State Roundup: Laid-off workers vent extreme frustration over filing unemployment claims

State Roundup: Laid-off workers vent extreme frustration over filing unemployment claims

The State House in Annapolis (MarylandReporter.com file photo)

UNEMPLOYED TROUBLED BY JOBLESS FILING: Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday heard stories of despair and frustration from constituents who experienced trouble filing for unemployment insurance benefits on the state’s website, Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter reports.

  • Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard), chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, presided over Tuesday’s virtual hearing along with Sen. Delores Goodwin Kelley (D-Baltimore County), chair of the Finance Committee. (Screenshot)

    Residents described spending entire days on hold with state call centers and sending repeated emails, trying to reach a Department of Labor staff member who might be able to help. When Senate leaders announced Tuesday’s hearing, more than 1,100 residents signed up to tell their stories, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.

  • Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post quotes Bliss Martin, who was laid off on March 31 and was told Monday that her benefits would be coming soon: “I had to go through hell. Mentally, it was exhausting. It was depressing.” Martin and others said they have gone weeks — some even months — without any money from unemployment. Others have received money only to have their benefits abruptly stop.
  • Maryland residents struggling to get their unemployment benefits are leveling blame and criticism at a new online website meant to streamline the claims process, Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record.

HOGAN TO ANNOUNCE NEW PHASE TO REOPEN: At a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m. today, the AP is reporting that Gov. Larry Hogan is set to make an announcement about the first stage of the state’s recovery efforts in response to the coronavirus.

  • Gov. Hogan is expected to announce the relaxing of some restrictions on business and gatherings as hospitalizations due to the coronavirus pandemic have reached a plateau, but Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said officials don’t yet feel comfortable with the reopening, Alison Knezevich and Luke Broadwater report for the Baltimore Sun.
  • Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that Maryland isn’t yet in a position to lift coronavirus-based restrictions, but Gov. Larry Hogan has outlined an eventual plan for how it would work. What are the current restrictions and what will the future look like?
  • Deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 rose Tuesday — both in Frederick County and across the state — a day before Gov. Larry Hogan is set to make an announcement on his roadmap to recovery, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports.

STUDY: MANY THINK STAY-AT-HOME ORDER IS A SUGGESTION: While Maryland’s six-week-old stay-at-home order remains in effect, data released Monday by researchers at the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland shows many residents have come to regard the order as a mere suggestion, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

USM Chancellor Jay Perman (USM.edu)

USM TO RESUME ‘SOME IN-PERSON TEACHING:’ University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman said the system’s colleges are “planning to resume at least some in-person teaching and learning” in the fall, after the novel coronavirus forced most campuses nationwide to close down during the spring semester, Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal.

CHILD-CARE CENTERS WORRY ABOUT BIZ VIABILITY: Although the Maryland State Department of Education has made reimbursement payments and given grants to child care centers that remain open for the children of essential personnel during the coronavirus pandemic, some providers remain concerned about the short- and long-term viability of their businesses, Daniel Oyefusi of the Sun is reporting.

NURSING HOME RESIDENT REINFECTED: Family members want answers after a Maryland nursing home resident contracted the coronavirus for the second time, Kai Reed of WBAL-TV is reporting.

OP-ED: DELEGATES SAY HOGAN CLOSED DOOR ON EQUITABLE EDUCATION: “During the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly passed landmark works of legislation to address historical racial and socioeconomic disparities in our education system. … The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on these disparities. … Instead of rising to meet these challenges, Gov. Hogan decided to veto the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – closing the door on equitable education for students across our state,” Dels. Darryl Barnes and Alonzo Washington write in an op-ed for Maryland Matters.

CITY ANNOUNCES $13M RENT AID PROGRAM: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young on Tuesday announced a $13 million rent relief program. Tenants who make less than 80% of the area’s median income will be able to get help paying their April, May and June rents, WBAL-AM is reporting.

Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott

MAYOR’S RACE: PROFILE OF BRANDON SCOTT: At 36, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott is a generation younger than some of his fiercest competitors to lead the city, and he is campaigning on the promise to usher in a new way of thinking in City Hall, Talia Richman writes in this first in a series of profiles of the mayoral candidates.

CARROLL HELPS SOME BUSINESSES STAY OPEN: If an employee for a business in Carroll County tests positive for COVID-19 it doesn’t necessarily mean the business has to close, Mary Grace Keller of the Carroll County Times reports. Instead, the county will work to ensure the safety of the workplace.

CARROLL ED BOARD, COMMISSION MEET OVER BUDGET WOES: In a joint meeting of Carroll County’s Board of Education and Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, the two bodies struck a cooperative tone as both face turmoil — with budget deadlines looming — thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Catalina Righter of the Carroll County Times.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin

RASKIN TAPPED FOR PANEL WATCHING COVID-19 RESPONSE: U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery, Carroll and Frederick counties) is among the seven House Democrats named to a new select committee set up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to monitor the federal response to the pandemic. The panel will hold its first hearing this afternoon, Robin Bravender of Maryland Matters writes.

INSURER RETURNS TO MARYLAND: UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, will again offer policies in Maryland next year, Gov. Hogan announced on Tuesday. Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that the firm, which pulled out of the Maryland market in 2017, has filed to offer individual health plans through the Maryland Health Connection in 2021.

PURPLE LINE FOES APPEAL JUDGE’S RULING: Opponents of Maryland’s Purple Line are appealing a federal judge’s recent decision to throw out their third lawsuit against the light-rail project, Katherine Shaver of the Washington Post is reporting.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online news outlet, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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