DEMS PROPOSE $520M TARGETED RELIEF PACKAGE: Senate Democratic leaders Wednesday unveiled a $520 million coronavirus fiscal relief package aimed at helping both the state’s small businesses and its most vulnerable communities survive the pandemic, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes.
- The Senate’s “Recovery Now” plan runs a wide gamut of priorities: sending millions to food banks and fire departments; wiping out utility and rental debt for a few thousand families; awarding grants for businesses, artists and nonprofits; paying $1,000 to tens of thousands of people stuck in limbo in the unemployment system; restoring buses and trains to pre-pandemic service levels; and funding “wellmobiles” to administer doses of the coronavirus vaccine, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) called Gov. Hogan’s billion-dollar COVID-19 relief proposal “a great starting point,” but said the Senate’s amendment will provide more targeted relief to families and businesses who’ve been affected by the pandemic, Bennett Leckrone reports in Maryland Matters.
- About 40,000 Marylanders in “unemployment purgatory” could receive $1,000 direct payments under a $520 million plan proposed by Senate Democrats, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
D.C. GROUP WANTS REP. HARRIS PROBED: Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that a watchdog group is asking Washington’s top federal prosecutor to investigate whether Maryland Rep. Andy Harris violated the city’s firearms laws by bringing a gun to the U.S. Capitol last week.
MIZEUR RUNNING AGAINST HARRIS: Former Democratic Del. Heather Mizeur made it official, announcing she is running against Rep. Andy Harris.
DOT PICKS BELTWAY, I-270 WIDENING OPTION: After years of study, the Maryland Department of Transportation has chosen its “preferred alternative” for Gov. Hogan’s plan to expand portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 in Montgomery County. MDOT selected Alternative 9, which will add four High Occupancy Toll lanes — two in each direction — to I-495 between the American Legion Bridge and the I-270 spurs, and to I-270 between the Beltway and Interstate 70 in Frederick, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.
- The Maryland State Highway Administration also is discussing with officials in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties ways to divert some of the toll revenue to local mass transit, Katherine Shaver of the Post reports.
- Casey Anderson, chair of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and of the Montgomery County Planning Board, said Wednesday the county was blindsided by the news and that the state “dropped” the news while state and county officials are in the process of addressing the county’s concerns about the project, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
BPW APPROVES SHORE GAS PIPELINE EXTENSION: The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday unanimously approved the last key step for the extension of a controversial natural gas pipeline to extend it by seven miles from Wicomico into Somerset County, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters reports.
- The Del-Mar Energy Pathway pipeline will extend natural gas service to Eastern Correctional Institution and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, helping each to transition off of more polluting fuels, Julia Rentsch of the Salisbury Daily Times reports.
BPW OKs SETTLEMENT WITH FAMILY OF JORDAN McNAIR: Catherine Scott of Capital News Service reports that after a two-year-long process, the family will be awarded a $3.5 million settlement from Maryland after their son, Jordan McNair, died during a university football practice. The Board of Public Works voted unanimously during a meeting Wednesday to approve the request from the University of Maryland, College Park for the full settlement of all claims made by Martin McNair and Tonya Wilson, the parents of McNair.
AFTER CONTROVERSY, LAWMAKERS MULL CHANGES TO ENVIRO SERVICES: Maryland lawmakers are considering a long list of changes to the Maryland Environmental Service, a low-profile independent state agency thrust into the spotlight after its director received a six-figure payout when he left to work for the governor, including restricting future payouts, restructuring the board and adding new requirements, such as ethics training, reports Pamela Wood of the Sun.’
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LEVERAGING INVESTMENT & ADVANCING CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION: This virtual panel discussion will examine creative approaches to financing energy solutions, innovation in the advanced energy space, and access to capital to expand economic development in Maryland. Join the Maryland Clean Energy Center for this Policy Watch Session on February 1, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, with a special focus on opportunities for Green Banks, and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Legislation. Advance registration is required.
HOGAN PUSHES VACCINES IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: Gov. Larry Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks visited a Giant Pharmacy in the county to reassure residents of the safety and importance of the vaccine, William Ford of the Washington Informer reports. Hogan said the state now administers about 20,000 doses per day, a number that is expected with more federal funding. Prince George’s County, which continues to record the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, will operate one of six mass vaccination sites in the state.
BA CO OFFERS WAY TO TRACK COVID VACCINATIONS: Residents can now track Baltimore County’s vaccination progress through an online dashboard monitoring administered doses and other COVID-19 metrics, Taylor DeVille of the Towson Times reports. More than 58,700 first doses and 10,375 second doses have been given so far, according to the dashboard — the most vaccinations administered among Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, county officials say.
MO CO COVID CASES RISE: After seeing its smallest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in two months on Tuesday, Montgomery County on Wednesday returned to a higher level that has been more common, seeing more than 350 new cases, Bethesda Beat reports.
CARROLL SCHOOL COVID CASES DECREASE: Cases of COVID-19 within Carroll County Public Schools have decreased compared with last week’s report. The school system’s data dashboard showed that 85 members of the CCPS community tested positive for the novel coronavirus between this week and last, 24 staff members and 61 students. That number was 112 last week and 113 the week before, Bob Blubaugh and Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.
MO CO TAPS COUNTY REDISTRICTING PANEL: The Montgomery County Council this week appointed 11 county residents to serve on a redistricting commission responsible for drawing new county council district boundaries this year, following the release of the 2020 Census count, Glyn Kazanjian writes for Maryland Matters.
FORMER OBAMA OFFICIAL TO SEEK DEM NOMINATION FOR GOV: Ashwani K. Jain, a former Obama administration official who ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery County Council in 2018, announced Wednesday night that he plans to seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes.
RASKIN HEADS UP 2nd SENATE TRIAL OF DONALD TRUMP: Kelsey Snell, congressional reporter for NPR, reports on Maryland U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Democrat from Takoma Park who is preparing to lead the second Senate trial of Donald Trump with two clear arguments in mind: Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the Constitution allows Congress to hold the former president accountable through impeachment.