State Roundup: Workers groups file lawsuit to continue federal unemployment benefit expansions

State Roundup: Workers groups file lawsuit to continue federal unemployment benefit expansions

It's crab feast season but the price of crabs is sky high. The price of crab meat in particular is now over $40 a pound for Maryland crab in most places. Governor's Office photo

WORKERS GROUPS SUE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT TO CONTINUE: An unemployed workers group in Maryland announced a lawsuit Thursday that will challenge Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to end early several pandemic unemployment programs that give federal aid to the jobless, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun. The benefits would have provided $300 extra weekly payments, covered gig workers and the self-employed, and provided extra weeks of payments.

  • The Unemployed Workers Union, which is led by a Baltimore organization called the Peoples Power Assembly, filed a class-action lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court on Thursday and it also aims to obtain benefits for people who have filed unemployment claims but have not yet received payments, Stephanie Lai and Ovetta Wiggins report for the Post.

VAN HOLLEN: UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS COULD GET HUNG UP IN SENATE: U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. objected Thursday to the Senate filibuster, which could prevent the Senate from moving forward on a gun violence prevention bill, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter. The legislation passed the House of Representatives and requires universal background checks for certain firearm transfers but Van Hollen said he wasn’t sure if it can get enough GOP support to make it though the upper chamber. Von Hollen supports abolishing the filibuster.

APPEALS COURT DECLARES BALTIMORE AERIAL SURVEILING UNCONSTITITIONAL: The Baltimore Police Department violated the constitutional rights of city residents and visitors when it conducted general aerial surveillance in an effort to fight violent crime last year, according to a federal appeals court ruling that Steve Lash reportS on for The Daily Record.

  • The divided U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the aerial surveillance program was unconstitutional and said police must stop using any data obtained through the now-defunct program, the AP reports on WTOP. In its ruling, the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the use of planes equipped with wide-angle high-tech cameras to surveil the city amounted to a warrantless search that violated the Fourth Amendment.

EMERGENCY PANDEMIC SPENDING MORE THAN ONE BILLION: The State of Maryland has spent nearly $1.5 billion in emergency services and supplies for the coronavirus pandemic, Meredith Cohn and Bryn Stole of the Baltimore Sun reports on numbers submitted to the Board of Public Works so far. Many of these deals were outside normal procurement channels.

B’MORE ESTABLISHES OFFICE FOR RESCUE PLAN SPENDING: Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration will rely on a new 10-person office to oversee spending of $640 million in American Rescue Plan funding, Emily Sullivan reports for WYPR. The Office of Recovery Programs will use a scoring rubric including project cost, risk, equity and other factors.

MD DEVISES NEW OPIOID STRATEGY: Maryland has a new opioid overdose strategy in response to climbing deaths, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced in Essex, Madeleine O’Neill reports for the USA Today Network in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The Maryland Stop Overdose Strategy will provide $4 million in grants for local communities to address the issue.

CAPITAL GAZETTE SHOOTER CASE AT JURY SELECTION: The court is trying to narrow down a jury pool of about 300 people to 12 jurors with alternates for the Capital Gazette shooting case, Ava-Joye Burnett reports for WJZ.

  • Almost half of the 82 jurors considered were excused because they believed they could not be impartial in the case, or had already seen or heard too much about it, Abby Isaacs reports for WMAR.

FROSH DEFENDS PUPPY MILL LAW: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is arguing for the courts to uphold a law that will ban retail pet stores from selling dogs while allowing nonprofit canine rescues and shelters to continue with sales, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record. In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Frosh wrote that retail stores often buy from “puppy mills” and the ban will prevent animal cruelty.

CONCERN ABOUT MOCO BUSINESS ECONOMY: A report commissioned by business leaders in Montgomery County raises questions about the suburb’s sluggish economy losing high-paying jobs to other jurisdictions, Rebecca Tan reports for the Post.

WORCESTER COUNTY OPTS OUT OF CARRYOUT ALCHOHOL: Carryout alcohol is coming to an end in Ocean City, as Worcester County opts out of a state law allowing the practice to continue past the pandemic, and in nearby Wicomico officials are meeting this week to consider the issue, Matthew Prensky and Kelly Powers report for the Salisbury Daily Times.

CANNABIS POTENTIAL OWNER REFUSED DUE TO RECORD: The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has rejected a request to transfer interest in a Baltimore dispensary after a background check found the prospective new owner had a criminal record, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record.

BMORE UNRUFFLED BY PARKING GARAGE CHANGE: The city is unruffled by a “clerical error” that resulted in an increase from a $36 contract to $7.5 million for operation of city parking garages, Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew reports in an in-depth look at the contract snafu that he writes sets some kind of record.

RETAILERS ASSOC. PREZ RUNS FOR ARUNDEL COUNCIL: Maryland Retailers Association President Cailey Locklair is running for Anne Arundel County Council, Ada Romano reports for the Sun. Locklair is running as a Republican and said businesses are still recovering from the pandemic, describing her work on the frontlines helping small businesses throughout the shut downs.

MORE HEAD START MONEY COMING: Maryland’s Democratic members of Congress announced $10 million in funding for Maryland’s Head Start early education programs, the staff of the Southern Maryland Chronicle reports.

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE TIES TO MONTGOMERY: With two more people declaring their campaigns for governor this week including Jon Baron and Tom Perez, the candidate pool with ties to Montgomery County keeps growing, Steve Bohnel writes for Bethesda Beat. Baron, a former nonprofit executive who has worked under three presidential administrations lives in Bethesda and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Perez lives in Takoma Park.

COMMENTARY: MORE REAL CHANGE NEEDED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Former Del. Jimmy Tarlau asks why more progressive legislation doesn’t pass the General Assembly with Democratic majorities in both chambers. It’s time more Democrats pushed for “real change,” Tarlau opines in Maryland Matters.

MARYLAND CONSIDERING BUILDING CODE UPGRADE: Maryland’s building codes are meant to protect against building collapses like the one Thursday in the Miami area, Lowell Melser reports for WBAL TV. The Department of Labor is taking public comment as it moves forward with consideration of upgrading to the 2021 International Building Code.

UMMS RELEASES CASE INFO ON REMARKABLE COVID TREATMENTS: Two patients who were near death after COVID-19 destroyed their lungs, survived and are thriving after double-lung transplants by University of Maryland School of Medicine surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the Easton Star Democrat reports on the case history of the two patients.

About The Author

Meg Tully

Contributing Editor Meg Tully has been covering Maryland politics for more than five years. She has worked for The Frederick News-Post, where she reported during the General Assembly session in Annapolis. She has also worked for The (Hanover) Evening Sun and interned at Baltimore Magazine. Meg has won awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association for her state and county writing, and a Keystone Press Award for feature writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you have additional questions or comments contact Meg at:

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