

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CITY SCHOOLS ASK BPW TO RECONSIDER: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Baltimore City school officials have asked the Board of Public Works to reconsider what they called a “punitive and unreasonable” decision to withhold $5 million in school construction money if the system doesn’t install window air-conditioning units in 2,000 classrooms by August. House Speaker Michael E. Busch backed the school system, accusing the board majority — Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot — of intruding on the powers of the General Assembly. He said lawmakers could review the board’s role during next year’s legislative session.

POLLUTION MEASURED OMITTED: Josh Hicks of the Post writes that Maryland officials left a key pollution measure out of a glowing assessment released this month of the state’s compliance with federal air-quality standards. An annual report from the state Department of the Environment touted Maryland’s progress in meeting federal guidelines for air pollutants such as nitrous oxide and ground-level ozone. But it neglected to mention sulfur dioxide, which can cause asthma and other breathing problems.

SUNLIGHT ON ELECTION REVIEW? State officials say they are focusing on about 60 precincts in their review of irregularities in Baltimore City’s primary election — a process they agreed Tuesday night to open to the public after a judge was asked to intervene, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

30 BOTTLENECKS IN MARYLAND: A new report released Tuesday identifies the top 30 traffic bottlenecks in Maryland, including two in Anne Arundel County, and urges state leaders to maintain the recently increased pace of roadway funding, Pat Furgurson of the Annapolis Capital reports. The report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, cited the intersections of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at Route 175 and I-195 northbound, as two of the worst spots in the state. You can access the report at the bottom of the article.

ENERGY AGENCY GETS NEW DIRECTOR: Maryland’s lead agency on energy policy has a new director just one day after the organization’s former director departed for a new job within state government, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. The appointment of Mary Beth Tung, the former deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, to the Maryland Energy Administration also could signal a potential for a merger of the agency and the environment department as Gov. Larry Hogan undertakes a review of state government in a search for opportunities to consolidate and find efficiencies.

IN WAKE OF GRAY’S DEATH, TALK OF REFORM: From police relations and prison reform to poverty and urban blight, Freddie Gray’s death and the following unrest in Baltimore City brought a spotlight to issues the city has been facing for a long time, said state Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore, and the Democratic nominee for mayor. “We’re paying attention to things as simple as lighting in neighborhoods, something that probably would not have gotten the attention that it’s currently getting,” Pugh said in March. “No question that Freddie Gray has had a great impact.” CNS’s Lexie Schapitl writes about the  impact of Gray on reforms in MarylandReporter.com.

SARBANES NAMED TO OPIOID CONFERENCE PANEL: U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County will serve on a conference committee charged with reconciling the vastly different opioid addiction bills passed by the House and Senate, offering him an opportunity to help address one of Baltimore City’s most intractable problems. The five-term lawmaker was one of the few Democrats to shepherd a bill through the House last week intended to mitigate a national increase in heroin and prescription drug overdoses.

CUMMINGS HONORED: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings,a Baltimore Democrat, received  the Greater Baltimore Committee’s  Howard “Pete” Rawlings Courage in Public Service Award Monday for his leadership after last year’s riots and his work in Congress on behalf of the city, reports Joanna Sullivan for the Baltimore Business Journal.

CARDIN PUSHES GARLAND: Relying on the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation, Sen. Ben Cardin pointed to history on Tuesday to make his case for filling the court’s current vacancy with nominee Merrick Garland, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

EDITOR AWAY: Editor Len Lazarick is away. If there is a problem with roundup or the newsletter, contact roundup editor Cynthia Prairie at cynthiaprairie@gmail.com; if there is a problem with the website or one of the stories published there contact Meg Tully at megctully@gmail.com.