Ballots Going Out for Vote-by-Mail Special Election

County elections officials on Wednesday mailed out the first batch of ballots for the April 28 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of former U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), a top administrator said. Additional ballots will be mailed out on Thursday and Friday. “By Friday all of the voters in the 7th congressional district will have ballots en route,” state Deputy Elections Administrator Nikki Charlson told the Board of Public Works. (Md. Matters)

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Baltimore spending board approves surveillance plane pilot program to capture images from city streets

Three privately funded surveillance planes were cleared to begin patrolling Baltimore from the sky Wednesday, over opposition from multiple civil liberties groups who warned that such surveillance could be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The city’s Board of Estimates approved the contract on a 3-2 vote, giving the OK for a six-month pilot of the program. It allows the planes to collect images of the city to help investigate murders, nonfatal shootings, armed robberies and carjackings. (Balt Sun)

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Baltimore City revenues could drop nearly $170 million

Baltimore’s budget director says the COVID-19 pandemic could cost the city nearly $170 million – $68.7 million in revenues this year and $100 million in fiscal 2021. “Many of our revenue streams are tied directly to economic activity, so as businesses close and tourism travel has been discouraged and daily activities have slowed to a crawl, we project sharp declines in some of our revenues,” Robert Cenname, budget director, told the Board of Estimates today. (Balt Brew)

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Maryland Gov. Hogan authorizes email-based telehealth, disability workers as essential during coronavirus crisis

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan added two executive orders to the state’s coronavirus response arsenal Wednesday, one that expands the use of telehealth to include email communication and the other establishing workers performing disability services as essential employees. The two orders add depth to an already sweeping and unprecedented series of government regulations designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent the state’s economy from collapsing. (Daily Record)

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Lawmakers look to infrastructure spending to help economy recover from coronavirus

Even as he issued a stay-at-home order for residents Wednesday to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the pandemic offered an opportunity to speed up construction on normally snarled roads, and announced that he would advance some $2.1 billion in infrastructure projects. It’s a silver lining in the pandemic that many states are finding. With cars off the road as people are told not to venture out, crews are continuing their work and getting more done than usual. (Wash Post)

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Rutherford: No Timeline On Easing Virus Restrictions

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said Wednesday that state officials are not putting a timeline on when restrictions put in place in response to COVID-19 could be relaxed. "We're hoping that the steps we've taken will level out the curve in regard to the number of new cases and particularly the number of people who have to go into hospitals," Rutherford told Yuripzy Morgan. "Generally speaking we're going to be looking for a slowdown or a plateauing of the rise of infections and, particularly, the hospitalizations." (WBAL)

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The list of those who won’t get a $1,200 stimulus check is growing — and includes some surprising groups

The Trump administration is requiring Americans who receive Social Security to file a tax return to receive their $1,200 economic stimulus payment, an added step that is causing confusion and could prevent millions from easy access to relief. Many lawmakers and advocates for the poor say filing a tax return shouldn’t be necessary for people on Social Security because the government already knows how to send this population monthly checks. The $2.2 trillion aid legislation, passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, said that if someone has not filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, the U.S. Treasury should get their information from Social Security, if applicable. (Wash Post)

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Baltimore faces $42.3 million deficit as coronavirus pandemic upends economic activity

With fewer people driving, the city is collecting less money from parking meters and cameras that record traffic violations. With fewer people traveling, revenue tied to tourism is plummeting, meaning less coming in from hotel taxes. And with fewer people working, income tax revenue is expected to be down, too. (Balt Sun)

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