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Md. Labor secretary implores lawmakers to hold off on unemployment tax changes during ‘tenuous economic time’

With short-term solvency and an ongoing pandemic in play, the head of Maryland’s Department of Labor recommended lawmakers not make any tax policy changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system for at least another year. Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson went before the state Joint Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee on Jan. 6 and discussed a range of issues about the system, which has been used extensively since the pandemic first emerged nearly two years ago.

Hogan Shares Plan To Protect Maryland’s Seniors By Testing Nursing Home Staff
Gov. Larry Hogan plans to protect Maryland’s seniors by requiring staff, volunteers and vendors who work at nursing homes across the state to take a COVID-19 test twice a week. Hogan shared the details of that plan during a press conference Thursday at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton. He said the Maryland Department of Health would issue an order that makes testing mandatory.
Read More: WJZ
Climate activists up the pressure on Md. lawmakers as session starts

Six Maryland environment professors penned a letter to the presiding officers of the General Assembly this week, imploring them to commit to reducing climate pollution in Maryland by 60% below 2006 levels by 2030. They cited recommendations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released a major report last summer revealing that drastic reductions in emissions are urgent and necessary to prevent a climate catastrophe.

Read More: WTOP
Annapolis state Sen. Sarah Elfreth elected as chair of Chesapeake Bay Commission

Annapolis state Sen. Sarah Elfreth has been elected the 2022 chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. Elfreth, a Democrat, will serve a one-year term for the body made up of bipartisan legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania with the goal of pushing for policies to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She takes over for outgoing Chair Del. David Bulova, a Virginia Democrat, who held the role in 2021.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Early Campaign Finance Numbers Show Moore’s Haul Dwarfing Other Democrats

Candidates for statewide office began rolling out their annual fundraising numbers in dramatic fashion Thursday, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore reporting that he pulled in an eye-popping $4.8 million since entering the race last June. Three other Democratic candidates for governor, Tom Perez, John B. King Jr. and Jon Baron, each surpassed $2 million in money raised over the past several months — figures that would be impressive in most election cycles but were blown out of the water this time by Moore’s haul.

Covid Latest: Hogan Says ‘We Are Starting To Level Off’ But Concern Remains For Hospitals
Maryland recorded an all-time high in hospitalizations Wednesday with 3,462 patients. While some doctors believe the Northeast may be nearing the peak of the omicron wave, top federal officials warn the variant remains highly contagious. “Most people are going to get covid, and what we need to do is make sure that the hospitals can still function,” Acting FDA Administrator Dr. Janet Woodcock said this week.
Read More: WJZ
Maryland Department of Health confirms ransomware attack crippled its systems last month

A ransomware attack at the Maryland Department of Health crippled its systems last month and forced many of its services offline, the state agency confirmed Wednesday. For weeks, the department described the event as a “network security breach” and offered few other details about the nature of the incident. Services ranging from the reporting of daily COVID-19 surveillance data to basic local health department functions were rendered unavailable, and officials declined to say definitively when such operations would be restored.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Maryland Lawmakers To Tackle Multi-Billion Dollar Budget Surplus As General Assembly Convenes
Lawmakers are back in Annapolis for the start of the legislative session of the General Assembly, and they’ll have to figure out how to spend the state’s $2.5 billion budget surplus. The Democrats have their long list of agenda items, and so does Governor Larry Hogan. There is one thing they may agree on – a tax cut for Marylanders – but a disagreement may arise on how to pay for it. Other big-ticket items include the legalization of marijuana and how to tackle crime in Baltimore City. This will be the third year in which COVID-19 has impacted the session in some capacity.
Read More: WJZ
Maryland governor proposes $4.6 billion tax relief package 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposed a major tax-relief package on Tuesday for the upcoming legislative session, but much of what the Republican is supporting has stalled in the General Assembly in recent years. Hogan said it would deliver more than $4.6 billion in relief to Maryland families, small businesses and retirees.

Congressional Black Caucus Calls for Senate Action on Voting Rights

President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday to push for the swift passage of two voting rights bills, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are applying pressure for action as well. During a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, caucus Chair Joyce Beatty said that members are concerned about Republican-led state legislatures’ enactment of strict voting requirements in response to the false claim by the former president that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

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