State Roundup: Hogan Announces $250M Business Relief Fund From Rainy Day Money

NEW HELP FOR MD BUSINESSES, JOBS: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he’s drawing down the state’s Rainy Day Fund to offer $250 million more in financial relief for businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing recession, Pamela Wood and Hallie Miller report for the Sun. The biggest chunk of the money — $100 million — will be used to create an “emergency rapid response fund” for small businesses, so the state can pivot to help hard-hit areas or industries.

  • The new funds mean the state will have invested a total of $500 million in relief for businesses, Bryan Renbaum writes for Maryland Reporter.
  • Calling it a “desperate situation,” Hogan announced he wasn’t waiting for federal stimulus talks and would use about half of the state’s budget savings from last year to expand existing programs and fund new ones to help small businesses struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, Erin Cox reports for the Post.
  • The announcement came as federal talks stalled and the state comptroller is calling for even more aid, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record. The Office of the Comptroller estimates that as many as 30,000 businesses may have closed and Comptroller Peter Franchot, speaking Wednesday, said a failure to provide additional aid could cause another 20,000 to close by the end of the year.
  • Most of the money, $100 million, will be dedicated to an emergency rapid response fund that will “be available to immediately deploy to the other areas of economic need as we move forward,” Madeleine O’Neill reports for the USA Today network.
  • The economic relief package unveiled by Hogan includes money to eliminate a backlog of grant applications and includes targeted funding to help restaurants, Holden Wilen reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.
  • The plan includes $50 million in new relief for Maryland restaurants, Teresa McMinn report for the Cumberland Times-News. The money can be used for expenses including new equipment, technology to improve moving to carryout, expansion of outdoor dining for fall and winter, and funding for infrastructure and health improvements.
  • The relief plan is detailed by Baltimore Fishbowl, with bullet points for each major program and how it will help restaurants, small businesses, local entertainment venues, arts organizations, and Main Streets across the state.
  • The grants will be distributed by local governments, and they will have to do it quickly, with the state requiring them to spend it by Dec. 31, Joel McCord reports for WYPR.

MARYLANDERS SEEKING AID TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES: Maryland residents’ enrollment in federal food assistance programs has increased by 400% since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, Hannah Gaskill reports for Maryland Matters using information from Maryland Hunger Solutions. In Baltimore City, the jump was 600%.

LOCAL HELP FOR THE ARTS PLANNED TOO: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is launching a $1 million grant fund to help the arts using federal coronavirus relief money, the staff of Eye on Annapolis write.

OBJECTIONS OVER SCHOOL OPENINGS: Anne Arundel public school employees say they feel forced to return to classrooms under a reopening plan that offered them little choice amid safety concerns, Naomi Harris and Brandi Bottalico report for the Capital Gazette.

RALLY FOR RETURN TO SCHOOL IN HOCO: About 100 parents and students gathered Thursday afternoon outside the Howard County Board of Education headquarters in Ellicott City as horns blared to advocate for a plan to get kids back into schools for in-person learning, Ana Faguy reports for Baltimore Sun Media.

WESTERN MD DEALS WITH SCHOOL ‘OUTBREAK:’A Garrett County elementary school has classified two cases in the same classroom of COVID-19 as “an outbreak,” the staff of the Garrett County Republican report.

VOTING CHANGES IN HOWARD COUNTY: Almost half of Howard County residents are voting via mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election, more than almost any county in the state, Jacob Calvin Meyer reports for Baltimore Sun Media.

TEMPERATURE CHECK FOR VOTERS RECONSIDERED: Baltimore City election officials no longer plan to check the temperature of voters who choose to cast a ballot in person this fall, but may still do so with voters at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure, Emily Opilo reports for the Sun.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN BMORE: Baltimore’s four mayoral candidates joined a virtual debate to make their cases for why they are the best choice to lead a city that was suffering already from deep inequities long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Talia Richman reports for the Sun.

LOCAL LEADERS COMMENT ON I-495, I-270 EXPANSIONS: The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is raising objections to the proposed I-495 and I-270 widening and questioning its environmental impact, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat. The commission owns and maintains open space in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE DEAL FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION OK’D: Prince George’s County has formally decided to build six schools through a public-private partnership, William Ford reports for the Washington Informer. The school board approved the $1.2 billion partnership in a near-unanimous vote.

LAW TO FLAG EXTREME RISK GUN SITUATIONS USED FREQUENTLY: Since taking effect just over two years ago, Maryland’s extreme risk gun law has been used far more than other states with similar “red flag” laws, Ben Leonard reports for the Sun.

WHEN TO RESUME IN-PERSON MEETINGS?: The Carroll County Commissioners clashed Thursday when one board member suggested they should start meeting in person again after about seven months of meeting remotely, Mary Grace Keller reports for the Carroll County Times.