State Roundup, June 17, 2016

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RENEWED PUSH ON GUNS: In the wake of the Orlando, Fla., massacre, top Maryland Democrats plan to renew a push to ban people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns here, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Thursday the legislation will be “a top priority” for next year’s session, and he will call lawmakers back to Annapolis before then for briefings.

BUSCH OBJECTS TO CARET RAISE: House Speaker Michael E. Busch objected Thursday to awarding an extra $105,000 to the head of the University System of Maryland, a decision he called inappropriate at a time when students are struggling to pay the cost of a degree, Michael Dresser and Carrie Wells of the Sun report.

UNINTENDED TUITION HIKE: Last year, the USM Board of Regents approved a plan to impose an additional tuition charge on junior and senior students in three majors at the University of Maryland, College Park that are in high demand and cost more to teach. But some students could end up being charged the additional rate — known as differential tuition — for more than just two years, particularly if they pursue a minor or second major. Some regents say they plan to revisit the issue when the board reconvenes this fall, Daniel Leaderman of the Daily Record writes.

EXPUNGEMENT LESSONS: Maryland courts have been flooded with expungement requests since changes went into effect in October, with more coming as part of the massive Justice Reinvestment Act passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. A session to be held this morning at the Maryland State Bar Association’s annual meeting, aims to bring lawyers and judges up to speed on changes affecting expungement, Heather Cobun writes in the Daily Record.

SCHOOL MAINTENANCE REVIEWS: A proposal to dramatically slash the number of schools reviewed in an annual maintenance audit is meeting with strong opposition from Gov. Larry Hogan, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes.

JUDGE CONSIDERS PURPLE LINE DELAY: At a crucial hearing on the lawsuit brought by a group of Chevy Chase residents against the Purple Line in federal court Wednesday, the judge considered the possibility of putting the light-rail project on hold for six months to analyze the effect that Metro’s recent woes could have on its projected ridership, Joe Zimmerman of Bethesda Beat writes.

HOGAN ENDS OPPOSITION TO COAL-ASH WATER: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration announced Thursday that it is withdrawing its opposition to a Dominion Virginia Power plan to release coal-ash water into a Potomac River tributary after the utility company agreed to stricter testing standards, Antonio Olivo of the Post writes.

ON HOGAN & TRUMP: On Dan Rodricks’ Roughly Speaking podcast, Republican analyst Richard Cross and UMBC professor Kimberly Moffitt comment on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s declaration that he won’t be voting for Donald Trump for president, and we look at how Trump’s aggressive position on immigrants and terror have affected his campaign.

SRB EYES STATE CENTER: The long-delayed redevelopment of State Center is the next major project Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants tackled as part of efforts to revitalize Baltimore’s core. While celebrating Caves Valley Partners’ purchase of the Metro West Complex — a vacant 1 million-square-foot office portfolio hindering Westside revitalization efforts — the mayor said State Center should be handled next, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports.

BA CO SCHOOL CONSIDER MUSLIM HOLIDAYS: After more than a decade of advocacy by the Muslim community, the Baltimore County school board appears poised to vote on whether to designate two Muslim holy days as school holidays. A school board subcommittee is recommending the move, which has also been considered by other school systems around the state. The full board is expected to vote next month on the proposed policy that would close schools for up to two days a year, reports Liz Bowie for the Sun.

SCHEDULING SNAFUS: Among Danielle Gaines’ Political Notes for the Frederick News Post is an item about a missing Republican dinner speaker. The Frederick County Republican Central Committee had scheduled a Lincoln-Reagan Dinner and announced that U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of  Kentucky would be speaking. But that dinner was canceled and Massie’s named showed up on another event for the same day. But that didn’t work out either.

CARROLL MULLS CHARTER GOVERNMENT: Heather Norris of the Carroll County Times writes that the Carroll County Board of Commissioners opened the door Thursday to discussions on whether to replace the form of government the county has operated under since its founding. Commissioner Doug Howard requested that the board be briefed by staff on the details of how a switch from a commissioner form of government to a charter government could occur.

Passing bison on the road in Yellowstone.

Passing bison on the road in Yellowstone.

NATIONAL PARKS TOUR: Rocks, water and fire and how they interact over millions of years. That’s the theme Len Lazarick came away with after a wonderful, arduous three-week vacation in May to seven national parks out west.