Senate Gives Final Approval to Early Voting Center Expansion

The Maryland Senate gave final approval to a bill expanding the number of early voting centers across the state Wednesday after a final round of heated partisan debate and failed Republican amendments. House Bill 745, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery), would increase the number of early voting centers required in Maryland’s counties based on the number of registered voters in each jurisdiction. The legislation passed the Senate in a 33-14 vote.

Here’s what’s in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan and how he plans to pay for it

President Joe Biden says his proposal for an aggressive series of infrastructure investments would require $2 trillion in spending over eight years but could create millions of jobs. It would be funded by higher corporate taxes. A closer look at where the money is going and where it’s coming from: $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways and roads that are in the worst shape. The White House outline estimated 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) of roadways would be repaired, while economically significant bridges and 10,000 smaller bridges would get fixed. $85 billion for public transit, doubling the federal government’s commitment in an effort to shorten the repair backlog and expand service.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Maryland bill would ban hate symbols in public schools

Hereford High School senior Vita Shats had seen it weekly. The Confederate flag on T-shirts. The swastikas in bathrooms. She’d seen a fellow student with a Confederate flag on his belt, flaunting it in a Black student’s face. Two years ago, she talked to her school principal about implementation of a policy to ban those symbols — but was told it was beyond the school’s jurisdiction. So, she tried two superintendents. Neither got back to her, she said. There was no statewide policy regarding hate symbols in schools — and Hereford High didn’t have one, either — leaving Shats and students like her with few options.

Vaccination rollout ‘test’ could decide health chief’s confirmation says Md. Senate leader

Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said on Friday that the fate of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s acting health secretary, Dennis R. Schrader, could hinge on how well his agency handles an expected surge in COVID-19 vaccines. Schrader has said that Maryland’s distribution network was built for a time when the state is receiving far more doses than have been available so far. The state’s system consists of high-volume drive-through sites, hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, nursing homes and other locations. Schrader said Maryland is now able to do 500,000 doses per week.

Read More: WTOP
Senate Unanimously Approves $51 Billion Budget Plan

Maryland’s Senate gave unanimous approval Thursday to a nearly $51 billion budget plan, and final negotiations with House lawmakers could begin as early as Friday. The budget has grown steadily during the legislative session thanks to federal stimulus funding and higher-than-anticipated revenue estimates. Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Garrett), a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said he was worried throughout the legislative session about additional funding considerations and supplemental budgets continually flowing into the committee.

Businessman David Blair to challenge Montgomery executive Marc Elrich in 2022

Potomac businessman David Blair is announcing his bid for Montgomery County executive on Wednesday, becoming the first known challenger to incumbent Marc Elrich (D), who plans to seek reelection in 2022. Blair, a Montgomery native who built his wealth by running a prescription drug benefits company, poured a record $5.4 million into his campaign in 2018 and lost to Elrich by 77 votes in the crowded Democratic primary. In an interview Tuesday, he said he has spent the past three years leading a nonprofit advocacy group and, more recently, working with his wife to support vulnerable families affected by the pandemic.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin Decries Anti-Asian Discrimination, Violence During House Judiciary Committee Hearing

Following the deadly shootings at three Georgia spas, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin decried the recent wave of anti-Asian violence and discrimination that has even affected members of Gov. Larry Hogan’s family. “Governor Hogan told me that close family friends have been assaulted in a convenience store, screamed at by racists telling them to go back to China and told that they did not want to sit next to them on an airplane because they were Asian and had COVID,” Raskin recounted during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.

Read More: WJZ
House Gives Preliminary Approval to $50 Billion Proposed Budget

After debating social issues including vouchers for private schools and access to abortion, the House of Delegates gave initial approval to a $50.45 billion budget plan Thursday. The chamber debated aspects of the spending plan for more than two hours Thursday night, ultimately approving a budget that was significantly bolstered by a dramatic influx in federal stimulus funding and state revenues that were recently projected at about $900 million more than previous estimates.

Maryland’s pro-Confederate state song is close to being ditched, after repeated tries

For 82 years, Marylanders have listened to a state song that is a bloody call to arms in support of the Confederacy. Now, the tune is likely to lose its honored status. Maryland lawmakers are poised to vote to abolish “Maryland, My Maryland” from the laws of the state, taking the position that having no state song is better than having one that’s offensive and advocated for spurning “the Northern scum” and joining the proslavery Confederacy.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
At-Large Districts Are Relics That Produce ‘Absurd’ Results, Voting Expert Says

When the House of Delegates voted earlier this month to advance House Bill 655, Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) celebrated the moment, writing on social media that “for too long across this country, undemocratic local laws have denied voters of color their full enfranchisement.” The measure would require that county commissioners who represent districts be elected solely by the voters of that district, not the entire county.