State Roundup: Moore Warns Of ‘A Very Long Road Ahead’ As Feds Ok $60M In Aid; Lawmakers Rush To Help Port Workers And Businesses; ‘The Key Bridge Is Us’

MOORE WARNS OF ‘VERY LONG ROAD AHEAD’ AS FEDS OK $60 MILLION IN AID: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore warned Thursday of a “very long road ahead” to recover from the loss of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge as the Biden administration approved $60 million in immediate federal aid after the deadly collapse. Massive barges carrying cranes streamed toward the site to begin the challenging work of removing twisted metal and concrete as a first step toward reopening a key shipping route blocked by the wreckage of the span. Lea Skene and Brian Witte (AP)/WBAL TV 

STATE LAWMAKERS SCRAMBLE TO HELP PORT WORKERS AND BUSINESSES: The General Assembly is quickly approaching an end-of-session deadline but lawmakers are still scrambling to introduce legislation in response to this week’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), are working on an emergency bill that would assist workers and businesses at the Port of Baltimore who are affected by the indefinite halt of boat traffic. Kiersten Hacker, Angelique Gingras, Lydia Hurley & Tyrah Burris of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

“THE KEY BRIDGE IS US”: Two days after the Key Bridge’s collapse, residents of Dundalk and the nearby communities of Turner Station and Sparrows Point are mourning the workers who died – one of whom lived in Dundalk. They’re also fearful for what the future will hold for their many neighbors who work at the Port of Baltimore. But in all the tragedy and uncertainty that has followed the collapse, longtime residents of the communities surrounding the bridge are grieving the loss of the structure itself, which has been a fixture in the Baltimore skyline for close to 50 years. Angela Roberts/The Baltimore Sun

HUNDREDS  OF MD. BRIDGES ARE ‘FRACTURE CRITICAL’: The design of the Key Bridge was not the reason it collapsed when the massive container ship, the Dali, slammed into one of the bridge’s main support piers on Tuesday morning, but it helps explain why the structure gave way within seconds after impact. The Key Bridge was one of only 17,000 bridges in the country, about 3%, characterized as having a “fracture critical” design, meaning if one portion sustained enough damage, the entire structure would collapse. Ben Conarck, Ramsey Archibald & Daniel Zawodny/The Baltimore Banner

BALTIMORE NEEDS THE SUPPLY CHAIN MORE THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND: While the Baltimore region is grappling with a crisis that could put thousands out of work and cost millions of dollars in economic activity, experts say the supply chain is pivoting — and doing it fast. Giacomo Bologna, Adam Willis & Emily Sullivan/The Baltimore Banner

HECKLERS SHUT DOWN REP. RASKIN’S SPEECH ON DEMOCRACY: Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s planned lecture on democracy Thursday at the University of Maryland, College Park instead turned into a lively discussion on the Israel-Hamas conflict after pro-Palestine protesters interrupted his speech. Yesenia Montenegro of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT RESPONDS TO RACIST INSULTS: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has come to expect overt and not-so-overt racism. The latest example came in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Within hours, Scott said he started to notice social media posts labeling him as a “DEI Mayor.” Scott immediately bristled at the dog whistle. John-John Williams IV/The Baltimore Banner

TWO STATE SENATORS PROPOSE CHANGES TO STATE OF EMERGENCY ORDER: Two state senators are proposing an extension of emergency powers for the governor following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) said he and Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) wanted to focus on a way to allow the state to expedite construction of the bridge while limiting some powers granted by a standard state of emergency declaration. Bryan P. Sears & William J. Ford/Maryland Matters

HOUSE FINALLY PASSES MOORE’S LAST HOUSING BILL: Early in the 2024 General Assembly session, Gov. Wes Moore made clear that pushing legislation that worked to improve Maryland’s 96,000-unit housing shortage would be a top priority. But House Bill 538 lagged behind Moore’s other two housing-centered bills. The legislation finally cleared the House Thursday on a 98-36 vote, sending the bill off for Senate consideration mere days before the end of the legislative session on April 8. Danielle J. Brown/Maryland Matters

SENATOR FROM MOCO DEFENDS TWO OF HIS HIGH-PROFILE BILLS: With less than two weeks left in the Maryland General Assembly session, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery) on Wednesday found himself defending two of his high-profile bills before the House Judiciary Committee, where he once served. Both measures deal broadly with the question of legal liability and a plaintiff’s ability to collect damages. The more prominent bill, Senate Bill 488, would give the state attorney general the authority to sue firearms manufacturers and gun dealers. William J. Ford & Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters