BILL WOULD BLOCK NEW ICE DETENTION CENTERS: The General Assembly is considering legislation that would essentially put an end to privately run immigration detention centers in the state. But currently, there do not appear to be any in the state, writes Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter.
- The Dignity Not Detention Act would prevent the state’s detention centers from renewing existing contracts with ICE or private prison companies and prevent the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from coming into Maryland in the future to build new detention centers, Audrey Decker of Capital News Service reports.
PANDEMIC RELIEF BILL ALTERED: A pandemic financial aid plan that includes a mix of direct payments, tax breaks and help for businesses is heading toward final approval in the General Assembly, with negotiations among delegates, senators and Hogan administration officials ongoing to smooth its path, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- The Maryland House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved a pandemic aid bill that expands payments to low-income Marylanders and exempts some who received unemployment benefits from state income taxes. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that changes to the bill first proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan are being billed as the “largest anti-poverty bill in state history.”
- The House plan nixes Hogan’s proposal for an additional $250 to families and $150 to individuals who filed for the EITC in 2020. Instead, it would drastically increase the refundable credit that EITC filers get in the state over the next three years. House Majority Leader Eric Luedkte said that, if the House amendments are approved, a family with two or more kids that earns $25,000 a year would see an annual credit increase of roughly $1,100, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters reports.
COMPENSATION FOR WRONGLY IMPRISONED: The General Assembly is poised to create a state-mandated system to compensate people who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned, removing barriers to getting paid that exonerees have faced for decades. The Senate unanimously approved the legislation on Wednesday, and the House is expected to move quickly on the measure as well, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
- The bill would provide for a standard amount of compensation per year of incarceration — $83,242 based on the state’s median household income — and assign the assessment of eligibility to administrative law judges, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.
PRISON PROBLEMS: The COVID-pandemic has exposed major systemic problems in Maryland’s prisons that have been ignored for years, former judge Phil Caroom writes in a commentary for Maryland Reporter. He says several pieces of legislation offer some solutions.
HEARINGS TODAY ON POLICE BILLS: On Thursday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee will hold a hearing on two bills. One of them would repeal the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights and another called “Anton’s Law” that looks to make misconduct investigation records available to the public, Ray Strickland of WMAR-TV reports. “The need for accountability is at its highest,” said David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland.
KIRWAN VETO OVERRIDE EXPECTED: The veto of a multi-billion dollar education bill in Maryland may be overridden this week, along with tax increases to fund it, as the state legislature is expected to take up the three related bills by Friday, Patrick Hauff of Capital News Service writes in a story that appears in Maryland Reporter. The Senate is expected to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education bill during its Friday session. It was overridden first by the House of Delegates Monday.
D.C. AREA LEADERS ASK FEDS TO HELP WITH FED WORKER VAXX: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the governor of Virginia sent a letter to federal leaders Wednesday that urges them to help distribute vaccines to essential federal workers across the region, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports. The local leaders said that with more than 281,000 people who work for the federal government living in the National Capital Region, it would be difficult to prioritize getting the essential workers vaccinated because the leaders are focused on vaccinating other residents.
COUNTY ‘COMPLIANCE’ WITH STATE VAXX RULES MATTERS: While Maryland has said it’s allocating the COVID-19 vaccines to counties based on population, state health officials notified counties this week that the state can distribute doses based on how well the counties “comply” with state directives and how efficiently they can get shot into arms, Hallie Miller and Alex Mann of the Sun report.
OVERCOMING VACCINE HESITANCY: When officials in Prince George’s County began preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines late last year, they knew that many residents would hold back. In the weeks since vaccines started to become available, health care workers, first responders, teachers and others have been among those displaying what officials now refer to as “vaccine hesitancy,” writes Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.
2 HOSPITALS OFFER BOARD MEMBERS VACCINES: Amid a distribution crisis that has left Marylanders struggling to access the COVID-19 vaccine, two regional Maryland hospital systems have offered vaccinations to their board members — a move that abides by the state’s prioritization standards, according to health and government officials, Johanna Alonso of the Daily Record reports.
WA CO HITS 2 COVID MILESTONES: Washington County just hit two milestones in COVID-19 vaccinations, but health experts say there is a long way to go, Mike Lewis reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Meritus Health has administered at least the first dose of the vaccine to about 10.4% of Washington County’s total population, and to about 25% of those age 65 and older, according to Carrie Adams, the organization’s chief quality and transformation officer.
PG TEACHERS UNION DEMAND CLASSROOM SAFETY MEASURES: The teachers’ union in Prince George’s County said key safety measures must be met before teachers and students return to their classrooms, Dick Uliano of WTOP-FM reports. In an open letter to its members dated Feb. 8, the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association said the school system has not yet addressed its request for investment in facilities upgrades, specifically adequate air-filtration systems in every room where there are students and teachers.
POLICE REFORM COMING TO PRINCE GEORGE’S: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced nearly four dozen recommendations for the police department to implement such as mental health programs, officer training to prevent racial profiling and not hire officers with a history of misconduct or disciplinary problems. Three policies would require new recruits to engage in community service, improve access and operations of body-worn cameras and incorporate comprehensive leadership and other forms of training, William Ford of the Washington Informer reports.
COVID CASES IN CARROLL CLASSROOMS UNCHANGED: The number of COVID-19 cases and people with symptoms at Carroll County Public Schools remained unchanged this week while overall in-person attendance has risen since hybrid learning resumed last month, Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.
FREDERICK PRINCIPALS OUTLINE HYBRID ED PLANS: Frederick County Board of Education members heard from six county public schools principals on Wednesday — just six days before in-person learning is set to begin — about how planning for the hybrid model was going at their individual schools, Katryna Perera of the Frederick News-Post reports. The principals answered questions from the board and provided details about various topics including cleaning protocols, personnel protective equipment, arrival and dismissal strategies and meal time plans.
CORRECTION: Toni Holness, a lawyer and police reform advocate, tweeted criticism about the athletes’ testimony, calling it an attempt to “out-hype” Jones’ constituents, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters writes.
EX STUDENT SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: More than 100 former student school board members in Maryland weighed in Tuesday on a lawsuit by two Howard County parents that aims to strip the student member’s right to vote on board matters, saying it is an “egregious attack” on student representation, Jacob Calvin Meyer reports in the Howard County Times.