State Roundup: Waking Up To President’s Positive Test Tweet; Md. Cases Are Down

TRUMP TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: President Donald Trump has tested positive for coronavirus, along with first lady Melania Trump, the first couple tweeted early Friday morning, Regina Holmes reports for Maryland Reporter.

VISITING IN NURSING HOMES ALLOWED: Maryland’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has progressed to the point at which many of the state’s nursing homes will now be allowed to resume indoor visitation, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter.

  • His announcement was on a day there were no new coronavirus deaths, Bryan Sears reports in The Daily Record. The eased restrictions, effective immediately, will allow for the visits at any nursing home that is not experiencing an outbreak, or has not reported new cases in the last 14 days and is NOT in a local jurisdiction where the positivity rate is above 10%. (CORRECTION: Original story omitted the word NOT.)
  • Childcare facilities will also be able to open back at normal capacity, since there have been no spikes in COVID-19 cases since child care facilities were able to increase their capacity from 10 to 15 children per room in June, Katryna Perera reports for the Frederick News-Post.
  • Demand for childcare has been high as facilities have limited capacity and many schools remain closed, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times-News. Child care centers will be permitted up to 20, 3- and 4-year-olds in a room with a ratio of one teacher to 10 students, and up to 30 school-age students with a ratio of one teacher to 15 students.
  • With rapid testing and improving health metrics, Hogan said there is “no excuse for not trying to bring kids back” into the classroom, Mike Hellgren reports for WJZ.
  • Stopping family from visiting loved ones in nursing homes has been heartbreaking, Tre Ward reports for WBALTV on reaction to the decision to reopen visits.

CRINGING AT DEBATE: Maryland’s governor “could barely watch” Tuesday’s presidential debate, CBS reports on comments made during Thursday’s presser, which was held before news broke that President Donald Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. Hogan called the debate a “train wreck.”

WEALTH TAX COULD EASE CORONAVIRUS BUDGET WOES: Many academics and politicians say the solution to state coronavirus-related budget shortfalls is to impose a wealth tax on top income earners, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter.

COMMENTARY: REPLACE INCOME TAXES WITH NET WORTH PROPOSAL: By implementing a net worth tax on wealthy individuals and a 3% federal sales tax, the federal government could totally overhaul how it obtains revenue to provide for the common defense and general welfare, Fred Lobbin writes for Maryland Reporter. The Net Worth Tax Proposal eliminates all forms of the income tax and replaces those forms with a tax on the net worth of individuals and taxable organizations.

DROP BOX VOTING, MAIL IN COUNTING BEGINS: About 5,000 ballots have already been cast in drop boxes in Anne Arundel County, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Capital Gazette.

  • Maryland has already started counting mail-in ballots, the earliest state to start in the nation, Kate Amara reports for WBALTV.
  • Baltimore County put 13 drop boxes in place this week and all are being monitored by security guards, John Lee reports for WYPR.

VOTERS SHOULD PREPARE FOR IMPORTANT BALLOT QUESTIONS: Ballot questions being considered this year include major issues such as changes to Baltimore City government following the scandal with former Mayor Catherine Pugh, and public financing being offered in Baltimore County elections, Emily Opilo and Talia Richman report for the Sun.

PURPLE LINE FUTURE HOPEFUL: Hogan is pledging that the state’s Purple Line project will resume in his first comments since the relationship with the prime contractor collapsed, reports Bruce DePuyt with Maryland Matters.

  • Some of the developers who depend on the project for their plans are slowing down as uncertainty looms, however, with others moving ahead, Alex Koma reports for the Washington Business Journal.
  • The University of Maryland is waiting on development in the middle of its campus and is disappointed in interruptions the project’s progress. The university awaits further updates on the construction timeline, Anaya Truss-Williams reports for the Diamondback.

HOGAN’S STEPDAUGHTER RESIGNS AMID CONTROVERSY: St. Mary’s prosecutor Jaymi Sterling, former deputy state’s attorney and Hogan’s stepdaughter, is resigning from the state’s attorney’s office following her demotion after she had reported  “questionable” financial and personnel practices at the office to authorities, Dan Belson reports for Southern Maryland News.

POLICE REFORM MOVES FORWARD: More than a dozen proposals including body cameras and mental health checks are likely to be included as legislators begin crafting a package that will address police reform, Emily Opilo reports for the Sun.

  • The biggest bone of contention for the group of Maryland lawmakers charged with police reform is the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Post. The law is the nation’s oldest and extends broad protections to police.

MD SEN LEADS ON CRISIS RESPONSE ALTERNATIVES: Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen and California Rep. Karen Bass, both Democrats, are proposing legislation that would help expand and pay for crisis response programs that include agencies outside police departments, Phil Davis reports for the Sun.

GOOD BYE TO MASKS IN OC: Ocean City will no longer be requiring masks on the boardwalk, though they are still encouraged where social distancing isn’t possible, Matthew Prensky reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

FEDERAL PLANNING GROUP LOOKS AT 495/270 PROPOSAL: The National Capital Planning Commission has reservations about a plan to expand the Capital beltway 495 and I-270, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.

CLEANING THE CHESAPEAKE: The Chesapeake Bay cleanup program is on its way to $92 million in annual funding through 2025, Ben Leonard reports for the Sun. The House of Representatives unanimously passed a conservation bill Thursday that would reauthorize the funding, and bay conservation advocates expect President Donald Trump will sign it.

CANNABIS EXPANDING: “After more than a year of delays due to logistical errors and allegations of impropriety, the state has picked 11 companies to expand and diversify the Maryland’s medical cannabis industry,” Pamela Wood reports for the Sun.

EDITORIAL: SOLAR PROJECT APPEAL SUPPORTED: Frederick County is right to challenge a proposed solar project in Walkersville that was approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, the editorial board of The Frederick News-Post writes.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS NOMINATION: Rockville attorney Terrence M.R. Zic was nominated Thursday to the state’s second-highest court, the Court of Special Appeals, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record.

REVIEW: BOOK DETAILS MD’S HOWARD: A new biography chronicles the story of Revolutionary War officer John Eager Howard, who went on to serve as governor of Maryland and in the U.S. Senate, Bill Hughes reports for the Baltimore Post-Examiner.