State Roundup: BPW moves forward with highway contracts; some push vaxx for all teachers

State Roundup: BPW moves forward with highway contracts; some push vaxx for all teachers

In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan announced the huge project to expand I-270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway with toll lanes. From a Governor's Office Facebook video.

BPW MOVES FORWARD ON HIGHWAY CONTRACTS: Traffic congestion relief is on the way for Marylanders who live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region following a Wednesday afternoon vote by the Board of Public Works to move forward with a $54 million contract to begin pre-development work on an ambitious Capitol Beltway expansion plan, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter.

  • Maryland’s three-member Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, approved a predevelopment agreement for a public-private partnership on a 2-1 vote, Brian Witte reports for the AP.
  • Hogan (R) and Franchot (D) voted to accept one contract that will allow an international consortium to begin design work on the plan to add privately financed toll lanes to portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270. A second contract sets up a $1-a-year lease arrangement, over 60 years, between the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transportation Authority. Kopp (D) voted against both contracts.
  • Franchot says he supports the project because it finally addresses traffic congestion in the region, something that hasn’t happened for years, Steve Bohnel reports for Bethesda Beat. “We have to identify what is available in front of us,” said Franchot, who is running in the 2022 Democratic primary for governor. Even though Kopp was the lone “no” vote, she was optimistic about Transportation Secretary Greg overseeing the project.

SOME LAWMAKERS PUSH VAXX MANDATE FOR ALL TEACHERS: State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, local superintendents and teacher unions all say that they are committed to fully reopening schools in-person this fall, but some lawmakers are pushing for a vaccine mandate for teachers to protect children under 12 years old who are not able to be vaccinated, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters.

  • Del. Stephanie Smith said, “Literally, my child, other people under 12, they’ve had to sit in the house to protect adults, and now all we’re asking is adults to put something on the line for them.” Other lawmakers made similar comments during a briefing, reports Rachel Baye for WYPR-FM.

TEACHERS UNION SAYS IT WILL WORK WITH STATE, LOCALS ON VAXX PLAN: The head of the state’s largest teacher’s union said the union is prepared to work with state and local officials to develop requirements for coronavirus vaccinations or testing to return to work. The vast majority of students are expected to return to classrooms in every county in Maryland by the end of the month, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.

CARROLL SCHOOLS TO KEEP MASKS OPTIONAL: Ed Singer, Carroll County’s health officer, says that he wanted to have conversations about how masks can keep children from missing school and allow them to avoid quarantining if they have close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. After hearing Singer’s presentation, Carroll’s board of education stuck with its policy of keeping masks optional.

SOMERSET SCHOOLS WON’T MANDATE MASKS: Somerset County public schools will not require masks during the upcoming 2021-22 school year, according to Superintendent John Gaddis. All students, teachers and staff will have the option to wear a mask on school grounds, if they wish to do so. However, students will be required to wear masks on school buses, in alignment with a federal order, Maddie Aiken of the Salisbury Daily Times reports. 

FORMER EMPLOYEE SUES STATE: A former Maryland state government employee who lost his job over controversial social media posts last summer is suing the state, alleging he was wrongly fired and his rights were violated, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

MACo: A COVID OUTBREAK WAITING TO HAPPEN? As thousands of Maryland political leaders prepare to descend on Ocean City for the biggest political gathering in the state since before the pandemic, some are wondering whether the myriad events associated with the Maryland Association of Counties summer convention will put attendees at risk with the Delta strain of COVID-19 raging, Bennett Leckrone reports for Maryland Matters.

CENSUS: SLOW GROWTH IN MARYLAND: The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release the latest 2020 numbers today, revealing population trends of the last decade. So far, the preliminary data from the 2020 census has revealed a stagnation in population growth nationwide, with the U.S. growth rate at its slowest since the Great Depression. Maryland also had its slowest rate since 1830s. Clara Longo de Freitas of the Sun reports on what we know about the Census figures thus far.

COURT: HANDGUN POSSESSION CRIME REQUIRES NO KNOWLEDGE: Defendants need not know they were wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun to be found guilty of the crime, a unanimous Maryland high court said Tuesday in ruling that the gun possession violation remains a “strict liability” offense, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record. Maryland’s criminal statute contains no language to indicate that the wearing, carrying or transporting be done “knowingly” to be illegal, the high court stated .

COURT UPHOLDS MO CO’s BENEFIT TO UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that threw out a challenge to Montgomery County’s program of providing coronavirus relief funds to undocumented immigrants, Stephanie Lai reports for the Post.

HARRIS SPEAKS AT DEL. COX FOR GOV EVENT: Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) spoke at length at a fundraiser for Del. Daniel L. Cox’s bid for Maryland governor, giving the campaign of the first-term lawmaker and loyalist of former president Donald Trump a boost in an increasingly crowded Republican field, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. Harris offered his support to Cox (R-Frederick) during a fundraiser last week, describing the state lawmaker as “a person who reminds me of myself.”

DISTRICT SEEKS CHANGES TO MAGLEV PROPOSAL: The District is urging federal officials to modify key aspects of a proposed high-speed maglev train line before deciding whether to support a project that would take passengers between Washington and Baltimore in 15 minutes, reports Luz Lazo for the Post.

FAMILY SUES UM OVER DEATH OF FRESHMAN: The family of a University of Maryland freshman who died in 2018 of complications from adenovirus says the university and two former officials were responsible, according to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed Wednesday in Prince George’s County, Laura Lumpkin reports in the Post.

BA CO LAWMAKERS WANT NEW SCHOOL BUILDINGS: A delegation of lawmakers are urging the Baltimore County school board this week to ignore a consultant’s advice to renovate Towson and Dulaney high schools and instead construct new buildings, Lillian Reed reports for the Sun.

REPORT: COP STRIPPED OF POWERS KEPT ON PAYROLL 28 YEARS: Baltimore’s inspector general today faulted the police department for allowing an officer – who was stripped of his enforcement powers after shooting an unarmed Black teenager in 1993 – to remain on the payroll for 28 years, collecting full benefits and generous overtime, Mark Reutter reports for Baltimore Brew.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online news outlet, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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