State Roundup: New Law Raises Penalties For Threats Against Elections Workers; More Than 1,000 Businesses Seek Emergency Aid In Wake Of Key Bridge Disaster

PENALTIES FOR THREATENING ELECTION WORKERS RISE: Penalties for threatening election officials in Maryland are going up under an emergency bill that Gov. Wes Moore signed into law Tuesday, and will be in place for the May 14 primary. Oral, written and electronically-submitted threats are now punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to $2,500, up from a prison sentence of up to a year and fines up to $1,000. Matt Bush/WYPR-FM.

SOME JUVIE SEX OFFENDERS TO BE BANNED FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Certain juveniles sex offenders will no longer be allowed to attend Maryland public schools in person. Legislation that just passed in Annapolis aims to make school safer. Chris Papst/WBFF-TV News.

MO CO BILLS PASS UNDER THE WIRE: During the evening of the final session of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, several more bills sponsored by Montgomery County-based delegates passed through under the wire after undergoing challenges, delays and filibustering from Republican opponents. Ginny Bixby/MoCo 360.

ETHICS PANEL REBUKES DELEGATE FOR CONFLICT, MISUSE OF TITLE: A legislative ethics panel has called on Del. Shaneka Henson (D-Anne Arundel) to apologize to the public, the speaker of the House and other legislative leaders for her involvement in funding requests for a religious organization to which she belongs. The panel further recommended that Henson not be reassigned to the House Appropriations Committee after what it called an “ongoing practice” to hide her personal and professional relationship with an organization seeking more than $1 million in state bond money. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

KEY BRIDGE WORK COULD DEPLETE FEDERAL EMERGENCY HIGHWAY FUND: Maryland and Baltimore may jump ahead of states that have waited more than a decade for emergency highway funding, as the federal government swoops in with aid after the collapse of the Key Bridge. The Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief fund, which reimburses states for expenses to repair or reconstruct roadways after disasters, has a $2.1 billion backlog of projects and only $890 million on hand. Jacob Bogage/The Washington Post.

MORE THAN 1,000 SMALL BUSINESSES SEEK AID AFTER KEY COLLAPSE: More than 1,000 small businesses have sought emergency federal loans to stay afloat following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and closure of much of the Port of Baltimore, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Shaun Chornobroff and Emily R. Condon of Capital News Service/

NTSB FOCUSES ON DALI’s ELECTRICAL CIRCUITRY: National Transportation Safety Board investigators are focusing on electrical issues on the Dali container ship before it crashed into and destroyed Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge last month, board chair Jennifer Homendy said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Michael Laris, Ian Duncan and Katie Mettler/The Washington Post.

  • Homendy said representatives from Hyundai, the ship’s manufacturer, had flown from Korea to help investigators download data from the ship’s engine room and examine its electrical circuitry. Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Banner.

POLL FINDS CRIME ‘MAJOR FACTOR’ IN CANDIDATE CHOICE: Heading into next month’s primary election, crime, taxes, and economic development and jobs ranked at the top of a list of voters’ priorities, the latest Goucher/Banner poll found. Among a subset of Maryland voters, 78% of respondents said crime was a “major factor” that would influence their support of a political candidate. Economic development and jobs was another major factor for 76% of respondents, while 75% of those surveyed called taxes and government spending a major factor in their vote. Hallie Miller/The Baltimore Banner.

HARRY DUNN AMONG CANDIDATES WHO BATTLED TRUMP, HIS FOLLOWERS: Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer whose pitched battles with former President Donald J. Trump’s supporters on and after Jan. 6, 2021, vaulted him to political stardom, was greeted Tuesday evening in Annapolis like a celebrity. “We have a person here with a proven legislative record,” said an Annapolis Democrat, referring to state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, his main opponent in next month’s Democratic primary. But, she added, “You have heart.” Jonathan Weissman/The New York Times.

LONGTIME ALLIES: AG BROWN BACKS TRONE FOR SENATE: The political relationship between state Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) runs deep.So it wasn’t altogether surprising that Brown endorsed Trone for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, cutting a TV commercial in which he testifies to Trone’s abilities, priorities and trustworthiness. Josh Kurtz and William Ford/Maryland Matters.

JUDGE BLASTS MFUME’s OFFICE FOR TRYING TO GET STAFFER OFF JURY DUTY: A Baltimore judge criticized the office of U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume in open court for trying to get one of his staffers excused from jury duty, calling the move “totally inappropriate” and “outside the bounds of respect from one branch of government to the other.” Dylan Segelbaum/The Baltimore Banner.

POLL FINDS SCOTT GAINING WITH VOTERS: Mayor Brandon Scott has gained ground with voters over the last several months in Baltimore’s competitive Democratic mayoral primary race, according to a new survey from Goucher College Poll and The Baltimore Banner. Hallie Miller/The Baltimore Banner.

  • Scott is in the lead for the Baltimore City mayoral race, if it was held today. Scott has 40% of voters, followed by Sheila Dixon with 32%, Thiru Vignarajah at 11%, Bob Wallace at 3%, with the rest voting for some other candidate, or remaining unsure. Megan Rogers/WBFF-TV News.