HOGAN TOUTS $3.9M IN COVID RELIEF; USE OF FUNDS OUTLINED: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that a bipartisan agreement has been reached on how to allocate the $3.9 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds that Maryland is poised to receive from the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, reports Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter.
- Maryland’s top politicians on Wednesday praised the windfall of $3.9 billion in federal aid they plan to use to bolster the state’s unemployment system, provide emergency relief to struggling residents and improve access to broadband internet service, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- Erin Cox of the Post reports that state political leaders plan to use the massive influx of federal stimulus money coming to the state for an unprecedented investment in expanding broadband access, both in the state’s rural reaches and its underserved urban communities that cannot afford to connect.
- Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports that $1.1 billion will go to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund; $800 million will go to economic relief programs and stimulus to help Marylanders and businesses most in need, and $600 million will be sent to the state’s schools for reopening costs and also to address long-term learning loss.
- Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, praised the additional $500 million that will go to “shovel-ready projects,” Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. “Outdoor recreational opportunities have been a lifeline for so many during this pandemic. So I am pleased that we are funding park and playground projects in every single county in this state.”
- Senate President Bill Ferguson highlighted more than $300 million that will be dedicated to expanding broadband in the state. He said Marylanders who felt like technology has allowed them to be able to continue work, school and social interactions without much fuss should consider themselves lucky, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes.
HOUGH BLASTS NEW LAW ON UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes according to Senate Minority Whip Michael Hough, legislation that recently became law that makes some low-income undocumented immigrants eligible for an expansion of state and local earned income tax credits will encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to Maryland.
SENATORS WEIGH POLICE REFORM CHANGES: Sizable gaps remain between a bill backed by House Speaker Adrienne Jones — the Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021 — and a package of nine policing bills that cleared the Senate by wide margins in February. None of those bills have received a vote in the House of Delegates, Bryn Stole and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.
- Maryland is moving toward repealing its far-reaching law that codifies workplace protections for police officers accused of misconduct, an action that no other state with a Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights has taken in nearly half a century, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
- After nearly eight-and-a-half hours of contentious debate and over a dozen attempts to amend it, the House Police Accountability Act of 2021 moved out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee late Tuesday night, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
BILL OK’d TO COMPENSATE THOSE WRONGLY IMPRISONED: Maryland lawmakers have approved legislation to change how the state compensates people who have been wrongly imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, the AP is reporting. The House of Delegates gave the measure final approval Tuesday, sending the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan.
HOUSE PANEL SCALES BACK CLIMATE BILL: A House subcommittee has drastically scaled back ambitious climate legislation. By adopting a spate of amendments Wednesday, the panel essentially ensured that two substantially different climate bills are moving through the General Assembly, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters. “I am extremely disappointed,” Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), the lead Senate sponsor, said.
SENATE OKs MORE EARLY VOTING CENTERS: The Maryland Senate gave final approval to a bill expanding the number of early voting centers across the state Wednesday after a final round of heated partisan debate and failed Republican amendments, Bennett Leckrone reports in Maryland Matters. House Bill 745 would increase the number of early voting centers required in Maryland’s counties based on the number of registered voters in each jurisdiction. The legislation passed the Senate in a 33-14 vote.
MISSTEPS MARKED VAXX ROLLOUT; STATE NOW IN MIDDLE: Hallie Miller and Alex Mann report in the Sun that after mingling early on among the states that rolled out their vaccines least efficiently, Maryland now finds itself in the middle. As of Wednesday, Maryland ranked 24th of 50 states and Washington, D.C., for the percentage of adults who have been completely immunized, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
METRO VAXX CLINIC TO OPEN: A COVID-19 vaccination clinic that is set to open next week will be a particular benefit to residents of the Washington, D.C., region who prefer or need to use mass transit, officials said on Wednesday, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters. The clinic, located at the Greenbelt Metro station, will open on April 7, the White House and Hogan administration announced. It will have the capability to administer 3,000 shots per day, officials said.
ERROR STOPS B’MORE EMERGENT PLANT FROM DISTRIBUTING VAXX: The Emergent BioSolutions manufacturing plant in East Baltimore that has been making coronavirus vaccine for months has not yet received emergency use authorization from the federal government, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday, and the delay is reportedly due to a potentially egregious human error, Hallie Miller and McKenna Oxenden of the Sun report.
- The New York Times broke the story about Emergent. Sharon LaFraniere and Workers at a plant in Baltimore manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the ingredients several weeks ago, contaminating up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines.”
CECIL WOMAN PROTESTS SHERIFF DEPUTIES’ ACTIONS: Rebecca Tan of the Post writes a long piece about Christine Givens, who has been leading a protest against police brutality at the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department following a video in which deputies “tell the motorist he looked suspicious but refuse to say why.” As far as those in the crowd knew, no one in this overwhelmingly White, conservative part of Maryland — a place once notorious as a Ku Klux Klan stronghold — had ever cussed out the sheriff on the steps of his headquarters before.
MO CO PROBES POLICE ACTIONS AGAINST 5-YEAR-OLD: Montgomery County officials want a hearing to look at county police discipline and procedures after a video showed two officers accosting, handcuffing and screaming at a 5-year-old boy last year, Brian Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.
MO CO OPENS VAXX REGISTRY TO 16+: As residents flooded into a new COVID-19 vaccination site at Montgomery College in Germantown on Wednesday, the county has opened up preregistration for all residents age 16 and older, Briana Adhikusuma and Caitlynn Peetz report for Bethesda Beat.
BETHESDA MAG, BEAT SOLD TO LOCALS: Steve and Susan Hull on Wednesday announced the sale of Bethesda Magazine and Bethesda Beat to Scott and Jillian Copeland of Rockville. “Scott and Jillian are committed to continuing to tell the stories that matter to our community and to expanding the reach” of the two publications, Steve Hull wrote.