State Roundup: Hogan Faces Backlash Over Election Plan; State Extends Jobless Benefits

BACKLASH TO HOGAN VOTE ORDER: When Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced an all-of-the-above strategy to conduct “a normal” election in November, he said it would maximize voter access during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Erin Cox of the Post reports, custodians of hundreds of polling precincts have said they will refuse to host voters or conditioned participating on the government paying to deep-clean and sanitize their venues. And thousands of veteran election judges have dropped out.

  • Stuart Harvey, Frederick County’s elections director, has been involved in helping run elections for three decades, wrote in an email Friday that typically, Frederick County has 900 election judges manning all the county’s polling places during a presidential general election. But, writes Steve Bohnel for the Frederick News Post, he’s advising the county’s Board of Elections that because of the pandemic, fewer polling places should be used, both because of lower staffing levels and private locations being closed.

STATE EXTENDS JOBLESS BENEFITS: The Maryland Department of Labor Friday announced the state has begun offering an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits through the Federal-State Extended Benefits program, Daily Record staff reports. The Extended Benefits program is available for claimants who have exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation assistance.

  • Claimants will be able to receive their same amount of benefits as under the regular and PEUC programs, officials said. Maryland qualified to offer the extension by meeting the federal threshold, which says the insured unemployment rate must exceed 5% and be at least 120% of the corresponding average rate in the prior two years, Lillian Reed reports for the Sun.

SEN. CARTER SLAMS HOGAN AS ‘TONE-DEAF:’ Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) slammed recent remarks by Gov. Larry Hogan in which he said that proposals to defund police departments are among the “worst ideas” he has “ever heard.” “It’s somewhat surprising that the governor of Maryland could be that blind and tone-deaf to the realities of our current state of policing and the way it has miserably failed the public,” Carter told Bryan Renbaum of on Friday.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS OPT FOR IN-PERSON CLASSES: As Maryland’s public schools announced their decisions to keep their doors closed at least for the beginning of the school year, private schools have done just the reverse — arguing they have the ability to give families the in-person classes they want while keeping students safe, Liz Bowie reports for the Sun.

MO CO BANS PRIVATE SCHOOLS FROM IN-PERSON LEARNING: Montgomery County’s decision on Friday to prohibit in-person lessons at private schools next semester has drawn critics, including Gov. Larry Hogan and Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, Andrew Schotz reports for Bethesda Beat.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) tweeted Saturday that he “strongly disagrees” with Montgomery County’s latest health order, writes Ryan Miner in his A Miner Detail blog. “As long as these schools develop safe plans that follow CDC and state guidelines they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community,” Hogan said.

HARFORD PARENTS, STUDENTS WEIGH IN ON ONLINE LEARNING: As Harford County schools prepare for virtual instruction this fall, students and parents are weighing in about the concerns, and benefits, of online learning. The system switched from in-person to virtual instruction in the spring after schools in the county, and across Maryland, closed in mid-March to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials are planning to hold classes online in the fall through next January, reports David Anderson of the Aegis is reporting.

CHILD-CARE REMAINS AN ISSUE: Alison Knezevich and Hallie Miller of the Sun write that many observers say that with day care centers operating at reduced capacity and the news that Baltimore-area public schools will teach online as the school year begins, it’s clear the child care conundrum isn’t going away — and that threatens the state’s recovery from the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

LANDLORDS SUE STATE OVER COVID POLICIES: are challenging laws that are intended to protect tenants from rent increases during the coronavirus pandemic, Talia Richman reports for the Sun. The companies are suing their local governments over three similar, recently enacted laws that bar landlords from raising rent or charging late fees during the state of emergency.

TENANTS IMPERILED: The pandemic has been devastating for tenants in Maryland, where an estimated 292,000 households are at risk of losing their homes due to coronavirus-related loss of income. Unless a moratorium on evictions is expanded, many could soon be homeless.

