NEW CHIEF OF STAFF GOT SEVERANCE PACKAGE: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s new chief of staff walked away from his previous role running a state agency with a six-figure severance package that included a year’s salary, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. Roy McGrath, who left the Maryland Environmental Service voluntarily to become chief of staff, has a new salary of about $233,000 annually.
- The severance package included one year’s salary, $5,250 for tuition expenses, and permission to continue using the laptop computer and cell phone he had been issued by the agency, reports Le’Ondre Harris for WBFF.
- Friday morning Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones issued this statement: “Yesterday’s news about Mr. McGrath is truly shocking. This shows a clear lack of judgment to assume the role to the closest aide to the Governor of the State. Equally troubling, however, is the role that Maryland Environmental Services played in today’s news. We are asking the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight to immediately hold hearings on why this was permitted to occur and who reviewed the severance package; and what constraints should be put in place to prevent this from happening at any quasi-State agencies in the future.”
STATE OFFERS CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE: Maryland has opened a statewide hotline to report potential violations of executive orders meant to stem the spread of COVID-19, Phil Davis reports for the Sun. This joint effort of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and State Police contrasts with Gov. Larry Hogan’s previous statements urging local jurisdictions to take more control enforcing the orders.
- Anne Arundel libraries are scaling back reopening after patrons refused to wear masks, Selene San Felice reports for the Capital Gazette.
SCHOOL LEADERS CALL FOR MORE STATE GUIDANCE: Leaders of three Maryland school systems are asking for a clear state standard for school reopenings, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record.
- State education officials have developed guidelines for precautions schools should take once they reopen, but Montgomery County’s superintendent says there is no guidance for when to reopen, Caitlynn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat.
- Montgomery County Superintendent Jack Smith said with concerns like having enough rapid testing and adequate staffing levels, a standard is needed when reopening would be safe, Kate Ryan reports for WTOP.
- Local school systems are trying to prepare in the meantime. Washington County Public Schools have spent nearly a half a million dollars on personal protective equipment for faculty and staff, Sherry Greenfield reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Though students will start the school year virtually, teachers will be in the schools and will be using the equipment.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN ANNE ARUNDEL ASKED TO NOT OPEN: Anne Arundel County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman is asking private schools not to open for in-person instruction for the coming fall semester, Naomi Harris reports for the Capital Gazette. The health officer has set a number of steps private schools must meet if they do choose to open, including submitting a plan for review.
- Maryland Republican delegates are criticizing the letter, arguing it goes against the gubernatorial order that counties cannot enact blanket closures for private schools, Sarah Kim reports for WYPR.
LEGAL AID ATTORNEYS FIRED AFTER PUSHBACK ON REOPENING: Maryland Legal Aid fired four top attorneys last month after they sent a letter to their boss that pushed back against plans to reopen the offices during the pandemic, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Post.
HELPING CHILD CARE BUSINESSES: Frederick County will offer up to $2 million in grants to help child care centers and providers countywide pay for expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic, using money from federal relief funds, Steve Bohnel reports for the Frederick News-Post.
STUDY ON ANTIBODIES: “The Maryland Department of Health announced Thursday that it will collaborate with 13 of the state’s hospitals on a coronavirus antibody study to attempt to determine how many of the state’s residents have had the virus,” Nathan Ruiz reports for the Sun.
POSITIVITY RATE DISCREPANCY EXPLAINED: Experts at Johns Hopkins say their calculation for Maryland’s positivity rate was born from a need for a standard calculation among all states, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record. Although based on Maryland’s data, the calculation is different than the state’s positivity calculation.
SENATORS WANT TO PROBE MAIL DELAYS: Maryland’s two U.S. senators are calling on the U.S. Postmaster General to respond to reports of increased delivery times and costs as states prepare to have more voting through the mail, Lillian Reed reports for the Sun.
REACHING MORE NEIGHBORHOODS FOR CENSUS: In Baltimore neighborhoods, advocacy groups are racing to provide census outreach after the Trump administration announced it would end the count a month earlier than planned, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.
CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS KEEP CLIMBING: The St. Mary’s health officer is asking residents to be vigilant against the virus after the county passed its 1,000th cumulative case, Dan Belson reports for Southern Maryland News.
- Montgomery County’s known cases increased by 111 overnight, with 43% of total cases from Silver Spring-area zip codes, Briana Adhikusuma writes for Bethesda Beat.
BAR EXAM ISSUES DURING PANDEMIC: With “no good way to conduct a bar exam during a pandemic,” members of the General Assembly are imploring the Judiciary to allow recent law graduates to practice law without passing the bar exam, Hannah Gaskill reports for Maryland Matters.
RUTHERFORD ON ELECTION LEADERSHIP, PRIVATE SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford continues to call for the resignation or replacement of the state Board of Elections administrator Linda Lamone as the state prepares for an election amid a pandemic, he told C4 of WBAL radio on Thursday. He also called local health officials closing private schools “arbitrary decisions.”
MD HIGHWAY SYSTEM RANKED ON WORST LIST: A report released Thursday found Maryland’s highway system is one of the worst in the nation in part because of the level of congestion, reports Annie Rose Ramos for WJZ.
GARRETT DEFENDS SECOND AMENDMENT: The Garrett County Commissioners have declared their county a “second amendment preservation county,” Joseph Hauger reports for the Garrett County Republican.
COMMENTARY: SLAP ON WRIST SENTENCING CAUSES OUTRAGE: Voters are upset about the sentencing of a teen who participated in a deadly assault at the Great Frederick Fair to anger management and probation, Eric Beasley writes for a Miner Detail. This reveals the need for holding judges accountable through elections or other means, he opines, and asks people to fill out a complaint for unethical conduct about the judge.
COMMENTARY: JUSTICE REFORM DESPERATELY NEEDED: Sen. Jill Carter is calling for criminal justice reform reducing the numbers of people in prison to continue into a post-COVID-19 world, she writes for Maryland Matters. The “urgent imperative” to refashion policies for pretrial and post-conviction release created by the pandemic has allowed the system to depopulate state prisons, local jails, juvenile detention centers, and commitment facilities across the state.