VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANDS: Maryland will move into the next substage of its coronavirus vaccination plan beginning next week, Bryan Renbaum reports that Gov. Larry Hogan announced. Monday will mark the beginning of vaccinating those 75 and older and people of any age living in assisted living, developmental disability or behavioral health group homes.
- Hogan said about 30% of the state will be vaccinated by May, but younger and healthier people could wait until the summer or after, McKenna Oxenden and Hallie Miller report for the Sun explaining when people will get vaccinated in the updated rollout plan.
- Educators including K-12 teachers, support staff and child care workers will also be eligible for the vaccine, Greg Swatek reports for The Frederick News-Post.
- Montgomery County officials are again pressing the state to boost the local supply of vaccines after being “astounded” last week that they got less than the previous week, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
- The state is also launching a pilot program for COVID-19 vaccines to be administered at Giant and Walmart pharmacies beginning the week of Jan. 25, when eligibility will be expanded again, the staff of Eye on Annapolis report.
JUDGE UPHOLDS DINING BAN: A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge again upheld the city’s ban on indoor and outdoor dining on Thursday, Amanda Yeager reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. Saying the legal challenge would “have little to no success” if brought to a full trial, he denied a temporary injunction on the latest efforts by local restaurants and an industry advocacy group to roll back restrictions put in place amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.
COX TRAITOR TWEET ‘HAS BEEN HANDLED:’ House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones told a reporter that a controversy surrounding a delegate who was in Washington D.C. on the day of the riot “has been handled,” Hannah Gaskill reports for Maryland Matters. Del. Dan Cox faced calls for expulsion after he called Vice President Mike Pence a traitor that day. In a statement, he said the Frederick buses left the event early.
REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CHANGE: Two senior Republican leaders in the House of Delegates have told other Republicans this session will be their last leading the caucus, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record. Dels. Nic Kipke and Kathy Szeliga, House minority leader and whip, said it’s time for new leadership.
BUSINESS GROUPS CALL FOR BETTER BROADBAND: A group of business organizations said Thursday that a lack of uniform broadband access is creating a “digital divide” and is an impending crisis, Holden Wilen reports for Baltimore Business Journal. State lawmakers have said broadband access will be a priority in the legislative session that began Wednesday.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON WORKING TOGETHER: Maryland General Assembly members hope to find common ground responding to the pandemic this session, but Democrats are “more inclined than Republicans” to blame the Hogan administration for shambles in unemployment insurance, Melissa Gerr reports for WYPR’s On The Record.
AUDIT OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: Anne Arundel County election officials will spend Friday doing a state-mandated manual audit to make sure that presidential ballots were counted correctly by ballot-counting machines, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
TAKEOUT ALCOHOL COULD BE LEGALIZED: “Want to enjoy the sunset from a hotel balcony or beach rental with a margarita, but don’t want to go out and get it?” Matthew Prensky writes in the Salisbury Daily Times. Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would legalize carryout alcohol and also help restaurants and bars stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
VETO OVERRIDE POSSIBLE ON DIGITAL AD TAX: Maryland is poised to be the first state in the nation to impose a tax on digital advertising, when Democrat-controlled General Assembly has the opportunity to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the bill, Emily Zantrow reports for The Washington Times.
SPOUSAL TESTIMONY BILL HEARD: Spouses would not have protections from testifying against each other if the wedding occurred after the crime under a bill proposed in the General Assembly, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record. The bill was before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
SCHOOLS, SPORTS RESUME IN SOME AREAS: Baltimore City schools are planning to return some students to the classroom in the second semester, with the youngest students returning Feb. 16, Tim Tooten reports for WBALTV.
- Anne Arundel plans to return to hybrid learning by March 1, Ray Strickland reports for WMAR.
- High school sports are to continue in Carroll County even though the county health officer has said indoor sports are placing strain on health department and school systems for contact tracing, Kristen Griffith reports for the Carroll County Times. “I understand the need for education to be a priority but the extracurriculars are killing us a bit,” Health Office Ed Singer said.
- Despite having nearly identical COVID-19 numbers, the two neighboring school boards have made drastically different decisions in recent months. Jacob Calvin Meyer reports for the Baltimore Sun Media Group.
REPUBLICAN DIVISION IN WAKE OF CAPITOL RIOT: The Capitol riot and subsequent impeachment of President Trump have widened divides within the Republican Party, and in Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Trump critic, and the lone Republican congressman U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, haven’t spoken in more than a year, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun.
MOCO CLAIMS HIGH VACCINATION RATES: Montgomery County is claiming that it has one of the highest rates of vaccine administration in the state, and it has some justification, Adam Pagnucco blogs for The Seventh State. As of Jan. 13, Montgomery had administered 63% of the vaccines it received compared to a statewide average of 36%, but has vaccinated less of its population than other counties.