FREE STATE POLITICS: VOTING RIGHTS, CONCEALED CARRY: Episode 2 of Maryland Reporter’s “Free State Politics” podcast, hosted by John Rydell and producer Douglas Christian, features Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) and Sen. Justin Ready (R-Carroll). Discussions center around voters rights and some states’ attempts to restrict them and concealed carry permits, writes Bryan Renbaum for Maryland Reporter. You can read his summary here. And you can listen to the podcast here.
RETURN TO MORE REQUIREMENTS FOR JOBLESS BENEFITS: People receiving unemployment benefits in Maryland will soon have to document that they’re looking for a new job as the state joins others around the nation in reinstating work-search requirements. The change will come next month as Maryland also cuts benefits to tens of thousands of unemployed residents covered by federal unemployment programs, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports. The changes take effect the week of July 4.
FILERS FRUSTRATED WITH CHANGE IN MD UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM: An unexpected change in the state’s unemployment system has frustrated Marylanders who are trying to file weekly claims, reports Christine Condon for the Sun.
- Maryland residents are frustrated after they awoke on Sunday to find they were apparently unable to file their weekly unemployment claims through the state’s Department of Labor “BEACON” portal, William Smink reports for WBFF-TV.
LAID-OFF HOSPITALITY WORKERS RALLY: Laid-off hospitality workers rallied Friday in Baltimore to protest Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to end federal unemployment benefits early, saying jobs have not returned after the coronavirus pandemic pummeled their industry, reports Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports.
- Gov. Hogan had said, “… we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages.” However, that hasn’t been Shaunte Hines’ experience. She and her wife were both working at GDL Italian by Giada, a restaurant at the Horseshoe Casino, until it closed for good because of the pandemic, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.
- Maryland Comptroller and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Franchot is the latest publicly elected official to call on Gov. Larry Hogan to reverse his decision to cutoff $300 in federally funded weekly unemployment benefits next month, Ryan Dickstein reports for WMAR-TV.
- Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that Sakia Spriggs, a food service worker at Morgan State University, said she was first laid off on March 19, 2020. Then the school called her back in November, for the last three weeks before the Christmas break. “And then I was laid off again because enough students didn’t return,” she said.
RENTERS SEEK RELIEF, GO ON STRIKE: Residents of LaSalle Park in Hyattsville have been frustrated by lack of action over rent during the pandemic. Around 20 families would eventually join a rent strike and are withholding their monthly payments until rent relief arrives. Kyle Swenson of the Post writes that rent relief applications went out in March, however, the residents have heard nothing, part of the multimillion dollar logjam local governments are experiencing as they assess millions of claims. Of the $27 million received by Prince George’s County as part of the federal rent relief money, the county had only spent $3.5 million by early May.
HOSPITALIZATIONS, POSITIVITY RATE CONTINUE DOWN: Maryland health officials reported 104 new cases of the coronavirus and five more deaths Sunday. The state reported that 283 people are currently hospitalized in Maryland due to complications from COVID-19, 19 fewer than a day prior. It’s the first time fewer than 300 people were hospitalized since Sept. 20. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is now at 1.22%, down from 1.3% the day before. Phil Davis reports in the Sun.
- Bethesda Beat reports that Montgomery County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has fallen below 1% this month for the first time since the pandemic started in March 2020. The rate was 0.9% Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and 0.8% on Thursday, according to data from the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
MARYLAND LIMITS POLICE USE OF GENEALOGY WEBSITES: Beginning Oct. 1, police may use consumer genealogy websites only for serious violent crimes such as murder and rape, only after they exhaust other investigatory methods, and only under the supervision of a judge, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports.
MARYLAND TO ALLOW STUDENT ATHLETES TO PROFIT FROM IMAGE: A seismic shift will rock college sports next month, when a handful of new state laws go into effect allowing student athletes to make money off their personal images, Laura Olson of Maryland Matters reports. It’s been against the rules governing collegiate sports for student athletes to make a profit off their name or image — a practice that’s commonplace in professional sports.
8 SCHOOL SYSTEMS JOIN APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS: Eight public school systems in Maryland have joined the state’s Youth Apprenticeship Program since the beginning of 2020, bringing the total number of participating jurisdictions up to 20. The program pairs Maryland high school students with employers in a variety of fields, having launched in 2016 as a pilot program, Johanna Alonso of the Daily Record reports.
LYNCHING MARKER UNVEILED IN SALISBURY: Efforts in Maryland and elsewhere are drawing the shameful history of lynchings from the shadows of history with pledges to be “Silent No More,” as an event last month in Salisbury was titled. Dozens gathered for the unveiling of a historical marker detailing the lynchings of three men in Wicomico County, Jean Marbella of the Sun reports.
LYNCHING VICTIM REMEMBERED IN CARROLL: Carroll County also remembered a lynching victim, Townsend Cook, who in 1885 was taken from the Old Westminster Jail that still stands next to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and shot, then hanged from a tree, Kristen Griffith reports in the Carroll County Times.
MOSBY INTRODUCES SECURITY DEPOSIT MEASURE: Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby will introduce an emergency measure to offer grants to people to help pay security deposits in the wake of Mayor Brandon Scott’s veto of a deposit alternatives bill, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
LUMBER SHORTAGE SENDS NEW HOME COSTS SOARING: Because of the pandemic and the disruption of the supply chain, the cost of softwood lumber has jumped 112% since April 2020. Plywood has shot up 77% since last year, and other products, like hardwood, have increased 32%, Hallie Miller of the Sun reports. That’s added nearly $36,000 to the average cost of a new single-family home and $13,000 to the price of a new multifamily home, contributing to the growing scarcity of affordable housing for first-time buyers and others.
HISTORICAL BLACK COMMUNITY FIGHTS FLOODING PROBLEM: Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes about Eagle Harbor, a small historically Black waterfront community of 69 residents on the southern tip of Prince George’s County, that is being inundated with stormwater coming from the switchyard of the Chalk Point power plant, which is owned by Pepco. Fred Tutman, the Patuxent Riverkeeper who serves as an adviser to Eagle Harbor, said that Pepco seems to be complying with MDE’s requirements, but not responding to the town’s wishes. To Tutman, this is a model case of environmental injustice.
EX-MO CO OFFICIAL ORDERED TO PAY BACK $215,000 MORE: A former economic development executive who embezzled about $6.7 million from Montgomery County was ordered this week, with co-defendants, to pay back an additional $215,000, the conclusion of a two-year legal process. In February 2019, Byung II “Peter” Bang, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison for orchestrating a six-year embezzlement scheme that put nearly $7 million into South Korean bank accounts, Caitlynn Peetz and Steve Bohnel of Bethesda Beat report.