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Councilman questions Olszewski's authority under state of emergency

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government
Baltimore County Council. Credit: Baltimore County

The Baltimore County Council Monday night is expected to extend by another 30 days the county’s state of emergency.

One councilman is questioning whether County Executive Johnny Olszewski is overstepping his emergency powers in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the state of emergency, Olszewski will require county employees to get vaccinated or tested weekly. The start for the vaccination-or-testing program was originally going to be October 15 but county spokesman Sean Naron said it now will be after November 15.

At a recent council meeting, Republican Todd Crandell questioned Olszewski's authority to require vaccination or testing.

“The powers under the state of emergency are clearly enumerated in the charter,” Crandell said. “There’s nothing in there about vaccinations or requiring people to be tested.”

County Attorney James Benjamin told Crandell Olszewski has the power to protect the health, safety and welfare of county residents.

The four Democrats on the seven-member council are expected to give Olszewski the votes he needs to extend the state of emergency when they meet Monday.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2