HOGAN CONDEMNS GOP SENATORS FIGHTING BIDEN ELECTION: Gov. Larry Hogan on Sunday condemned an attempt by Republican senators to overturn the results of November’s presidential election by voting not to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, Christine Condon of the Sun reports.
- Hogan wrote on Twitter: The American people—not the politicians—elect the president. The scheme by members of Congress to reject the certification of the presidential election makes a mockery of our system and who we are as Americans, WJZ-TV staff reports.
LAWMAKERS ZOOM FOR CASH: Over the past few years, early January has seen about 60 fundraisers in the frantic days leading up to session; this year, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have limited the volume somewhat, with about 40 on the docket between now and the Jan. 13 session kickoff, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.
HOUGH: GOP EYES AID FOR SMALL BIZ: Senate Minority Whip Michael Hough said that state Republican legislators will focus on helping small businesses and reducing crime, reports Bryan Renbaum for Maryland Reporter.
2021: YEAR OF KIRWAN? Lawmakers returning to Annapolis in two weeks may undertake a reshuffling of priorities in an education bill vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the Kirwan Commission’s overhaul of public education, formally known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, calls for an increase in funding for public education. It was passed in the last days of a session that ended early because of the coronavirus infection.
HBCU FUNDING BACK ON AGENDA: As schools head into the spring semester and the Maryland General Assembly heads into its 2021 session, legislators are highly concerned about ending a 14-year-long legal battle alleging that Maryland has academically and financially prioritized its historically white institutions over its historically Black colleges and universities, Johanna Alonso of the Daily Record reports.
FATE OF STATE’s GOP U.S. ATTORNEY: With the inauguration of a new president on Jan. 20, Maryland’s top federal prosecutor must decide if he will seek to become a political anomaly like his predecessor — a Republican U.S. attorney who stays on in a Democratic administration, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.
AFSCME, STATE FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT: Maryland’s largest public employee union announced New Year’s Day that it had failed to reach an agreement with the state on a labor contract for the first time in more than 10 years, Christine Tkacik reports in the Sun. The deadline for bargaining was 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
- The Post’s Ian Duncan writes that Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Council 3, said the state offered a 1% raise for the budget year beginning July 1, but it would have been contingent on revenue outpacing budget projections by $200 million. Moran said the union was seeking a 4% bump and step increases, which he described as in line with what police officers and firefighters will receive.
- This is the first time that the union and the state could not settle upon an agreement since former Gov. Bob Ehrlich Jr. (R) was in office, writes Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters.
HOUSING CRISIS TARGETED IN PACKAGE: A Housing Justice Package for upcoming General Assembly session pushes five legislative proposals aiming to tackle the “ongoing housing crisis” and stem the risk of eviction faced by hundreds of thousands of Marylander, Kelly Powers of the Salisbury Daily Times reports.
STATEWIDE BODY CAM MANDATE CONSIDERED: Lawmakers are pushing for a statewide mandate requiring every police department in Maryland to equip officers with body cameras. But the cost for equipment and maintenance of the footage may be the biggest challenge, Ryan McFadden of the Capital News Service reports.
SUNDAY: 2,148 NEW COVID CASES, 27 DEATHS: Maryland reported 2,148 new cases of the coronavirus and 27 more deaths Sunday as the state’s average testing positivity rate rose above 9% for the first time since June, Phil Davis of the Sun reports. Sunday’s additions bring the state’s total to 285,319 cases of COVID-19, and 5,826 people who have died due to the disease or complications from it.
- As COVID-19 cases again increase by 1,000 in one week, the number of deaths in females and Black residents is trending slightly downward, the latest Frederick County figures show, Mary Grace Keller of the Frederick News-Post reports. Frederick County’s cases totaled 11,652, deaths numbered 188 and the seven-day positivity rate stood at 10.8 percent, the Frederick County government website showed Saturday. There were no new deaths and 134 new cases reported over the past 24 hours.
DEATHS HIGH AMONG SENIORS, VACCINES ARE RARE: The vast majority of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Maryland are among seniors, reports Mike Sunnucks for the Easton Star Democrat. But the first waves of vaccinations are not going to seniors and are skewing younger.
OPINION: DEATH OF A LOVED ONE: In a commentary for Maryland Reporter, Dr. Shobhit Negi of Baltimore writes about the enduring and painful loss of his beloved mother to Covid-19, halfway around the world.
HO CO 1st RESPONDERS GET VACCINE: The Howard County Health Department received its first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine last Wednesday and administered it to some of the first responders from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the Howard County Police Department. The individuals vaccinated will receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days after the first dosage, Ana Faguy of the Howard County Times reports.
