MD FISCAL LEADERS CAUTIOUS ON UPBEAT REVENUE NUMBERS: Maryland’s state government budget has avoided catastrophic shortfalls so far during the pandemic-induced recession, largely due to federal coronavirus aid programs, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. But things could get much worse if there’s a second wave of the virus that requires a return to shutdowns or if Congress fails to approve another package of aid to families and businesses, state economic forecasters warned Tuesday.
- The state’s fiscal leaders cautioned that the good news comes with many caveats. The volatility of the coronavirus pandemic’s course and uncertain prospects for another round of federal aid could decimate their predictions as soon as December, Erin Cox is reporting for the Post.
- “It is impossible to responsibly craft sound public policy when we don’t know where the state is heading fiscally,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot, who chairs the panel. The board is forecasting that the state will collect more than $18.7 billion for the current fiscal year. The projection represents an increase of $1.4 billion compared to an update by the board in May, writes Bryan Sears of the Daily Record.
- David Farkas, acting director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, cautioned that new estimates could be very volatile and may change before the board makes final estimates in December that will guide the state’s budget process in 2021, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.
HARD HIT HOTEL INDUSTRY SAID TO NEED STATE HELP: The coronavirus pandemic has hit Maryland’s hotel industry extremely hard and the situation will only get worse if the state does not step in to help, according to the president and CEO of the Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association. “You’re going to see hotels going into bankruptcy. And permanent closures. And you’re going to see a lot more layoffs,” Amy Rohrer told Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.com.
STATE VOTERS TO DECIDE ON SPORTS BETTING: A decade after the first casino opened in the state, Maryland voters will decide whether to expand legalized gambling by permitting the sort of betting — on the Ravens, Orioles or other sports teams — that casinos and racetracks have long sought, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun. If Ballot Question 2 is approved in the Nov. 3 election, Maryland would join neighboring jurisdictions in allowing sports wagering that has proliferated as the nation’s attitudes toward gambling have relaxed.
OPINION: WAIT TO PASS QUESTION 2 ON SPORTS BETTING: The editorial board of the Sun opines “There’s little doubt that legalized sports betting will eventually make its way to Maryland. … And results from a February Goucher poll revealed that 45% of Marylanders supported such a gambling expansion and the revenue it might bring, even before the pandemic had devastated the country and the state’s earning potential. But it can wait two more years for the next statewide election. …we don’t know what that regulation would look like, nor have any guarantee the money will be used to educate kids”
STUDY: CONDITIONS IN PG MADE IT VULNERABLE TO COVID: Long before Prince George’s County reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in Maryland, the conditions that would make the majority-Black suburb vulnerable to the virus were present, according to a Rand report released Tuesday. Rachel Chason of the Post reports that overcrowded housing, high rates of uninsurance and preexisting health conditions are all more prevalent in the county than in the state and are concentrated in communities that have been hit particularly hard by covid-19.
MO CO RECORDS 91 NEW CASES IN DAY: Montgomery County recorded 91 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, an increase of 0.41% from Monday, Bethesda Beat reports. As of Tuesday, there have been 22,512 confirmed cases in the county, according to the Maryland Department of Health. One new death was recorded Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 808 confirmed deaths.
MANAGING THE MOPR: MARYLAND RESPONSE TO FERC ORDER: A divided Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order in December directing the PJM Interconnection to dramatically expand its Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) to nearly all state-subsidized capacity resources. The order will have a significant impact on the capacity market which serves Maryland ratepayers. Find out how retail rates will be impacted and what this directive could mean to mandated renewable energy supply goals during this FREE Webinar on October 1st, during a special extended session of the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s Connecting to the Energy Economy Speaker Series.
HOWARD BALLOT DROP BOXES OPENED: Starting today, six boxes became available around Howard County for residents to drop off their mailed election ballots. The secure drop boxes are options for voters who requested mail ballots and prefer them to using the U.S. Postal Service. Three more locations will be added between Oct. 15 and 17, Jacob Calvin Meyer reports for the Howard County Times.
LAWMAKERS MAKE CONCERTED CENSUS PUSH: Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes about state reps pushing the census in communities that they represent. The census response rate here in Baltimore Highlands is 35%, said Del. Robbyn Lewis (D), which is well below the city’s overall response rate of 56%. “We are going to knock on every single door,” Lewis, one of three delegates representing the neighborhood in the General Assembly, told the group of 20-some volunteers. “And our federal government hasn’t made it any easier, but we are pushing back,” said Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City), who also represents the neighborhood.
CHERYL GLENN REPORTS TO PRISON: Former Del. Cheryl Glenn has reported to a low-security federal prison in Danbury, Conn., to serve her sentence on a bribery conviction, reports the Sun’s Justin Fenton. Glenn, 69, was sentenced in July to two years in federal prison for accepting thousands of dollars in bribes, in what a judge called “a deliberate scheme to take advantage of her political power.”
MD REPUBLICANS GATHER TO WATCH DEBATE: Though the coronavirus pandemic radically changed almost all campaign year festivities, tradition remains for some Maryland Republicans who gathered Tuesday night to watch the first presidential debate together, reports Olivia Sanchez for the Capital Gazette. Very few of the 45 attendees wore masks.
EMMITSBURG MAYOR RE-ELECTED TO 4th TERM: Don Briggs was re-elected to his fourth term as Emmitsburg’s mayor Tuesday in a three-way race where campaigning was complicated because of the coronavirus pandemic, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports. Briggs defeated former mayor Jim Hoover and longtime commissioner Cliff Sweeney for the seat. Joe Ritz, a commissioner, was re-elected after running unopposed.