When 2021 began many of the state-imposed COVID-19 related restrictions that had been placed on businesses the previous year were still in effect.
By mid-year most of the restrictions had been lifted and daily life began to return to a semblance of normalcy as vaccines became more readily available.
However, by the end of 2021 local governments began to reimpose restrictions in response to rising positivity rates and hospitalizations.
This year also saw the General Assembly pass landmark police reform legislation over Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto, which added fuel to ongoing debates between the administration and Democratic lawmakers about how to address violent crime in Baltimore City.
And the year would close with contentious debate over the enactment of a new congressional redistricting map.
Below is a snapshot of 10 of the state’s most dynamic stories of 2021:
The state lifts capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, and retail establishments
Hogan announced the decision at a news conference on March 9 in response to declining positivity rates. The decision went into effect on March 12. Hogan also announced that large entertainment gatherings such as sporting events would be able to resume with flexible capacity limits. This enabled Marylanders to once again go to Orioles games and attend races at Pimlico after a one year hiatus.
Statewide mask mandate is lifted
Hogan announced the decision at a news conference on May 14 in response to updated guidance from the CDC. The decision went into effect the following day and allowed local governments to maintain mask mandates if they wished to do so.
All Marylanders age 16 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines at mass vaxx sites
Hogan announced the decision at a news conference on April 5. It went into effect the following day. The move was part of a statewide campaign to get all Marylanders vaccinated against the virus. By the end of the year the state closed most of its mass vaccination sites and began to rely more heavily on pharmacies and primary care providers to administer vaccines.
Howard County imposes indoor mask mandate
County Executive Calvin Ball made the decision on December 23. It went into effect on December 26. Prior to that decision, Montgomery County and several other jurisdictions had already reinstated indoor mask mandates. December 27 saw Baltimore County reinstate its state of emergency, which requires all residents to wear masks indoors through Jan. 31.
COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 1,500 threshold triggering emergency actions
December 23 saw the state’s COVID-19 related hospitalizations exceed 1,500, which triggered the implementation of additional measures to reserve space for critically ill patients. They included adjustment of capacity limits, redeployment of staff, and reduction of elective procedures.
Landmark police reform bills become law over Hogan’s objection
Police reform was the signature issue of the 2021 legislative session, and on April 10 the General Assembly voted to override Hogan’s veto of a package of bills that repealed the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights and placed limits on both the use of excessive force and no-knock warrants.
Hogan has repeatedly proposed a series of bills aimed at reducing violent crime that the General Assembly has declined to advance.
Hogan orders state to evaluate funding for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office
An ongoing clash between Hogan and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby escalated vis-a-vis dueling news conferences on Nov. 23 after the governor announced that he had ordered the state to review funding for Mosby’s office.
Hogan’s decision came after Baltimore had surpassed its 300th homicide for the year. Hogan accused of Mosby being too lenient with violent criminals. Mosby accused the governor of using the city as a scapegoat for political purposes.
Hogan vetoes Democratic-backed congressional redistricting plan
At a news conference on Dec. 9, Hogan vetoed congressional redistricting legislation favored by Democrats. “I am vetoing these disgracefully gerrymandered illegal maps, which are a shameful violation of state and federal law,” Hogan said.
Hours later the General Assembly voted to override the veto, making the new map law. The four-day special legislative session had begun with the rejection of an opposing redistricting map that was based on the work of an independent citizen’s commission whose members were appointed by Hogan.
Anti-gerrymandering groups have threatened legal action over the new map.
Former Senate President Mike Miller dies
Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller died of prostate cancer on Jan. 15 at age 78. The political powerbroker led the upper chamber from 1987 to 2020 when he stepped down and was succeeded by then-36-year-old Baltimore City Sen. Bill Ferguson. Miller was considered an institution in Maryland politics and his death drew condolences from both state as well as national political figures.
Davis succeeds Kopp as Treasurer
The General Assembly elected then-Prince George’s County Del. Dereck Davis state Treasurer on December 9. Davis succeeded Nancy Kopp, who had occupied the position since 2002 and is considered one of the most influential women in state politics.