State Roundup: Advocates call for pandemic help to continue in housing, unemployment, legal services

State Roundup: Advocates call for pandemic help to continue in housing, unemployment, legal services

The Liberty Bell once rang from the top of the old Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia we now call Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell inscription: "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Leviticus 25:10 Photo by Phil Roeder with Flickr Creative Commons License

Happy Independence Day! We’re taking off a long weekend. State Roundup will return Tuesday, July 6.

EVICTIONS PROTECTIONS STILL NEEDED, SMITH SAYS: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Will Smith Thursday called for an extension of the state’s eviction pause deadline for residents and tenants that are unable to pay rent due to the pandemic, Bryan Renbaum reports for Smith’s remarks come the very day the state of emergency that Gov. Larry Hogan declared in March 2020 is set to end. Maryland’s eviction protections are not set to expire until Aug. 15.

UNEMPLOYED MDERS FACE JULY 3 DEADLINE: A lawsuit to restore federal unemployment programs will move back to state court after a federal court judge granted the request from attorneys representing unemployment insurance claimants, Mallory Sofastaii reports for WMAR.

  • Attorneys for the two separate lawsuits on the matter are scrambling to get a hearing before the state stops paying federal benefits, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun. Baltimore County Circuit Court has said that if a hearing is scheduled, it is likely to be held Friday afternoon on Zoom.
  • Maryland is slated to eliminate $300 supplemental weekly payments to applicants who lost jobs and $100 weekly payments to “mixed earners,” usually gig workers who have multiple sources of income and traditionally have been ineligible for unemployment benefits, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters. The July 3 expiration is months earlier than benefits would expire.

FROSH CALLS FOR MAJOR EFFORT FOR PRO BONO PANDEMIC HELP: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh urged lawyers in the state on Thursday to offer free or low-cost services to people grappling with pandemic-related legal issues like housing, consumer debt, public benefits and family-law issues, Lola Fadulu reports for the Post.

  • Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Allen Barbera joined him in calling for lawyers to provide bro bono legal services, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record. Frosh and Barbera’s call followed the General Assembly’s failure to pass legislation this year that would have provided low-income Marylanders a right to counsel in eviction proceedings.
  • Frosh characterized it as a “crisis in access to justice,” Rachel Baye reports for WYPR.

REDISTRICTING LOBBYING GROUP: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s uphill effort to reduce political influence when Maryland redraws congressional and state legislative districts every decade may get a boost from a new advocacy group led in part by a bipartisan pair of former elected officials, Bryn Stole reports for the Sun. Fair Maps Maryland announced its first board members former Sen. James Brochin, a Democrat, and former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, a Republican.

  • Fair Maps Maryland intends to lobby state lawmakers to approve federal and state electoral maps drafted by a bi-partisan citizens commission formed by Hogan, Marcus Dieterle reports for Baltimore Fishbowl.

USM APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED, PETERS TO RESIGN FROM SENATE: Gov. Larry Hogan appointed four new members to the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, which oversees the system’s 15 institutions, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun.

  • The appointment of Sen. Doug Peters, a Prince George’s County Democrat, means he will have to resign from the Senate and it will lose yet another moderate voice in the state legislature, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record.

ZERO COVID TODAY: In a photo snapped of smiling and cheering hospital staff holding signs announcing “Zero COVID Today!,” Frederick Health Hospital revealed they were not treating any patients for COVID-19, the first time in more than a year, Angela Roberts reports for the Frederick News-Post.

MURPHY TAKES ON OC CASE: Attorney Billy Murphy Jr. will be representing two Black teenagers in their suit alleging excessive force against Ocean City police officers, the staff of AFRO reports.

NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT: State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury was still learning his way around the building on Thursday, his first day of the job, but was already thinking big, reports Tim Tooten for WBAL TV. Choudhury said the setbacks school systems faced during COVID-19 will help create new opportunities for students returning to full time, in-person learning this fall.

MONTGOMERY MINIMUM WAGE LAW TAKES EFFECT: Thursday marked the first day employers with 51 or more employees in Montgomery County were required to pay employees at least $15 an hour, Steve Bohnel reports for Bethesda Beat. County officials celebrated it as the floor, noting that the county has a high cost of living.

  • The council decided to enact the minimum wage boost at the local level instead of waiting for the state to act, Kate Ryan reports for WTOP. She also spoke with a chamber group that said the change could be difficult for small to medium sized businesses recovering from the pandemic.

TALBOT BOYS STATUE DEBATE RAGES: Talbot County officials are trying to get a lawsuit dismissed that would order the removal of the Confederate Talbot Boys monument from the county courthouse grounds, Bennett Leckrone reports for Maryland Matters.

FUNDING FOR APPALACIAN HIGHWAYS: A congressional bill would provide $1.75 billion in dedicated funding over five years for the transportation network across Appalacia, the staff of the Garrett County Republican reports. U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-Md., is one of the sponsors of the bill and he called it one of his “top priorities.”

RASKIN TO SERVE ON RIOT COMMITTEE: Maryland’s U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, will serve on the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol, Meagan Flynn reports for the Post.

SEEKING AN ANNAPOLIS KILLER: The state is adding a $10,000 reward for tips leading to the killer of Michelle Cummings, a Naval Academy mom shot by stray bullets outside her Annapolis hotel, Mike Hellgren reports for WJZ.

HOGAN ANNOUNCES WATERWAY GRANTS: Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced $13.5 million in Waterway Improvement Fund grants for fiscal year 2022 to enhance and improve public boating access, facilities and navigation throughout the state, The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. Hogan announced it at the Ocean City Fire Department, one of the grant recipients.

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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