MILLIONS SPARED FROM BPW BUDGET CUTS: The Board of Public Works on Wednesday morning voted 2-1 to approve Gov. Larry Hogan’s request to cut $413 million from the state’s FY 2021 budget —a 2.07% reduction from the general fund, reports Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter. The $413 million cut is significantly smaller than the $672 million cut that Hogan had originally proposed.
- Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) voted against the cuts. She said the state should not reduce expenditures until the fiscal picture is clearer and other options have been explored, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.
- In a 2-to-1 vote, the board stripped funding from universities, community colleges, crime initiatives and dozens of other state programs, and approved selling off state-owned aircraft and eliminating 92 vacant state jobs, Erin Cox reports in the Washington Post.
- Senate President Bill Ferguson credited Kopp and Franchot with having “mitigated the worst of these cuts,” writes Jeff Barker for the Sun. “Unless the federal government takes action, what we saw today is a forecast of things to come,” Ferguson said.
- Hogan warned delaying cuts too long will result in more painful cutbacks later. One way or another, he said, Maryland must cut an additional $205 million from its budget, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. “We have to find alternatives to that $205 million … not cutting is not an option,” Hogan said.
- Washington County’s $5.7 million disparity grant increase is safe for the time being, but as the state continues its COVID-19 related budget cuts, that might change. The money, which is given to less affluent jurisdictions, was included in more than $205 million of proposed reductions removed from the Maryland Board of Public Works’ agenda prior to Wednesday morning’s meeting, Alexis Fitzpatrick of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
$190M IN FED AID FOR SMALL BIZ, ED, NONPROFITS: Gov. Larry Hogan has outlined $190 million in federal COVID-19 relief for small businesses, higher education and nonprofit organizations, the AP reports. Hogan announced Tuesday that $45 million will be allocated to expand a program to help small businesses. It awards grants of up to $10,000 to businesses of 50 or fewer employees.
JUNE SAW FEWER NEW COVID CASES: With the state’s coronavirus pandemic entering its fifth calendar month Wednesday, Maryland saw fewer new confirmed infections of COVID-19 in June than in either April or May, according to state data, Nathan Ruiz of the Sun reports.
- Here’s the Sun’s daily Covid-19 update.
- An additional resident of a Sykesville nursing facility has died of COVID-19, according to the Carroll County Health Department, and the county has seen nine new cases since Tuesday. The resident, of Birch Manor Healthcare Center, is the 17th who has died after contracting the disease there, Brian Compere reports for the Carroll County Times.
HEALTH OFFICIALS MONITOR BEACHES: Worcester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has reported just 286 COVID-19 cases, disproportionately low for even this mostly rural county. But with summer in swing, people are flocking to the county’s beach. Ocean City can pack in hundreds of thousands of people a week, and crowd-weary state and public health officials are keeping an eye on the sand — and warning Maryland will reimpose restrictions if needed to stem any surge in infections, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.
ATTEND FIREWORKS WITH CAUTION, OFFICIALS SAY: Public safety and health officials are urging safety first when it comes to traditional Fourth of July fireworks displays, preferring attending of public events over use of consumer fireworks, Jeremy Alderton of the Cumberland Times–News reports. In fact, those same officials, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, prefer any use of fireworks to be left to the professionals.
ARUNDEL SEES GOOD RETURN ON CONTACTING TRACING: Connecting with people positive with COVID-19 and tracing potential exposure — a process called contact tracing — is a critical tool used to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading further and one of the core principles of public health. While Anne Arundel County health workers are able to identify all residents who test positive, around 8% of people don’t return calls or can’t be reached, a “really good” response rate, according to Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Lilly Price of the Capital Gazette reports.
OPINION: PESSIMISTIC ON POLICE REFORM: In an op-ed for Baltimore Brew, David Plymer opines that he is pessimistic that the Police Reform and Accountability Work Group formed by Maryland Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones will produce meaningful change. When asked about her expectations for the 14-member group, state Sen. Jill Carter laughed and told The Brew, “Nothing.”
DEL. ACEVERO SAYS HE WAS FIRED FOR REFORM STANCE: When Del. Gabriel Acevero, who is employed by a union local, introduced a bill last year to roll back protections for police accused of misconduct, he was stepping on a potential fault line. His union represents thousands of Black and Latino workers in food services and at a variety of government agencies. It also includes a small portion of workers in law enforcement. In mid-June, Acevero filed a formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the union of illegally firing him because of his reform advocacy, reports Noam Scheiber for the New York Times.
TANEY NAME REMOVED FROM SHIP: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s name has been removed from a historic warship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor by the Living Classrooms Foundation amid an ongoing national reckoning over monuments and other historical ties to racism.
GROUP TO PROBE USE OF FORCE IN HOWARD POLICE: A Washington, D.C., based group, headed by the former leader of the New Black Panther Party, announced Wednesday an investigation into the use of force against Black people and systemic racism by the Howard County Police Department, Ana Faguy reports for the Howard County Times.
JUDGE FOUND WRONG TO OVERTURN $38M PAYOUT: A Baltimore County judge was wrong to overturn a jury verdict awarding $38 million to the family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old Randallstown woman who was shot and killed by county police in 2016, a state appeals court has ruled, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports.
COLLEGE PARK ACCREDITATION REAFFIRMED: The University of Maryland, College Park’s accreditation was reaffirmed last week — a recognition required for students to receive federal financial aid, reports Elizabeth Shwe for Maryland Matters. The school had been placed on warning last year by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, months after the death of College Park football player Jordan McNair.
MO CO SCHOOLS TO PROBE ‘CULTURE’ AFTER HARASSMENT CLAIMS: Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith announced Wednesday evening that school district officials will “take a deep look into the culture that exists in our schools” after hundreds of social media posts were made last week detailing students’ experiences with sexual assault and harassment, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat reports.
FREDERICK ALDERMAN: DECLARE RACISM A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS: A Frederick alderman wants to declare racism to be a public health crisis in the city, Ryan Marshall reports for the Frederick News-Post. A resolution proposed Wednesday by Alderman Derek Shackelford would commit the city to “honestly and directly addressing minority health inequities, education, employment practices, economic mobility, and other factors that impact the social determinants of health,” according to a summary of the resolution.