Maryland Department of Labor reports cutting unemployment claims backlog in half over past week, still 35,000 claims pending

The Maryland Department of Labor reported Thursday that it has processed more than 93% of the nearly 540,000 unemployment claims that have been filed in the state since the coronavirus pandemic began in early March, leaving almost 35,000 claims in an adjudication backlog. Those claims, pending because of unresolved issues, represent about 6.5% of the total claims filed in the state from March 9 to June 13, though the department notes that is less than half as many as were in the backlog last week. On June 11, the department expedited more than 78% of its pending claims by switching those claims from regular unemployment to pandemic unemployment assistance, a program created under the coronavirus relief bill. (Balt Sun)

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More than 60 groups call for police reforms in Maryland

More than 60 organizations are calling on Maryland lawmakers to support police reforms, including taking officers out of schools, making investigations into police misconduct more transparent and limiting the use of force. The groups calling for the changes include the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Common Cause, the Innocence Project, the League of Women Voters of Maryland and several chapters of the NAACP. (WTOP)

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Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski Resigns Amid Accusations Of Racial Bias

A police chief in a Maryland county near the nation’s capital resigned Thursday amid reports alleging racial bias and discrimination toward officers of color. Prince George’s County police Chief Hank Stawinski steps down after leading the department since 2016, news outlets reported. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks made the announcement and said she accepted his resignation effective immediately. (WJZ)

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Montgomery exec asks for suggestions on budget cuts to help with pandemic shortfalls

Facing a projected pandemic-related revenue shortfall of up to $600 million, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has asked department heads and the schools and parks systems to identify potential cuts in their 2021 budgets. Executive branch departments such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the police department have been asked to cut 6 percent of their tax-funded budgets. The schools and parks systems have been asked to submit revised spending plans but have not been given a specific target, said budget director Richard Madaleno. (Wash Post)

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Maryland elections board worries about ballot privacy, considers concealing voters’ signatures during mailing

The Maryland Board of Elections agreed Thursday to survey local election boards across the state about whether they believe a privacy envelope should be included with vote-by-mail ballots for upcoming elections. The board met to discuss lessons learned from the state’s June 2 primary and to look ahead to improvements that could be made for the November general election. (Balt Sun)

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Board of Public Works Rejects Multimillion-Dollar Prison Medical Contract

The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to nix an emergency modification to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ health care contract that would have tacked an additional 30% onto the state’s monthly fee for unspecified COVID-19 costs. Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) said that the state has a statutory obligation, but “also a moral imperative, frankly, to ensure the safety and well being of the inmates that are under our care.” (Md Matters)

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Parrott calls Supreme Court decision affirming gay rights in the workplace 'disappointing'

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington) said he is disappointed by a recent Supreme Court decision that affirmed anti-discrimination protections for members of the LGBTQ community in the workplace. “The justices are supposed to be strict constitutional justices. They’re supposed to follow the U.S. Constitution and follow the way the law was actually written and not try to come up with law from the bench. And, unfortunately, what they just did was develop law from the bench,” Parrott told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Tuesday. (Balt Sun)

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Flood mitigation, Stanton Center, road resurfacing: Annapolis City Council approved $228 million in capital projects over the next 6 years

In addition to passing next year’s $147 million operating budget Monday, the Annapolis City Council approved millions of dollars in spending on capital projects, from flood mitigation at City Dock to a new gym floor at Stanton Center and new road resurfacing around the city. While most of the last two months were spent negotiating a balanced budget in the midst of a pandemic that has caused revenue shortfalls and uncertain budget projections, the council approved $228 million in new and ongoing capital projects over a six-year period. (Balt Sun)

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