COVID BUSINESS LOAN, GRANT DISPARATIES HIGHLIGHTED: Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes that Comptroller Peter Franchot Wednesday emphasized the importance of ensuring accountability and continued oversight over the distribution of the billions of dollars in pandemic assistance that Maryland’s businesses received from both the state and federal government over the past 14 months.
- Law firms and other professional services received pandemic aid disproportionate to the number of jobs actually lost in those professions, state officials said during the oversight hearing Wednesday, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.
- About $220 million was distributed through the Maryland Small Business Emergency Relief Grant and Loan Funds established by Gov. Larry Hogan in March 2020. Franchot expressed concern about how the department distributed those funds, particularly because Prince George’s County appeared to receive less money than other counties, despite being the state’s second most populous jurisdiction, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.
- The largest share of grants — 18.6%, or $26.2 million — went to businesses in Montgomery County, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM. Prince George’s County, home to roughly the same number of qualified businesses as Montgomery, received less than half as much money — $12.5 million or 8.9% of the state’s grants. The Baltimore area saw a similar phenomenon.
LAWMAKERS PUSH STATE LABOR DEPT ON JOBLESS BENEFITS: With supplemental federal unemployment benefits slated to end next week in Maryland, state lawmakers sharply questioned Department of Labor officials Wednesday on their plans to resolve ongoing customer service issues and insisted the agency fully implement a recent emergency bill intended to enhance the unemployment claim process, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes.
B’MORE SEEKS FEDERAL AID IN GUN VIOLENCE STRATEGY: Mayor Brandon Scott emerged from a White House meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday and said the city hopes to intensify — perhaps with more federal help — its efforts to address gun trafficking and the root causes of violent crime, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.
- Baltimore figures prominently in a strategy unveiled by the White House to try to curb gun violence and violent crime across the nation during the summer months and beyond, Jeff Barker and Emily Opilo report in the Sun.
- Responding to a spike in homicides across the country, President Biden on Wednesday laid out an anti-crime strategy from the White House that cracks down on gun stores that don’t follow federal rules, steps up programs for recently released convicts and provides more support for police departments across the country, Annie Linskey of the Post reports.
SPRING GROVE WORKERS RALLY FOR COVID PAY: Spring Grove hospital workers, including dietary and maintenance staff, gathered outside the central kitchen to rally for COVID-19 response pay — extra salary given to Maryland’s front-line state employees, Lizzy Lawrence of the Sun reports.
INVESTOR SUE EMERGENT, SEEKS CLASS ACTION: Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s ruination of 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine at its Baltimore plant was not as unexpected as the Gaithersburg-based company would have the public believe, an investor has alleged in a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the business of having committed securities fraud, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.
S. MARYLAND WANTS SINGLE MEMBER DISTRICTS, WHOLE COUNTIES: Southern Maryland residents urged members of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission to adopt single-member legislative districts and keep counties whole at a Wednesday night public hearing. Malcolm L. Funn, a Democratic member of the Maryland State Board of Elections and a Calvert County resident, noted that Calvert County is currently split between three legislative districts, Bennett Leckrone reports for Maryland Matters.
BALTIMORE SAYS NO TO MAGLEV: Baltimore officially came out against the proposed high-speed Northeast Maglev train to Washington, recommending against building it due to concerns about equity and the project’s effects on the environment, Colin Campbell of the Sun reports.
FREDERICK POLICE PLAN CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM: The Frederick Police Department plans to unveil a new program in July that will create a special crisis team of a police officer, a paramedic and a mental health professional that can respond to calls involving people in the midst of a mental health crisis, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post reports.
MO CO TOUTS AMBITIOUS CLIMATE PLAN: Before several Montgomery County leaders unveiled a climate action plan on Wednesday, County Executive Marc Elrich admitted that its aims are ambitious. The plan seeks to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 2035, and cut them 80% by 2027. Elrich said those goals might seem out of reach, but given the threat of climate change, government officials must pursue them, Steve Bohnel of Bethesda Beat reports.
B’MORE PARKING GARAGE CONTRACT CALLED ‘HUGE OVERSIGHT:’ A “very huge oversight” will cost Baltimore $3.5 million to operate several parking garages in the city based on an agreement approved unanimously Wednesday by the city’s spending board. When the Board of Estimates approved the award in June 2019, members were told the contract was for only $36 — the total amount of the company’s management fee. That figure, in fact, was a “clerical error” by the city’s former procurement officer, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
FORMER SEN. HOFFMAN, 81, DIES: Former Democratic state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, who worked tirelessly as a supporter of environmental and public education initiatives during her years in the legislature, died of cancer Sunday at her Cheswolde home. She was 81, Fred Rasmussen of the Sun reports.