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  Mayor Brandon Scott announced Wednesday morning he will lift some COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants. Beginning Friday morning, those establishments may operate indoor dining at 25% capacity and outdoor dining at 50% capacity. 

Bars without a food license may operate at 25% capacity. Scott also will enact a one-hour seating limit in all dining and bar establishments. 


Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch has told county school officials they must run COVID-19 vaccination clinics for their employees.

Branch told the school board Tuesday night that if BCPS cannot run the clinics, its employees will have to get in line with everyone else waiting to get the vaccine.

University of Maryland Medical System

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson is criticizing the state health department for a slow vaccine rollout and blaming the governor’s pick to run the department, Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader. 

Ferguson told reporters Tuesday that the Senate is unlikely to confirm Schrader as health secretary unless vaccine distribution improves.

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Governor Larry Hogan said Tuesday he will send the General Assembly a spending plan for the next fiscal year that includes $1 billion in targeted tax cuts and record spending on education and other priorities.

But he wouldn’t say what his total budget request will be.

Sean Naron, Baltimore County

Baltimore County teachers and staff will begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine this week, but it is unclear how that will affect when school buildings reopen for students. All of the county’s school buildings have been closed since March.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Former Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., a potent force in Maryland politics for half a century and the longest serving state senate president in US history, died Friday after a two-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 78.

Miller, who stepped down as Senate President in 2019 because of his failing health and resigned his seat representing parts of Southern Maryland last month, was recognized as a master politician.

Screenshot via CharmTV

  Mayor Brandon Scott will keep Baltimore’s Phase 1 COVID-19 in place  the city’s intensive and acute care units approach the limits of their  capacity..


“Unfortunately, we are still seeing the impacts of New Year's Eve in our data,” the Democrat said at a news conference. “These are not decisions that I made lightly.” 

Scott said the plight of restaurant owners and restaurant workers, whose businesses are only open for carryout, keeps him up at night. 

Baltimore City Health Department / Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate on Friday voted along party lines to override 16 of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes. The list of bills includes three intended to reduce crime in Baltimore City that passed last year with bipartisan support.

  

SCREENSHOT VIA GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN FACEBOOK PAGE

Maryland is expanding access to telehealth services for mental and behavioral health disorders. 

  

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said in a news conference Thursday that insurance carriers and Medicaid would be required to reimburse patients  for audio-only telehealth services under a measure they are sending to the General Assembly. 

John Lee

The clash between residents of an historically African American neighborhood in East Towson and a developer of affordable housing is coming down to a final legal battle.

Both sides squared off Wednesday before Administrative Law Judge Maureen Murphy, who will settle the dispute.

YouTube

Maryland officials plan to accelerate the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, making 1.5 million residents eligible for the vaccine by the end of the month.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland General Assembly convened for its annual 90-day session Wednesday, and it is already unlike any session the state has seen before. Rachel Baye and Nathan Sterner discuss how lawmakers have adjusted their long-held traditions for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. 

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Baltimore City Council members introduced a package of housing relief bills Wednesday night during a reconvened meeting that was suspended earlier this week when the city’s video conferencing system failed due to a Webex outage. 

Though the coronavirus pandemic is not the genesis of the city’s longstanding housing insecurity issues, its resounding effects — shuttered businesses, job losses and long lines for unemployment benefits — have exacerbated the crisis.   

As Maryland’s General Assembly reconvened in Annapolis Wednesday, Senate President Bill Ferguson said fixing Maryland’s “broken unemployment insurance system” is among his top priorities.

Meeting with reporters after the Senate’s opening session, Ferguson said one way to alleviate the backlog of 41,000 claimants still awaiting unemployment benefits is to beef up the staff.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Mayor Brandon Scott announced Wednesday Baltimore City recycling curbside pickup services will resume next week, ending a six-month suspension first enacted due to COVID-19 outbreaks among crews that led to a shortage of workers.

Wikimedia Commons

As Maryland’s annual General Assembly session opens Wednesday, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates are pushing a package of bills that would provide relief to tenants and homeowners hurt by the pandemic. 

The session begins weeks before eviction and foreclosure moratoriums expire on Jan. 31. 

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County teachers told the school board Tuesday night that they need help dealing with their students who are in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a public hearing on the proposed budget for the coming year, the teachers pleaded with the school board to ask the county for more money to pay for mental health professionals and social workers.

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Frustrated by legislative inaction, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order Tuesday to create a citizens’ commission to redraw Maryland’s Congressional district lines.  

The lines Democratic state lawmakers drew almost 10 years ago often have been held up as a textbook example of partisan gerrymandering. And Hogan’s attempts to create a citizens’ commission to redraw those lines have never gotten out of a legislative committee.

So, he said in an afternoon news conference he would take things into his own hands.

Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR

The Aug. 10 explosion in Northwest Baltimore that killed two people, injured seven and reduced three rowhomes to rubble was due to a “large natural gas buildup” ignited by a stove, city officials said Tuesday morning.

  

John Lee

The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are driving Baltimore County School Superintendent Darryl Williams’ proposed $1.77 billion budget that goes before a public hearing Tuesday.

For example, Williams said, more of the county’s students qualify for free and reduced-price meals because of the pandemic.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


Baltimore City council members were in the middle of introducing a slew of new legislation at their first virtual meeting of the year Monday when a robotic voice interrupted their proceedings: “The host has not yet arrived. Please stand by. ”

The voice was the harbinger of every lawmaker’s worst logistical nightmare during a virtual legislative session: a widespread Webex outage. The technical failure promptly booted the council off their video call. The members attempted to wait it out for more than half an hour before Council President Nick Mosby’s office announced the meeting would be suspended and resume Wednesday evening.

SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

 

Baltimore City Council members and housing advocates announced a legislative package Monday afternoon to address housing insecurity. The bills will be introduced at January’s city council meetings. 

The package includes a bill that would prevent landlords from evicting tenants when their leases expire. Landlords have been able to legally evict tenants using this method amid eviction moratoriums. 

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Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday a $1 billion package of tax relief and direct payments to some Marylanders in an effort to shore up the state’s flagging economy.

Nursing home residents and staff are among the first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. But in Maryland, many nursing homes have not used a majority of their allocated doses. 

Joseph DeMattos Jr., the CEO of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, said that distributing the vaccine is a huge logistical undertaking. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City will stay in amended Phase 1 COVID-19 restrictions that ban indoor and outdoor dining, Mayor Scott announced Friday. He said he arrived at his decision after reviewing numbers that indicated a surging post-holiday spread and rising positivity rates.

Courtesy of the Comptroller's Office

State Comptroller Peter Franchot is pushing the idea of a Maryland stimulus package to supplement the federal package Congress passed in December.

He says the $600 checks in that package will be of little help and that Maryland should issue the $2,000 checks that Congress rejected, and that President Trump called for in his criticism of the bill.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland General Assembly returns to Annapolis Wednesday for its annual 90-day legislative session, and it will be unlike any session the state has seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic will shape not just how the laws are made, but is expected to be a focal point of the policies written. 

Governor Larry Hogan/Facebook

Gov. Larry Hogan is calling for President Donald Trump to resign or be removed from office. At a press conference Thursday, he said Vice President Mike Pence should lead until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County has received more than 11,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines thus far, and County Executive Johnny Olszewski promised Thursday that “no vaccine will go to waste.”

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski wants the county’s inspector general to have oversight authority of the county school system.

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