As 2017 approaches, state lawmakers from Prince George's County plan to address university funding and gun control policies in the new Maryland General Assembly session.
The 2016 session wrapped in April with bills providing aid to projects in Baltimore, passing a $42 billion budget, investing in renewable energy, expanding equal pay protections, enforcing police officer accountability and prioritizing transportation partnerships.
State Sen. Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat representing Prince George's County, said he plans to focus on protecting the University of Maryland's budget and money set-aside in the budget to revitalize Route 1 when the 2017 session begins Jan. 11.
"The governor made some budget cuts this year," Rosapepe said. "We don't want to slip back into the terrible position we were in 10 years ago with one of the highest tuition rates in the country."
Maryland was the eighth-highest in-state resident tuition in 2006 according to the College Board. The College Board now ranks Maryland as the 27th highest state when it comes to in-state tuition rates.
Rosapepe also plans to pursue legislation that would create stricter gun control policies in the state, including a bill sponsored by Delegate Ben Barnes last year that would impose harsher punishments for those who are caught bringing firearms on college campuses.
Rosapepe said he also hopes to pass "no fly, no buy" gun control legislation to "keep people on the no fly list from getting guns," although he and his colleagues have not yet discussed specific plans for legislation in the 2017 session.
Barnes' "Weapon-Free Higher Education Zone" passed the House of Delegates in March 2016, but failed to pass in the state Senate.
The bill was supported by Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk who also represents Prince George's County.