NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT TODAY: Philip Van Slooten of Capital News Service reports that an update to Maryland’s hate crimes law, named for slain Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, is one of several anti-discrimination measures going into effect Oct. 1. Other notable bills address crime, the environment and healthcare.
- Maryland is strengthening its hate crime law so prosecutors don’t have to prove that hate was the only motivating factor in committing a crime, as new laws take effect this week, the AP reports.
- A new law preventing discrimination based on hairstyles is set to take effect this week in Maryland along with dozens of others ranging from the expansion of the definition of a hate crime to a requirement for colleges and universities to develop outbreak response plans, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
- A flurry of new laws take effect in the region Oct. 1, with the vast majority in Maryland. They include the nation’s first statewide ban on foam food containers, and a trio of laws passed earlier this year to address violence against people of color, report Erin Cox and Fenit Nirappil for the Post.
FRANCHOT: 2nd STIMULUS VITAL FOR MARYLAND: Despite better than expected revenue projections for Maryland’s budget, Comptroller Peter Franchot said he is still very concerned about the state’s economic future and that federal assistance is needed. “… if there’s a second federal stimulus we could be in a better position than we thought we were going to be in. If there isn’t a second federal stimulus we’re in a deep hole,” Franchot told Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.com on Wednesday.
FOCUS ON WORKING POOR, LOSS OF SAFETY NET: A panel of Maryland lawmakers is calling for a renewed focus on working poor and finding ways of preventing the sudden loss of social services benefits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Almost 10% of Marylanders live on incomes below the federal poverty level, and a disproportionate number of them are African American, according to a recent report on individuals who rely on public benefits to make ends meet. Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes that the United Ways of Maryland’s 182-page report highlights the problem of people falling off the “benefits cliff:” when someone works extra hours and receive more income, then loses hundreds of dollars in benefits, such as for food stamps and medical assistance.
POST SUPPORTS BALLOT QUESTIONS: A Post editorial supports the two statewide ballot questions. “The legislature’s unique budgetary impotence, and the state’s increasingly lonely ban on sports betting, are net minuses, “ the editorial says. “Two ballot questions this November aim to put the Old Line State in line with other states. That is a major part of the argument for both of them, … both could redound to the benefit of taxpayers.”
LOWER STUDENT TALLY MEANS FEWER SCHOOL DOLLARS: The exact enrollment numbers for Baltimore area school won’t be known for several weeks, but on Wednesday every school systems in the state will tally its students as part of an annual count required by state law. The decline is expected to be significant in some school systems — and unless state officials step in, the consequences for public school funding for next year could be devastating, Liz Bowie reports for the Sun.
BALLOT DROP-OFF BOXES ARRIVING: Starting this week, the first wave of what will eventually be hundreds of large ballot drop-off boxes are being stationed across Maryland, Jack Moore of WTOP-FM reports. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many regular polling places are shuttered; and election officials are urging voters to vote by mail, even as there are deep concerns about sluggish delivery times by the U.S. Postal Service.
MTA NIXES PLAN TO CUT B’MORE BUS SERVICE: The Maryland Transit Administration will not move forward with a plan to cut inner-city bus service in and around Baltimore, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.The decision to reverse course on the wide-ranging service reductions followed pushback from commuters, employers, families with school-age children and political leaders.
- Instead, writes Colin Campbell in the Sun, the agency’s commuter buses and MARC trains, which have seen deeper and more sustained drops in ridership this year, will offer reduced service beginning in November. Service will be adjusted “as needed to meet demand,” MTA chief Kevin Quinn said.
CENSUS COUNT TO END OCT. 5: As a national legal battle over the 2020 census continues, the deadline for the once-in-a-decade count changed again this week — another abrupt twist for local officials trying to make sure Marylanders are counted. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Monday that the census will end Oct. 5, reports Alison Knezevich for the Sun.
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.
BA CO TEACHERS WORRIED ABOUT REOPENING: Some Baltimore County teachers are concerned about the district’s reopening plan, which wants to bring back students and teachers at separate day schools in November, making them the first group to return to the classroom. Kelly Yalfani is a music teacher at Ridge Ruxton School, whose students have disabilities and underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, Ray Strickland reports for WMAR-TV.
CARROLL TEACHERS’ STRESS ‘THROUGH THE ROOF:’ Mike Hellgren of WJZ-TV reports that the president of the Carroll County teachers union says educators remain concerned about their safety—with many scheduled to return to the classroom Monday and some students coming back for in-person instruction two weeks later. “Their anxiety levels and stress levels are through the roof,” said Teresa McCulloh of the Carroll County Education Association.
B’MORE TEACHERS PROTEST RETURNING TO CLASSROOM: Several teachers in Baltimore City are against potentially returning to the classroom anytime in the near future, Tre Ward reports for WBAL-TV. The Baltimore Teachers Union held a rally outside of the school district’s headquarters Wednesday evening.
- Speakers voiced concerns about the safety of both teachers and students if the district decides to move to in-person learning and said repeatedly that employees and children are “under attack.” They also touted an online petition that has received more than 2,200 signatures that outlines what needs to be done for a safe return to school, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.
B’MORE OFFERS $2M IN SMALL BIZ AID: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced a $2 million grant fund for small businesses on Wednesday. The fund aims to help businesses reopen safely and recover from the pandemic, reports Sarah Kim for WYPR-FM.
REPORT PUTS BA CO HIGH SCHOOL REHABS AT $1.2B: A new report says that Baltimore County’s 24 public high schools require renovations and expansions that could cost up to $1.2 billion, Drew Jabin writes for Conduit Street.
HUD PROBE CLEARS CARSON: The inspector general’s office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs released an investigative report Tuesday that found no evidence that HUD Secretary Ben Carson used his position to benefit his son’s business interests in Baltimore, but he “could have done more to avoid the appearance that he was not complying with federal ethics regulations,” Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.