State Digest

STATE DIGEST

February 14, 2007

Scholarships for veterans budgeted

The O'Malley administration has budgeted $500,000 this year for a new college scholarship program aimed at military veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials said yesterday.

The scholarship was approved last year by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. It is designed to cover 50 percent of annual tuition, fees and living expenses at a typical Maryland four-year public college, with a maximum award of $8,850 per academic year.

"Maryland owes its veterans a debt of gratitude for their service in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and these scholarships provide assistance for the higher education that they and their families so rightly deserve," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

Scholarship applications are due by March 1 for the academic year beginning in September. The money can be used at most public and private colleges in Maryland.

Priority will be given to veterans, but their immediate relatives may also apply. Veterans of the U.S. armed forces or Maryland National Guard who have served for at least 60 days in Afghanistan since 2001 or in Iraq since 2003 are eligible, officials said.

Gadi Dechter

Baltimore

Civil rights papers to be online

The law library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore is now the official repository of documents produced by the United States Commission on Civil Rights under a new partnership with the federal government.

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library will continue an effort, begun in 2001, to digitize all commission publications and make them freely accessible to the public via the Internet. The commission, in turn, has agreed to provide the library with electronic versions of all new publications, as soon as they are produced.

"By providing access to the historical record of this important federal agency, the Thurgood Marshall Law Library will offer the public an opportunity to examine the efforts of the Commission more closely, while aiding the Commission in its role as a clearinghouse for information about civil rights," commission staff director Kenneth L. Marcus said in a statement.

The commission, founded in 1957, is an independent government agency that investigates complaints of civil rights discrimination.

The effort to digitize and convert civil rights documents into a format useful for students and researchers began informally in 2001 as a resource for a voting rights class, said Bill Sleeman, the library official overseeing the project. Sleeman continued the project when he realized there was no central, searchable archive of the commission's publications, which include landmark reports from the 1960s on voting, housing, education and employment.

Gadi Dechter

Annapolis

Pollution measure advances

Tougher emissions standards for new cars sold in Maryland got the endorsement of a House of Delegates committee yesterday, moving one of Gov. Martin O'Malley's priorities closer to passage.

The House Environmental Matters Committee voted 17-4 to recommend the "clean cars" bill to the full House.

The committee amended the bill to add two provisions, one that would require the state to perform a study in 2013 to make sure the tougher pollution standards were working and another to require the Maryland Department of the Environment to consider the potential impact on blind people of having more hybrid cars on the road. The National Federation of the Blind has raised concerns about whether blind people might accidentally step out in front of hybrid cars because they are much quieter than standard engines.

Brad Heavner, director of Environment Maryland, said neither of the amendments weakens the bill. "It's great to see we had a strong bipartisan vote, and hopefully the same will be true through the House and full Senate," Heavner said.

Andrew A. Green and Tom Pelton

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