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Budget crunch for universities, but capital projects move on

Budget crunch for universities, but capital projects move on

Maryland's fiscal 2016 budget could have been much worse for the state's higher education facilities, officials say, but the University System of Maryland will still feel the squeeze of a $47 million shortfall. As a result, institutions in the system can expect to face hiring freezes, larger class sizes and other service reductions in the coming year, said William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the university system. The budget adopted by lawmakers Monday made no cuts to what Republican Gov. Larry Hogan proposed for the university system in January — for which officials were thankful, Kirwan said — but carried over $40.3 million in cuts made by outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in early January.

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What will Md. Gov. Hogan do now?

What will Md. Gov. Hogan do now?

The ball is now in Gov. Larry Hogan’s court. Legislators closed out the 2015 General Assembly session passing a budget that, while containing no tax increases, was not the preferred plan of the new Republican governor. Furthermore, those same legislators passed supporting legislation that seeks to paint Hogan into a corner and force him to choose between spending non-mandatory education money this year or locking future governors into a mandate starting in 2017. The biggest question: Will the governor spend $200 million fenced off by lawmakers to pay for a non-mandatory education, state employee raises promised by former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley and a host of other priorities important to the Democratically controlled House and Senate?

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Amid acrimony, Hogan still praises bipartisan cooperation

Amid acrimony, Hogan still praises bipartisan cooperation

Gov. Larry Hogan ended his first 90-day General Assembly session praising the Democratic controlled legislature for working in a bipartisan fashion. "We had ins and outs here and there but overall we accomplished things in a bipartisan fashion," Hogan said minutes before both the House and Senate closed out the 2015 session. The governor's words come even as those same lawmakers left Hogan with a budget compromise he didn't want, passed heavily amended versions of his legislative priorities and finally passed a bill that many legislators hope will force Hogan to fully fund a non-mandatory education funding formula.

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General Assembly raises tort claims damages caps

The General Assembly passed legislation in the final hour of its 2015 session to raise to $400,000 the liability cap for state, county and local governments for negligent acts that injure people. The legislature also increased to $800,000 the cap on a county or local government’s liability on any single claim, regardless of the number of plaintiffs.In addition, individuals injured through the negligence of county or city employees will have up to one year from the date of their injury to notify the locality of their intention to sue.

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General Assembly passes divorce-by-settlement bill

The Maryland General Assembly on Monday passed legislation to enable married couples without minor children to divorce through settlement agreement and forgo the state’s one-year separation requirement before terminating a marriage. Both spouses would have to sign the agreement and be present when a judge grants their absolute divorce. The measure, if signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan, would go into effect Oct. 1.

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