State Roundup, June 7, 2019

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PLANNING BOARD REJECTS I-270 BELTWAY STUDY: The agency that is in charge of planning and parkland in the Washington, D.C., suburbs rejected a key Maryland State Highway Administration document on Thursday, setting up a possible showdown between local planners and the state over the Hogan administration’s plan to widen Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters. In its rejection, agency members concluded that the Maryland Department of Transportation didn’t offer a wide enough array of options — or provide enough supporting information — for it to sign on.

  • In his Political Notes column for the Frederick News-Post, Steve Bohnel writes that traffic on I-270 was a major issue among Frederick County voters during last fall’s election season. At Wednesday’s Board of Public Works’ hearing, some key changes were approved: moving the I-270 expansion up to the first phase of the project versus the Beltway component, adding a study for a monorail system that would link Frederick to the Metro’s Red Line and allowing commuter buses to use the toll lanes free of charge.

NEW BAY BRIDGE FOES PUSH FOR ALTERNATIVES: As Maryland officials prepare to take a critical step toward deciding how people will cross the Chesapeake Bay for decades to come, they face growing criticism that the effort is bypassing options that don’t involve building a new multibillion-dollar bridge, the Bay Journal’s Jeremy Cox writes in MarylandReporter.

4 UMMS EXEC RESIGN: Four top executives at the University of Maryland Medical System have resigned amid investigations into accusations of self-dealing among the hospital network’s board members, the system announced Thursday, Luke Broadwater and Kevin Rector of the Sun write. Also, Kristin Jones Bryce, previously vice president of external affairs and system integration and once a top aide to late House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, was named the hospital network’s new chief of staff. The staffing changes are effective June 21.

BLUEPRINT FOR THE NATION?: Maryland’s big plan for education reform is still in the beginning stages in many ways – funding formulas and a long-term budgetary plan still need to be finalized – but national education leaders on Thursday hailed it as a “Blueprint for the Nation”, Danielle Gaines writes in Maryland Matter. “The Maryland plan, if implemented nationwide, could do what the education reform movement has not been able to do: give the United States, once again, the best educated workforce in the world,” said Marc S. Tucker, founder and president emeritus of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which highlighted the Maryland plan during a half-day program and in a new report calling on other states to replicate the work of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

INVASIVE BLUE CATFISH: Rocky Rice heads out on the Potomac River as soon as it’s light enough to see. Mostly, it’s not blue crabs he’s after, but blue catfish. Christina Tkacik and Scott Dance report that with white bellies and long whiskers, the invasive blue cats have been appearing in recent years in rivers and creeks up and down the Chesapeake Bay. They voraciously eat fish, crabs and clams — whatever they can find, biologists say — and can grow into rounded 100-pound blobs of grayish-blue scales.

CUMMINGS WANTS GUARANTEE ON TUBMAN $20: Rep. Elijah Cummings expressed “significant disappointment” at the Treasury Department’s delay in placing Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bill, and asked for a commitment that the department won’t abandon the plan to honor the Maryland-born abolitionist leader, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.