COLLEGES’ IN-PERSON CLASS PLANS MAY CHANGE: Jean Marbella, Christine Condon and Mary Grace Keller of the Sun survey Maryland colleges and universities to find that they generally are offering a mix of remote and in-person teaching. But that is subject to change, with some medical experts casting doubt on the safety of welcoming students and faculty back to campus and the path of the coronavirus continually taking unexpected turns.

  • And it already did for one: Goucher College will not host any in-person classes on its Towson campus this fall, the school announced on Friday. Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that Goucher’s fall semester’s courses will be conducted entirely online, though some students may be eligible to access campus housing.

909 NEW CASES SUNDAY: Phil Davis of the Sun reports that Maryland has confirmed 909 new cases of the coronavirus, seven more deaths and 39 fewer hospitalizations as the state saw its first significant drop in hospitalizations in recent weeks against an increase in the rate of positive tests. Sunday’s additions bring the state’s total to 90,274 cases of the COVID-19 illness.

  • With 23 new COVID-19 cases among Carroll County community members reported Friday, the county nearly tied the weekly record set last week, with one more day left in the week, and ended July with triple the amount of cases reported in June, Brian Compere of the Carroll County Times reports.
  • Here’s WBAL-TV’s interactive map on the latest figures.

BARTENDER RECOUNTS COVID EXPERIENCE: Shortly after she was released from quarantine Friday, Kathy Hare talked of the snowball effect COVID-19 has caused, and thanked the local liquor board for trying to slow further spread of the virus, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times News. After a bartender at the Cresaptown Eagles tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, the Allegany County liquor board indefinitely closed the social club.

MD CONGRESSMEN SEEK $32M FOR TRANSIT: Maryland’s congressional delegation is asking for an additional $32 billion in coronavirus relief funding for U.S. public transit systems — and for a larger share to go to transit systems serving mid-sized cities, such as Baltimore, where people depend heavily on the regional buses and trains, Colin Campbell of the Sun reports.

PANDEMIC, ECONOMY THREATEN PHILANTHROPIES: Robert McCartney of the Post is reporting that top executives in the philanthropy sector say that the twin crises of pandemic and recession are straining the region’s philanthropies and could force as many as a third of nonprofits to close or merge before the economy recovers.

WEDDING BELL BLUES: Maryland’s wedding industry faces unique challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Statewide social distancing guidelines still prohibit large gatherings, and, unlike restaurateurs and retailers, wedding vendors and venues must schedule everything around a specific date, Ellie Heffernan reports for the Daily Record.

FREDERICK TO VA. TRAIL SYSTEM BACKED: The region’s top transportation board has endorsed a proposal for a network of trails stretching across the greater Washington region, from Frederick, Md., to Prince William County, Va., that would expand the amount of off-road bicycle and pedestrian pathways to 1,400 miles, Luz Lazo of the Post is reporting.

MD GOP DELEGATES SCRAMBLE OVER CONVENTION ALTERNATIVES: President Donald Trump is to formally accept his party’s nomination at the end of August, but Maryland’s GOP delegates won’t be heading to their riverside Jacksonville hotel, or watching colorful balloons drop on a convention floor, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.

PART 2: HOGAN HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE:  Gov. Larry Hogan continues to make the rounds promoting his new book and talking politics. If you can’t get enough, here’s your Hogan-refresher:

BALTIMORE’s GOP MAYOR HOPEFUL EXAGGERATED RESUME: Ian Round of Baltimore Brew reports that Shannon Wright, the Republican Party nominee for mayor of Baltimore, repeatedly states she played a major role in a litigation aimed at desegregating the city of Yonkers, New York, years ago. But Wright wasn’t nearly as pivotal as she says she was, multiple sources say.

PUSH TO REMOVE LEE STATUE CONTINUES: A push to remove a controversial statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Antietam National Battlefield is continuing to get consideration in Congress, and could be wrapped with similar initiatives, according to a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.