HOGAN RELENTS, OKS 360-CENTER VOTE PLAN: Gov. Larry Hogan has approved a plan to offer just 360 voting centers across Maryland for the November election despite what he said were “serious concerns” about the proposal, Emily Opilo and Pamela Wood of the Sun report. Hogan’s decision, issued via a proclamation late Monday, gives the State Board of Elections authority to proceed with the voting center plan as an alternative to opening roughly 1,600 polling places this fall.
- Hogan relented on his earlier directive to open every precinct across the state for “a normal” election, a plan that had sparked a revolt among election judges unwilling to put their health at risk to volunteer at the polls, Erin Cox of the Post reports.
- In signing off on the proposal, Hogan still expressed reservations, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. “I remain very concerned that the board’s decision to close nearly 80% of the polls will have the potential of creating long lines and unsafe conditions, with crowds of people being forced into too few polling places,” Hogan said in a letter to the board.
LAWMAKERS PRESS USPS FOR STAFFING: Frustrated lawmakers made surprise visits Monday to post offices in Dundalk and Essex, as the U.S. Postal Service said it was reviewing its staffing following complaints of severe mail delivery delays in the Baltimore area, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports. “They need a lot more people,” U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County said. “We are setting ourselves up for a perfect storm as more Americans turn to mail.”
HOGAN WEIGHS TRUMP JOBLESS BENEFIT ORDER: Gov. Larry Hogan has not weighed in on President Donald Trump’s plan to give more money to unemployed workers, a plan that relies on financially-strapped state governments to help pay for it, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun. “We are currently reviewing the legal ramifications of the order, as well as its potential impact on the state budget,” Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said in a statement Monday.
- Matthew Barakat of the AP reports that whether President Donald Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order remains unclear. Equally up in the air is whether states, which are necessary partners in Trump’s plan to bypass Congress, will sign on.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that. in a tweet Monday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan said that “while Maryland welcomes any relief, there is no substitute for a real bipartisan agreement.” State Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson told state lawmakers in July that Maryland will inevitably have to borrow from the federal government to replenish its unemployment benefits fund.
DELEGATES LAMENT CONVENTION CHANGES: Maryland delegates to the national political conventions lament the loss of camaraderie and tradition that accompanies the change in this year’s events, caused by the pandemic. Bruce DePuyt and Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters interview a number of people.
PANDEMIC’s DOMINO EFFECT ON TRANSIT: The coronavirus pandemic and the recession it generated have disrupted transportation plans in the Washington region more than any events in memory, officials and analysts say. Metro is facing the worst financial crisis in its history. Highway and bridge projects are delayed or in doubt. Increased use of telework has reduced commuting — but could trigger an exodus from downtown that adds to suburban traffic, Robert McCartney of the Post is reporting.
WEDDING BIZ CHANGES: Concerned Marylanders — some of them in the wedding business — worry that current rules do little to keep weddings in check. The regulatory landscape has put couples, guests, vendors and venues in a sticky situation, as they decide whether to throw or attend large weddings that are legally permissible but remain concerning because of COVID-19?s potential spread, Christine Condon of the Sun reports..
ARUNDEL SPENT $44M OF $101M CARE FUND: Since April 23, Anne Arundel County has spent more than $44 million of $101 million received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports. Among it was: $5 million helping small businesses reopen safely; $3 million to fend off evictions and utility shut-offs for renters; $2 million for residents unable to qualify for unemployment insurance and $1 million for three new ambulances.
UM MED SCHOOL RECRUITS VACCINE TESTERS: The University of Maryland School of Medicine and about 30 other U.S. centers have begun recruiting thousands of volunteers living in COVID-19 hot spots to join the nation’s most advanced trial for a vaccine against the disease, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun.
COLLEGE REOPENING PLANS: Phil Davis, Nathan Ruiz and McKenna Oxenden of the Sun write that as the fall semester approaches, Maryland’s colleges and universities are announcing plans and guidelines for how they plan to hold classes while containing the spread of coronavirus. They offer a sampling of what some of the schools in the area are doing.
WACO HITS 1,009 COVID CASES: Washington County topped 1,000 COVID-19 cases over the weekend with the county’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center on Monday reporting a total of 1,009 cases since the pandemic began, Alexis Fitzpatrick of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
PROGRESSIVES LAUNCH LEADERSHIP SCHOOL: The activist group Progressive Maryland, working with partner organizations, has launched a program to train and educate potential candidates for office and other political advocates, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports. The first session for what’s being called the People’s Leadership Institute program launched at the end of July, with a cohort of 18 leaders, activists and Progressive Maryland members. It is due to last through mid-September.
RACIST GRAFITTI PROBED IN CALVERT: On Sunday evening, the Calvert County Peaceful Resistance in Southern Maryland Facebook page posted photos of racists words spray-painted onto the field on Calvert High School, writes David Higgins for the Southern Maryland Chronicle.
- The pictures, depicting racist graffiti on the Calvert High School football field, have led the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to say they are now “investigating all avenues of this crime,” Zach Hill of Baynet reports.
BRANDON SCOTT JOINS PUSH ON BIDEN VP: Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott on Monday joined a coalition of high-profile Black male figures urging presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate, Daniel Oyefusi of the Sun reports.
PROBE INTO B’MORE GAS EXPLOSION: Investigators from the state’s Public Service Commission, which is charged with regulating utility companies, were there alongside federal and local inspectors at the site of a natural gas explosion in Northwest Baltimore Monday that killed one woman, left seven injured and leveled three homes, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.