State Roundup: Senate Panel Knocks Hogan, Salmon Over Failing To Provide More Pandemic Guidance To Schools

HOGAN, SALMON CHASTISED FOR LACK OF SCHOOL DIRECTION: Members of a Maryland Senate committee chastised Gov. Larry Hogan and State School Superintendent Karen Salmon for failing to provide assistance to local superintendents and health officials to guide them during the pandemic. School leaders said statewide health and safety guidelines would help the public feel more confident about reopening, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports.

  • Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes that Sen. Paul Pinsky said, “I find the silence deafening coming from the state, from the governor, from the Department of Health, from the state superintendent, that there’s not a clear procedure…health is health.”

FRANCHOT PUSHES HOGAN ON BUSINESS AID PLAN: Maryland business owners could see additional state aid as part of Thursday announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan, who is being urged by a prominent Democrat to make any package large and quickly available, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Hogan firmed up the timeline for an announcement during an exchange Wednesday with Comptroller Peter Franchot, who made a direct appeal to the governor for $500 million in immediate state aid for businesses.

W. HOWARD LACKS VOTING OPTIONS: After the fifth early voting site in Howard County was announced at the end of August, some voters, especially in the western part of the county, were left wondering why the options seemed less accessible to them, Ana Faguy of the Howard County Times reports. Like most things in this tumultuous year, the answer can be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Guy Mickley, director of the Howard County Board of Elections.

VIRAL VIDEO OF BALLOT FRAUD CALLED UNTRUE: Elections officials in Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss a viral video alleging that an election worker attempted to tamper with a mailed-in ballot. Rebecca Tan of the Post reports that a thorough investigation revealed no evidence of fraud or misconduct, Montgomery County officials said, but they’re concerned that the video may have spread some damaging misinformation.

VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATES ON LOOKOUT FOR INTIMIDATION: With less than a week until early voting begins in Maryland, voting rights advocates say they’ll be keeping an eye out for voter confusion and intimidation as voters head to the polls in what promises to be an unconventional general election, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters reports.

ADVOCATES: WOMAN MISTAKENLY TOLD SHE CAN’T VOTE: A group of voting and prisoner advocates joined a 36-year-old woman for a news conference Wednesday outside the city elections office downtown. They said the woman should not have received the letter because a 2016 state law ensures that Marylanders convicted of felonies can register to vote as soon as they are released from prison, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports.

HOUSE SPEAKER SEEKS POLICE REFORM: Adrienne A. Jones recalls 30 years ago, working for Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger, when a police officer pulled her over for a broken taillight, placing his hand on his gun holster when she asked whether it “was really necessary” for four police cars to surround her vehicle. Now, this most powerful woman in the state is seeking to reshape policing in the Maryland, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

OPINION: OPPOSE QUESTION 1: Former state Sen. Andrew A. Serafini, in a column for the Maryland Public Policy Institute, opines that “Question 1 on this year’s ballot allows Maryland’s legislature to add expenditures to the governor’s proposed budget. Though many bright and experienced people from both parties have advocated for this legislation, in my view they have failed to be convincing. Future governors, should this measure pass, will have a new tool as well, the line item veto. Nevertheless, I am opposed.”

MORGAN STATE EYES MEDICAL SCHOOL: Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal writes about how Morgan State University intends to build a $110 million medical school without using state funds. The university says that it will take three years to build.

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.

HOWARD LOSING ELECTION JUDGES: In the past week, 90 to 100 of Howard County’s 1,995 election judges have quit, according to the county Board of Elections. Ana Faguy of the Howard County Times writes that Kimberly Phillips, a Howard County election supervisor who oversees the judges, said judges are increasingly coming into contact with individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing them to self-quarantine.

MD BIZ BOOST THE VOTE: Just weeks away from a contentious presidential election amid a pandemic, Baltimore-area companies are joining corporate America’s growing movement to boost voter engagement, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports.

PARENTS OF SPECIAL ED STUDENTS SEE NO WIN SITUATION: Allison Stewart savors watching her son Landon’s schooling at home, like the moment he lit up after getting a perfect score on a test he was able to turn in without help. But she worries because Landon is missing out on special educational services that in-school learning provides, Lillian Reed and Angela Roberts of the Sun report. But often special ed students have underlying health conditions that put them at a higher risk for COVID-19, and some teachers and parents worry that returning to schools is too dangerous.

CARROLL’s FIRST DAYS OF HYBRID LEARNING GET HIGH MARKS: Elementary and middle school students returned to Carroll County Public Schools buildings on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Maryland schools. Kristin Griffith of the Carroll County Times writes that Darryl Robbins, the principal at Robert Moton Elementary School, said the first two days of hybrid learning were “amazing.” “I know you couldn’t see their faces from the masks,” he said, “but you could see the smiles in their eyes.”

AIR POLLUTION DROPS: In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, as stay-at-home orders took effect and more commuters worked from home or lost their jobs, air pollution dropped markedly in Maryland, according to a recent report from the University of Maryland and the state’s Department of the Environment, Rachel Clair for the Capital News Service reports.

COVID PROTOCOLS NEEDED DURING HALLOWEEN: Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa emphasized Wednesday the importance of continued adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols as Halloween approaches and the weather begins to cool down, writes Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter. “Anytime you’re going outside and leaving your home you should wear your face covering …” Dzirasa said in an interactive Facebook Live conversation. Baltimore City has 16,928 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 457 deaths from the virus.

OPINION: MODERATORS MATTER: Writing that the presidential debate and town hall have not been conducted on a level playing field, presumably giving former VP Joe Biden an advantage in part because of the biases of the moderators and the hatred of President Trump, Towson rhetoric professor Richard Vatz opines in the Sun that “the hatred for Mr. Trump allows people who are generally honest to rationalize that ‘Everything’s fair, including suspending integrity, in getting rid of Trump.’”

MARYLAND MAN CHARGED WITH THREATENING BIDEN, HARRIS: U.S. Secret Service agents have charged a Maryland man with threatening a presidential candidate, saying he wrote a letter in which he warns of beating “Grandpa Biden,” raping Sen. Kamala Harris and targeting the supporters of the Democrats, reports Tim Prudente of the Sun.

  • James Dale Reed, 42, was charged Wednesday in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. Secret Service agents had previously interviewed him at his Frederick home, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports.