State Roundup: Comptroller blasts Dept of Labor for unreachable unemployment claim call center

State Roundup: Comptroller blasts Dept of Labor for unreachable unemployment claim call center

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the Port of Baltimore Thursday, where cargo levels are above pre-pandemic levels. From left, port director William Doyle, Gov. Larry Hogan, Buttigieg, Mayor Brandon Scott. Governor's Office photo

FRANCHOT UNLOADS ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT ISSUES: Comptroller Peter Franchot Thursday pressed a high-ranking Department of Labor official for answers as to why more than 15 months into the coronavirus pandemic hundreds of unemployment insurance claimants are still unable to get a claims representative on the phone at the state’s call centers, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter.

  • And at the top of mind for Franchot’s panel is determining how much of the roughly $13 billion in unemployment payments were made on fraudulent claims, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record.
  • Franchot grilled the officials and said his office receives hundreds of emails related to unemployment claims daily, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR. People know his office has nothing to do with unemployment but can’t reach the Department of Labor, he said.

BIDEN SECRETARY VISITS PORT: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg touted President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package at the Port of Baltimore Thursday, Emily Sullivan reports for WYPR. Calling it a “once in a generation opportunity,” Buttigieg said the legislation includes funding opportunities for the city for transportation, ports and high-speed internet.

  • The deal has the support of Democrats and some Republicans and includes about $550 billion in new spending on highways, bridges, transit, broadband, water systems and other public works projects, Emily Opilo and Colin Campbell report for the Sun. The Senate voted Wednesday night to begin work, a bipartisan vote signaling lawmakers will consider it.

STATE’S LARGEST PRISON DRAMATICALLY UNDERSTAFFED: Officers at the Eastern Correctional Institution say they have been understaffed for years, fostering an unsafe environment that resulted in two or three inmates attacking an officer last weekend, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters. A union president said that there is a ratio of 96 inmates to one officer and more than 100 vacancies.

JUDGE CALLS POLICE STORY INCONSISTENT WITH VIDEO OF SHOOTING: A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of a man killed by Baltimore County Police in 2015, saying that the man posed no immediate threat and needed their help, Phillip Jackson reports for the Sun.

MOSBY’S ATTORNEY REACTS TO FEDERAL INVESTIGATION: An attorney for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Mosby “categorically denies” that she claimed false charitable deductions, and he accused the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore of carrying out an overly broad, politically motivated investigation, Tim Prudente and Justin Fenton report for the Sun.

FEDERAL UNIONS AREN’T SURE ABOUT VACCINE MANDATE: Unions representing hundreds of thousands of federal workers — including many in Maryland — said Thursday that they back nationwide vaccination efforts to slow COVID-19, but would need more time to consider the implementation of President Biden’s new plan to compel government employees and contractors to get the shots, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun.

NURSING HOMES WITH LOWER VACCINATION RATES CALLED OUT: Some nursing homes in Allegany and Garrett counties made the state’s list for the fewest employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times-News. The Maryland Department of Health recently announced the “top 10 and bottom 10” nursing home facilities in the state ranked by percentage of staff with at least one vaccine dose.

EMERGENT RESUMES VACCINE PRODUCTION: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is allowing Emergent BioSolutions to resume production of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after critical production errors paused production three months ago, Christine Condon and Hallie Miller report for the Sun.

SOME UMD STUDENTS ABLE TO GET OUT OF LEASES: The Maryland Economic Development Corporation provided assistance to about 300 of the 1,000 students in Maryland’s public universities who wanted to cancel their housing contracts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters.  A new report submitted to state lawmakers this week said that the quasi-governmental agency would not pursue collections against other students as long as it remained financially able to do so.

SHADE FILES FOR SENATE: Jake Shade, the two-term president of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners, has filed for the District 1 Maryland State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. George Edwards, the staff of the Garrett County Republican reports. Shade, 28 and a Cumberland native, said he wanted to continue Edwards’ legacy of being “an effective conservative for Western Maryland.”

UK STUDY ABROAD CANCELLED: University of Maryland canceled study abroad programs in the United Kingdom for the fall semester after a federal “do not travel” advisory was issued last week, Amanda Hernández reports for The Diamondback student newspaper.

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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