PACKAGE WOULD TIGHTEN STATE, LOCAL CYBERSECURITY: House leaders Wednesday vowed the state would take the initial steps in modernizing state and local government information technology systems, an effort that is not new or always easy to understand. Recent high-profile attacks on local government as well as a three-week shutdown of the state Health Department website has increased the level of concern. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.
- Maryland lawmakers highlighted a package of measures Wednesday to tighten cybersecurity in the state. Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones noted that Baltimore County was one of about 50 school systems across the nation attacked with ransomware in 2020, costing the county millions of dollars Staff/The Associated Press.
- The package includes House Bill 1202 and Senate Bill 754, which would require the Maryland Department of Emergency Management to help local governments prepare for the possibility of an attack. It would also create the Local Cybersecurity Support Fund to help smaller governments upgrade their security systems. House Bill 1205 and Senate Bill 811, would create a funding mechanism to modernize all of the state’s legacy IT systems. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.
SOME POLICE BODY CAM FOOTAGE COULD BE WITHHELD: A bill that would alter how police body camera footage can be viewed by the public is nearing passage in the Maryland Senate. The bill, sponsored by Baltimore County Democrat Sen. Charles Sydnor, would prevent the public from viewing tape that depicts a victim of domestic violence, rape, or sexual assault, or depicts the death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty. Callan Tansill-Suddath/WYPR-FM.
LAWMAKERS HOLD VIGIL FOR UKRAINE ON LAWYERS MALL: Gov. Larry Hogan and state lawmakers gathered on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis on Wednesday night to hold a vigil for Ukraine, which is under attack by Russia. The dome of the historic Maryland State House was colored with blue and yellow lights, the colors of Ukraine’s flag. Staff/The Associated Press.
- House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said Maryland would continue to stand with Ukraine’s fight for basic human rights and freedom. “Regardless of what side of the aisle we stand on individually, collectively we are unified under our core values of freedom and liberty,” Jones said. “That is the only way we’ll win this war against tyranny. That is the only way democracy will win.” Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.
ADVOCATES SEEK HEALTH INSURANCE AID FOR SMALL BIZ WORKERS: Public health advocates are pushing for a bill that would provide up to $45 million in subsidies each year for Maryland’s small businesses and nonprofits to provide their employees with health insurance. Johanna Alonso/The Daily Record.
BILL WOULD LET TENANTS SHIELD PANDEMIC RELATED EVICTION NOTICES: Although courts were shut down due to the pandemic and limited federal and state protections were available to tenants facing eviction, new failure-to-pay rent evictions have been filed throughout the pandemic. State lawmakers are considering legislation to allow tenants to shield those filings from public view in cases that were filed between March 5, 2020 and Jan. 1, 2022. The narrowly tailored legislation applies specifically to cases where the failure to pay rent was due to a loss of income caused by the pandemic. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
DAMAGE CAP WOULD BE LIFTED FOR SOME PET DEATHS, INJURIES: A proposal in the General Assembly would lift the cap on damages in lawsuits over a pet’s death or injury in certain circumstances, including when gross negligence or a constitutional violation occurred. The bill is in response to a 2021 ruling in Maryland’s Court of Appeals that limited the financial award in a case where an Anne Arundel County police officer fatally shot a dog. The court ruled that current law caps compensatory damages at $10,000 and does not allow for noneconomic damages for a pet owner’s pain and suffering. Madeleine O’Neill/The Daily Record.
POLITICAL NOTES: HOGAN’s DAUGHTER RUNNING FOR STATE’S ATTY: Jaymi Sterling, a former deputy state’s attorney in St. Mary’s County, announced Wednesday that she is challenging her ex-boss, six-term State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz, in the upcoming Republican primary. She released a 30-second video in announcing her run. But nowhere in the ad — or on her campaign website — does Sterling mention that she is the step-daughter of Gov. Larry Hogan. Josh Kurtz and Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
Get your commentary published: In recent weeks, Maryland Reporter has published a wide range of opinion on issues that are before the General Assembly — or should be, writers say. Subjects like soft drinks for kiddie meals, security of mail-in ballots, car pricing on the internet, the hazards of corporate taxation and the fears of people with disabilities about assisted dying, If you have a commentary about Maryland government and politics you’d like to see published, send it along to Len@MarylandReporter.com. It needs to be exclusive to Maryland Reporter and 700 words or less.
B’MORE TO HIRE CONSULTANT ON COUNCIL REDISTRICTING PROCESS: Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby won approval Wednesday to hire a consultant to assist the City Council with Baltimore’s redistricting process as the city awaits the mayor’s own redistricting proposal. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.
HUD SECRETARY TALKS AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: One day after President Joe Biden gave his State of the Union address, one of his administration officials – HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge – traveled across the D.C. border to Prince George’s County to talk about affordable housing. William Ford/The Washington Informer.
CARROLL COVID RATE NOW CONSIDERED ‘LOW COMMUNITY LEVEL:’ As Carroll County’s COVID-19 case rates continue to decline, only one new death was attributed to the coronavirus this week in the county, according to the health department. The COVID-19 positivity rate reached 4.69% this week, and the county is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be at low COVID-19 community level. Molly Fellin Spence/Carroll County Times.
MARYLANDERS FOR AFFORDABLE RX: Marylanders for Affordable Rx is educating policymakers and the public on the real reasons behind high prescription drug costs and exposing special interests that are out to pad their bottom line at the expense of Maryland’s hardworking people. Across the country and in our state, we see special interests, like Big Pharma and the independent pharmacy lobby, push agendas that would make it harder for patient advocates like pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs. Learn more and help us stop special interests from increasing our Rx costs. (Paid Advertising)