State Roundup: 18,200 New Jobs, But Jobless Rate Increases

18,200 JOBS ADDED, BUT JOBLESS RATE INCREASES: Maryland added 18,200 jobs in September while the state’s unemployment rate increased from 6.9% to 7.2%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday morning. The state added 24,200 jobs in August. The national unemployment rate is at 7.9%. Bryan Renbaum reports in

STATE OSHA CALLED OUT ON INSPECTIONS: Attorneys with a Baltimore public-interest law center allege that Maryland’s occupational safety program has failed to properly investigate workplace hazards, leaving workers in danger during the coronavirus pandemic, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports. The Public Justice Center filed a complaint with the federal agency charged with protecting workers, seeking a “full investigation” on its claims that Maryland Occupational Safety and Health has not followed its own procedures on when to conduct workplace inspections.

STATE SUBMITS 2-PHASE VACCINE PLAN: Even though no coronavirus vaccine has been approved by regulators and widespread availability is likely months away, health officials are planning for how to vaccinate Marylanders, Pamela Wood and Hallie Miller report in the Sun.

  • Under Phase 1, Maryland would provide vaccines to those who are most at-risk of developing complications from COVID-19 exposure — nursing home residents and staff, and people who reside in long-term care and assisted living facilities as well as those who work in high-risk professions: first responders, health care personnel who care for coronavirus patients, public safety personnel, teachers and other school employees, and workers in congregate living facilities, such as homeless shelters and jails, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.
  • No decision has been made about exactly who would be eligible for the first round, but the state estimates that 14% of Maryland’s roughly 6 million people will fall into the phase one category, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

DEARTH OF MARYLAND WOMEN AT FEDERAL LEVEL: While there has been a surge of Maryland women passing policy on the local level – including top leadership in the House of Delegates — there remains a dearth of leadership at the federal level, Talia Richman of the Sun reports. The state’s 10-member congressional delegation is entirely male, and mostly white. Maryland is one of only 12 states with no female representation in Washington.

TRACKING YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT: This week marks the deadline for Maryland voters to submit their mail-in ballot requests, the first critical step to casting a ballot without having to make an appearance at an in-person voting center this fall. Emily Opilo of the Sun explains how to track your ballot.

45% OF ARUNDEL MAIL-IN BALLOTS RETURNED: With two weeks until Election Day, about 71,000 Anne Arundel voters who requested a mail-in ballot have returned them so far, roughly 45% of the total. The deadline for requesting a ballot arrives today. Voters can either place a paper ballot request in a dropbox by 8 p.m. Tuesday or request a one online until midnight, Brooks DuBose of the Capital Gazette reports.

MO CO JUGGLING 365,100 VOTE-BY MAIL APPLICATIONS: As the Nov. 3 general election nears, Montgomery County election officials are working through vote-by-mail applications and ballots — processing more than 365,100 vote-by mail applications and a backlog of 5,300 more that must be completed by Tuesday, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.

FLAT STATE BORROWING RECOMMENDED: A state capital debt panel has recommended the state limit the amount it will borrow next year to less than $1.1 billion, dashing the hopes of some who want Maryland to expand bonding to stimulate its economy. The $1.095 billion recommendation would be equal to that borrowed in the current year, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

Adding Resilience to the Energy Equation:The Electric Infrastructure Security Council identifies a “Black Sky Hazard” as a catastrophic event that severely disrupts the normal functioning of critical infrastructures in multiple regions for long durations which occur as a result of climate events, cyber terrorism, EMP, or super-storms. This FREE Webinar on October 22nd will discuss strategies for disaster preparedness to ensure resilience, and focus on energy supply as a critical component of this planning.

HOGAN FACES BACKLASH ON VOTE FOR REAGAN: Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to repudiate President Trump by casting a write-in vote for Ronald Reagan has drawn swift and sustained backlash from many Democratic supporters and some anti-Trump Republicans who had admired Hogan’s willingness to break with the White House, Erin Cox and Rachel Chason of the Post report.

DRINKING WATER IN 2 SHORE COUNTIES PROBLEMATIC: Two counties on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore, where there are hundreds of concentrated animal feeding operations, have unhealthy levels of nitrate in drinking water, which may lead to health problems such as blue baby syndrome, thyroid disease and pregnancy complications, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters reports.

SCOTT TAPS TRANSITION TEAM: Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott, the Democratic nominee for mayor, released a list Tuesday of the nine leaders of his transition team.The announcement came at the same time Scott’s principal general election opponent, businessman Robert Wallace, who is running as an independent, released a poll showing the race is tightening, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters is reporting.

  • The nine-member team Scott assembled includes representatives from city nonprofit organizations, a union and the business community. Prominent Baltimore figures — such as former Baltimore Raven and philanthropist Torrey Smith — also were tapped, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

CITY PANEL FAILS TO BLOCK FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY: Baltimore’s Public Safety Committee refused Tuesday to advance a bill that that sought to prohibit the use of facial recognition technology, with some members citing concerns that it could affect the city’s police department, Phil Davis of the Sun reports.

LAME DUCK MAYOR: BIG DECISIONS, SCANT COMMUNICATIONS: Talia Richman of the Sun writes how lame duck Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced – through an email – that the city would outsource its problem-plagued water billing operation and lay off more than 60 employees in the process. The episode is perhaps the most emblematic of how Young is handling the final weeks of his short mayoral tenure: pushing forward on decisions with long-lasting implications without fully communicating with his expected successor or the public