HOGAN: STATE NOT READY TO LIFT RESTAURANT RESTRICTIONS: Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that even though Maryland’s coronavirus positivity rates have steadily declined for weeks and vaccines have become more readily available it may still be some time before the state lifts capacity restrictions on public establishments such as bars and restaurants, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes.
- Gov. Larry Hogan hailed the improving coronavirus metrics Tuesday and said that Maryland could soon be receiving and administering another COVID-19 vaccine, in another wide-ranging news conference on the virus from the State House, Greg Swatek of the Frederick News Post reports.
- The governor’s press conference is on YouTube, as are all his press conferences, both live and archived.
HOGAN TO LAUNCH LIMITED VACCINE WAITLIST: Two months into the effort to vaccinate the public against COVID-19, the administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan reversed course and said it would launch an official, though limited, waitlist to ease the frustrating hunt for scarce doses, Meredith Cohn and Pamela Wood f the Sun report.
VAXX PROVES ILLUSIVE TO SOME PRIORITIZED MARYLANDERS: Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been prioritized to receive COVID-19 immunizations in the current phase of the state’s rollout. But, Hallie Miller and John-John Williams report, with a national vaccine supply shortage and a decentralized, online booking system, many Marylanders — especially older adults, people without computers and those lacking digital skills — have struggled to secure appointments.
CARROLL COMMISSIONERS QUESTION PROGRAM: Carroll County commissioners talked about how Maryland’s vaccine distribution program is not getting enough shots into arms of those who need it most in Carroll, Bob Blubaugh of the Carroll County Times reports. “I am still not convinced that it is in Carroll County’s best interest, the way it’s being distributed,” President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said during Tuesday morning’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
SEVERAL POSITIVE FOR COVID AT STATE HOUSE: There were multiple positive COVID-19 tests at the State House complex on Tuesday, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) told his colleagues at the start of the chamber’s floor session Tuesday morning, Josh Kurtz reports in Maryland Matters.
- Six of the Senate’s 47 members missed the chamber’s 11 a.m. floor session, although it wasn’t clear how many of those missing received positive results, how many were quarantining as a precaution because they were a close contact of a potential case or whether any missed the session for other reasons, Bryn Stole and Pamela Wood report in the Sun.
- Ferguson said the tests were part of the surveillance testing program the General Assembly began last month, at the start of the legislative session. Senators are tested twice a week, and staff members are tested weekly, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
- The 11-member Judicial Proceedings Committee has been meeting in person regularly to debate issues surrounding police reform and accountability, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “The absences obviously pose logistical challenges, but we’ll press on with our work virtually,” said Sen. Will Smith, D-Montgomery and chairman of the committee.
MASS JAB SITE SET FOR CHARLES CO: Maryland and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Charles County in the next few weeks, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.
SENATE OK SOUGHT FOR STATE SCHOOL SUPER: A proposed emergency bill that would require Senate confirmation for the state superintendent of schools has raised the eyebrows of the State Board of Education members, as well as Republican lawmakers, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters reports. The state superintendent serves a four-year term and is appointed by the State Board of Education with no input from the legislature.
BILL WOULD LEGALIZE CANNABIS USE: Advocates say that a bill essentially legalizing recreational use of cannabis in Maryland would be an important step toward addressing social equity and racial injustices, Catherine Scott of CNS reports in Maryland Reporter.
HOT DEBATE OVER AT-LARGE COMMISSIONER RACES: Debate grew heated on the House floor Tuesday, as lawmakers considered whether to change election rules for five counties where district-based commissioners are elected by county-wide votes. Supporters of the change say the current systems in Calvert, Charles, Garrett, Queen Anne’s and St. Mary’s disenfranchise people of color by diluting the votes from their neighborhoods.
STATEWIDE STUDENT TESTING OK’d: Maryland students — whether they learn in-person or online — will have to take statewide standardized tests this spring, but the results won’t carry any consequences for students or schools, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports.
LAWMAKERS REVISIT JHU POLICE FORCE: A plan to create a private police force at Johns Hopkins University is once again being debated in the Maryland General Assembly, just months after the university announced it was delaying the force’s creation in light of protests against police brutality last summer, writes Johanna Alonzo for the Daily Record.
HOUSE STRIPS SPOUSAL PROTECTION IN SOME INSTANCES: The protection criminal defendants have against their spouses testifying against them would not apply in cases when the wedding occurred after the alleged crime was committed, under legislation the House of Delegates passed Tuesday.
ARCHITECTS PICKED FOR PIMLICO REBUILDING: The Maryland Stadium Authority took a major step toward rebuilding Pimlico Race Course when it selected the architects and engineers who will design $375 million worth of replacement structures in Baltimore and Laurel, Ed Gunts reports in Baltimore Brew.
MO CO OPENS DOORS TO SOLAR FARMS IN AG RESERVE: The Montgomery County Council opened the door for solar farms in the suburb’s 93,000-acre agricultural reserve Tuesday, voting 7 to 2 to approve a zoning amendment that would allow such development in the protected area for the first time since its formation 40 years ago, Rebecca Tan of the Post is reporting.
SUPREMES TO HEAR B’MORE ABORTION GAG APPEAL: The Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear an appeal over the Trump administration policy that keeps taxpayer-funded clinics from referring women for abortions. Baltimore had urged the justices not to hear the case, arguing that the ban on abortion referrals would likely be repealed by President Joe Biden, Mark Sherman of the AP reports.