SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PLAN HEARD: County and city leaders highlighted the desperate state of some of the schools in their communities to a panel of Maryland lawmakers on Thursday, reports Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter.com. Their testimony was in support of legislation that would provide more than $2 billion over the next five to ten years for school construction and renovation throughout the state.

  • Showing strength in numbers, seven of Maryland’s county executives and the mayor of Baltimore sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the hearing, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.
  • The $2.2 billion would come from bonds issued by the Maryland Stadium Authority, reports Luke Broadwater with the Sun. The bonds would be paid back over 30 years using $125 million a year in casino revenues set aside in a so-called education “lockbox.”
  • Yet officials from one rural county told lawmakers Thursday that a plan to fix inequities in state school construction favors larger urban jurisdictions and would force many rural counties to fight for table scraps, reports Bryan Sears for The Daily Record.
  • There are dueling proposals before lawmakers — the $2.2 billion proposed by Democratic lawmakers and the $3.8 billion package proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan, reports Tyler Waldman for WBAL NewsRadio. The House Appropriations Committee heard testimony on the Democrats’ proposal.

GOVERNOR RACE CASH: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot posted a whopping $1.5 million in campaign cash when he filed his latest state finance report last week, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Franchot has announced he plans to run for governor two years from now.

LEGISLATION TO BENEFIT COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS: Del. Ken Kerr. a longtime professor who recently retired from Frederick Community College, has proposed legislation that would assist students who receive an associate degree from that institution, reports Steve Bohnel for the Frederick News-Post.

HETTLEMAN RECOMMENDED FOR SENATE: Del. Shelly Hettleman on Thursday night was recommended by members of the Baltimore County Democratic State Central Committee for the District 11 Senate seat, reports Wilborn P. Nobles III for the Sun.

CUMMINGS POLITICAL HEIR IN QUESTION: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is happy to have her late husband’s long shadow loom over the race even as other candidates question her claim that he wanted her to succeed him, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun on the race for the 7th Congressional district that had been represented by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

7THDISTRICT RACE BALLOT CHANGE PROPOSED: An emergency bill making its way through the Maryland Senate could shorten the ballots for voters in the 7th congressional district this spring, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.

HOGAN RETURNED CONTRIBUTIONS: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has returned nearly $63,000 in campaign contributions after the Maryland Democratic Party accused dozens of his donors of violating election law by contributing above the limit, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

JUDGE ELECTION DEBATE CONTINUES: Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera called for the abolition of contested elections to circuit court judgeships, arguing the judiciary must be truly independent, reports Steve Lash for The Daily Record.

CARROLL CHURCH MARCHING FOR LIFE: St. John Roman Catholic Church of Westminster will be taking nearly 100 people to Washington, D.C., to join the March for Life on Friday morning, reports Akira Kyles for the Carroll County Times.

BALTIMORE EYES CHANGE TO GET RIDESHARE TAX: Baltimore City lost out on at least $2.1 million from rideshare companies Uber and Lyft the past few years, after failing to collect on a 25-cent tax, reports Paul Gessler for WJZ.

BAY BRIDGE GOES BACK TO CASH, FOR NOW: Returning to “standard tolling” around the clock at the Bay Bridge should help advance work toward full-time, all-electronic tolling by summer, reports Kelly Powers by the Salisbury Daily Times.