NEXT PHASES IN PUBLIC ED: While about half of students in the country will be able to go back to their school buildings this week, those in Central Maryland will remain glued to computer screens in their bedrooms and kitchens with no clear idea of when they might get back to in-person classes, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports.
- 2021 will bring more new challenges as the next phase of pandemic learning is scheduled to begin if metrics allow: hybrid learning. Pre-kindergarteners through fifth-grade students are set to begin hybrid learning on Feb. 2 at Anne Arundel County Public Schools, with special education, English language learners and Center of Applied Technology students possibly in buildings even sooner, Selene San Felice of the Capital Gazette reports.
- Carroll County’s Board of Education is scheduled to make another decision between virtual and hybrid learning on Monday night. The county’s top-ranking health official is advising against sending Carroll County Public Schools students back inside buildings, Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.
- Starting Monday, all instruction from Frederick County Public Schools will be virtual, Hannah Himes of the Frederick News-Post reports. The announcement this weekend brings to an end all small group instruction and winter sports practices due to COVID-19 metrics, according to a news release from FCPS.
- In a Dec. 31 letter to parents, St. Mary’s County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith postponed a return to school buildings by students scheduled for January. Smith noted that special education students were slated to begin returning to schools on Monday, Jan. 4. That was halted due to health data metrics being above the 5% COVID-19 test positivity rate and 15 cases per 100,000 recommended by state officials, Caleb Soptelean of Southern Maryland News reports.
OPINION: WILL GENERAL ASSEMBLY ATTACK LEARNING LOSS? In Part 1 of a two-part opinion piece for Maryland Matters, Kalman Hettleman opines that there’s “rare agreement among educators and policymakers that learning loss must be the paramount priority as schools try to recover from the pandemic. But, since the combatants in the education wars hardly ever declare a truce, the agreement over learning loss seems too good to be true — and it is.”
BA CO OFFICIALS DROP LONG-PLANNED SCHOOLS FROM CAPITAL PROJECTS: Baltimore County school officials stunned the school board when they recently released a list of proposed capital projects that does not include replacements for Dulaney and Towson high schools. On Tuesday, the board is expected to hear from the administration on why those two projects, which for years have been on the capital projects list, have now vanished, reports John Lee for WYPR-FM.
WHAT’s NEXT FOR TALBOT BOYS? The Talbot Boys statue is believed to be the only statue to Confederates still standing on public ground in Maryland. Even as the Talbot County Council continues narrowly to support the memorial — most recently, the body voted 3-2 in August to keep it in place — opponents have been growing more organized and developing a louder voice, writes Jonathan Pitts for the Sun.
HORSESHOE CRABS AND COVID-19: Maryland’s horseshoe crabs are harvested live and from them is extracted blood that has been the worldwide testing-standard for decades, saving countless lives from infection by screening everything from insulin shots to breast implants. And now the coronavirus vaccine. Tim Prudente of the Sun writes about the industry.
OPINION: THE LABEL IS ‘NO LABELS:’ Political opinionator Frank DeFilippo, in a column for Maryland Matters, opines that Gov. Larry Hogan’s ” ‘No Labels’ is a label. It’s a political variation on the idea of making the pitch by withholding the product. It’s camouflage. It’s duck-and-cover. It’s a cop-out.” He contends: “The Bobblehead is a better idea. Bouncing around on a pick-up-truck dashboard next to the hip-jiggling girl in a hula skirt is a constant reminder of an existential presence.”
ONLINE ED LEADER TO TAKE OVER UM GLOBAL CAMPUS: A veteran online education leader and English scholar who has pushed for workforce-oriented programs serving students at all stages of adult life is poised to take over today as president of the University of Maryland Global Campus, Nick Anderson of the Post reports.
RASKIN’s SON DIES, MEMORIAL FUND SET UP: U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and his family announced on Saturday the launch of a memorial fund in the name of Thomas Bloom Raskin, whose death was reported on Thursday. In the announcement of his son’s death at 25, Raskin described the family as devastated, Martin Weil of the Post reports.
- Raskin had announced the death of his 25-year-old son in a statement Thursday evening, saying his family was “devastated” by the loss, Meagan Flynn of the Post reports.
JOHN O’BRIEN, FORMER STATE PERSONNEL SECTY, DIES AT 84: John F.X. O’Brien, who served in the Maryland General Assembly representing Northeast Baltimore and was later the state personnel secretary, died Dec. 21 of stroke complications at Brightview Senior Living in Rosedale. He was 84 and had lived near Loch Raven Reservoir, Jacques Kelly of the Sun reports.