State Roundup: Aid Bill For Port Workers, Businesses Moves To Full Senate; Session Extension Possible As Budget Disagreements Continue

AID BILL FOR PORT WORKERS, BUSINESSES MOVES TO SENATE: Lawmakers continue to fast-track legislation aimed at helping workers and businesses impacted by the Key Bridge collapse. Under the bill the state Department of Labor would create a temporary relief program to provide assistance to people who were paid to work at the port, are unable to work through due to the Port closure and do not qualify for unemployment benefits. The Department of Commerce would also create a temporary relief program for small businesses. Mikenzie Frost/WBFF-TV News.

  • The goal of the Maryland Protecting Opportunities and Regional Trade Act is to provide “some modicum of protection and relief,” Senate President Bill Ferguson testified Tuesday at a brief bill hearing before the Senate’s Finance Committee. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
  • The temporary aid package for workers and businesses heads to the full Senate after a unanimous committee vote Tuesday. Senate Bill 1188, allows Gov. Wes Moore (D) to tap the state’s rainy day fund to offset lost wages and entice related businesses to remain at the Port of Baltimore. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

BUSINESS RECOVERY CENTERS OPEN IN CANTON, DUNDALK: Gov. Wes Moore and other state officials toured one of the two U.S. Small Business Administration Business Recovery Centers for businesses impacted by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse and the partial shutdown of the Port of Baltimore. Businesses are eligible for low-interest loans of up to $2 million.  Sen. Ben Cardin was also among those visiting the center in Canton, which along with the one in Dundalk, helps workers with loan applications and seeking unemployment. Robert Lang/WBAL-Radio News.

SESSION EXTENSION POSSIBLE AS BUDGET DISAGREEMENTS CONTINUE: The Maryland legislative session may not end Monday night as planned. After lawmakers failed to reach an agreement over the state budget, Gov. Wes Moore issued a proclamation Monday evening extending the legislative session for up to 10 days. The state constitution requires the procedural move when the General Assembly has not finalized the budget by the end of the 83rd day of the session, which was Monday. Rachel Baye/WYPR-FM.

  • Maryland’s $63 billion spending plan for next year is tangled in intraparty gridlock in Annapolis, as Democrats in the House and Senate have not meaningfully budged in the second day of a standoff over whether to pass $1.2 billion in tax and fee increases. Erin Cox and Katie Shepherd/The Washington Post.

SHOULD MOORE BE MORE ENGAGED IN BUDGET CLASH? Gov. Wes Moore is understandably and necessarily consumed with the Francis Scott Key bridge disaster and its myriad impacts. But the ship of state continues sailing, and as House and Senate leaders continue to clash over the governor’s $63 billion operating budget proposal in the waning days of the General Assembly session, some lawmakers wish they would get stronger signals about the administration’s preferences for how to resolve their differences. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

ADVOCATES MAKE FINAL PLEA FOR TENANT PROTECTIONS: Dozens of tenants and families of immigrants gathered on Lawyers Mall in front of the Maryland State House for one last rally in hopes that the Maryland Senate moves forward on bills that would protect renters from unjust evictions and unsafe living conditions. Danielle Brown/Maryland Matters.

KEY BRIDGE COULD BE BIGGEST FINANCIAL HIT TO NARITIME INDUSTRY: The deadly collapse of the Key Bridge could rival or beat the maritime industry’s largest-ever financial loss, with insurance claims expected to reach $1 billion or more. “It’s going to be a big claim, and the big number there is the potential cost to rebuild the bridge,” said John A. Miklus, president of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters “This is one of the largest, most complicated marine claims I can think of.” Lorraine Mirabella/The Baltimore Sun.

BALTIMORE INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FEDERAL AID: A bottleneck in the most heavily trafficked passenger rail corridor in the United States. An archaic freight tunnel that’s just a little too small for the Port of Baltimore’s growing cargo demands. Baltimore’s infrastructure had plenty of big needs — totaling billions of dollars — even before the Key Bridge collapsed. But with the Biden administration and Democrats trying to make the case that they can rebuild the country’s scaffolding, Baltimore’s vulnerabilities may become an opportunity. Daniel Zawodny and Adam Willis/The Baltimore Banner.

WHO IS LEADING THE NTSB PROBE OF DALI ACCIDENT? Leading the NTSB’s probe of the Dali accident that brought down the Key Bridge is Marcel Muise, a marine casualty investigator who served in the U.S. Coast Guard and captained oil drilling ships and rigs before joining the safety board. Muise has been with the NTSB for six years, and the Key Bridge collapse is the largest disaster he has been tasked with overseeing since joining the agency. Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Banner.

DALI CREW REMAINS ON BOARD: Over the weekend, the crew still onboard the Dali ship could finally see for themselves what everyone had been saying about them. The 21 crew members — 20 from India and one from Sri Lanka — have been on board the Dali, performing their ship duties as they answer questions from investigators looking to piece together how a tragedy. Maya Lora/The Baltimore Sun.