KAMENETZ TO EXPEDITE AC INSTALL: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said that the county would speed the installation of air conditioning by providing tens of millions of dollars in funding so all elementary and middle schools will have central air by fall 2017, Liz Bowie and Pamela Wood report for the Sun.
- The decision by Kamenetz was the latest development in a battle over how to cool classrooms and accelerates the county’s installation timeline by one year, reports Josh Hicks in the Post. A divided state Board of Public Works voted 2 to 1 last week to withhold $15 million in school-construction funds from Baltimore and Baltimore County until they came up with a plan to have air conditioning in all classrooms by late August.
- WBAL-AM reports that Kamenetz said, “Despite the fiscally irresponsible suggestion by Gov. Hogan that Baltimore County waste money on temporary window air conditioning units, we insist on installing central air systems. Last week, Gov.Hogan withheld $10 million of state funds as ransom so that we would capitulate and install window units. It’s ridiculous that we have to advance the state’s share of funding to do the job right the first time.”
BALL IN HOGAN’S COURT: A state committee that oversees decisions on school construction requests voted Wednesday to refuse to decide how to withhold $15 million in funds for Baltimore County and City, punting the matter back to a board led by Gov. Larry Hogan, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
- The Sun editorial board opines that Maryland’s Interagency Committee on School Construction took a principled stand Wednesday when its members refused to become political tools of the governor and Comptroller Peter Franchot in their impossible demand that Baltimore city and county schools install window air conditioning in some 4,000 classrooms by the start of the school year in August.
FINAL BILL SIGNING TODAY: In his final bill-signing ceremony of 2016, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign measures that will change the way drunken drivers are punished and how police are disciplined, as well as another that makes a dramatic shift in how the criminal justice system deals with nonviolent drug offenders, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. The bills are among 143 pieces of legislation that Hogan will sign today, leaving about 100 more measures still waiting on his action.
- The man whose vehicle struck Montgomery County police Officer Noah Leotta, causing injuries that led to his death, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. In response to Leotta’s death, the officer’s family members and Montgomery County police officials lobbied the state legislature to require more ignition interlock systems in vehicles of convicted drunken drivers. Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to sign Noah’s Law into law today.
ELECTION REVIEW WRAPPING UP: State officials said Wednesday their review of Baltimore City’s primary election was nearing an end, as they continued to investigate why votes outnumbered check-ins at the polls, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun. Nikki Baines Charlson, deputy administrator at the State Board of Elections, said she expected workers to finish the review today. Officials have focused on 60 precincts — about a fifth of the city’s 296 — where irregularities were “significantly” greater than in other Maryland jurisdictions.
- Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts a local news roundtable on the Baltimore City elections, the controversy over Gov. Hogan’s denial of funds around air conditioning in the Baltimore City and county schools, and the process used to select the new CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.
BLUE CRAB BOON: Up and down the Chesapeake Bay, watermen are returning to shore with hulls brimming with blue crabs. To be sure, it’s a good season for the Chesapeake icon, writes Jeremy Cox in the Salisbury Daily Times. But it also represents a lucrative payoff after eight years of grudging sacrifice. Since 2008, Maryland and Virginia have put themselves on a strict diet, lowering the limit on the number of female crabs that could be harvested and ending the winter dredge fishery, among other actions.
PURPLE LINE: In Part 1 of the CNS series Purple Line Divided, Brittany Britto writes that the $5.6 billion Purple Line light rail project is moving ahead, but not without hardship for some residents and business owners. More than 500 properties within Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will be affected by the light rail line. Some will be affected temporarily by construction, but for others, the state has been buying out properties and forcing residents and business owners to move.
SZELIGA BACKS GARLAND HEARING: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga said in a statement Wednesday that she believes the Senate Judiciary Committee should vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, Danielle Gaines reports for the Frederick News Post. “A Supreme Court nominee should be given a fair hearing and should either be approved or rejected based on their merits. An automatic rubber stamp of yes or no based on your political allegiance is not good governing,” Szeliga wrote in a nearly 500-word message sent to supporters.