State’s Outdoor Masking Order Lifted, as Metrics Improve

Governor Hogan lifted the statewide order regarding outdoor masking, citing revised CDC guidance and improved metrics for COVID caseloads and vaccinations - but urged Marylanders to remain smart and to get vaccinated. From materials from the Governor's office: With consistent improvements in key statewide health metrics and a fast pace of vaccinations, Governor Hogan today lifted the outdoor mask mandate in Maryland and all restrictions for outdoor dining. The governor also announced that the state…

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President’s Proposal for Tuition-free Community College: 75/25 Federal/State Split

President Biden described elements of his "American Families Plan" during his April 28 address - including a proposal to make two-year colleges tuition free. The details involve state opt-in, and a funding split between the federal and state governments. https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1387581286034939904 The White House released a statement about the entire American Families Plan, detailing its multiple proposals. Among them, this component regarding education opportunities: Add at least four years of free education. Investing in education is…

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Civic Participation: One Possible Upside of the Shutdowns?

An author on Route Fifty argues that wider use of remote access tools may mark an expansion in civic and public participation in governance. Megan Asikainen from CivicClerk (a component of CivicPlus, the company that developed and manages MACo's website), talks through the remote access mini-revolution born from the health pandemic...and finds a silver lining in making policy processes even more open to the public, through wider acceptance of online access tools. From the Route…

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Maryland Sets Vax Sights on “No Arm Left Behind”

Governor Hogan announced a redoubled effort to expand COVID vaccinations across Maryland, with a "No Arm Left Behind" Initiative from the Governor's press release: The governor announced this new series of initiatives as the state surpassed 4 million vaccinations. Maryland ranks 12th in the nation for vaccinating its total population and is outpacing the national average in all of the key vaccination metrics. Expanded Walk-Up Lines. The State of Maryland is expanding no-appointment necessary opportunities at mass vaccination…

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National Debate on Health-Triggered “Shutdown Powers” Continues

State legislatures are debating a variety of proposals designed to clarify or curtail the government's ability to issue "shutdown orders" and similar declarations under their public health emergency powers. With the COVID-19 health pandemic still undermining much economic activity, many state legislatures are grappling with the policy behind many governmental actions taken to protect public health. Advocates for reduced governmental authority city business failures as arguments for lesser "emergency powers" that could lead to, among…

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RIP, Former Kent County Commissioner William Pickrum

Former Kent County Commissioner, and MACo Leader, William Pickrum died at age 73 this week. From coverage on the Kent Pilot website: He was elected in 2002 to the Kent County Board of Commissioners where he served four terms until losing re-election in 2018. Pickrum represented Kent County at the Maryland Association of Counties where he rose to 1st Vice-President. Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian served alongside Pickrum for three terms. Aside from Fithian, Pickrum…

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Will 2021 Bring a Wave of Evictions?

The General Assembly considered, but did not pass, legislation to codify Maryland's current policy staving off evictions of lease-holding tenants -  advocates worry that may open the door to widespread "failure to pay" evictions. Among the subjects of extensive government assistance has been renter relief - seeking to avoid massive tenant evictions while many Americans have lost their regular incomes due to economic disruptions of the pandemic. The rights of tenants "holding over" after the…

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Sweeping Police Reforms Passed, Await Governor’s Action

Following extended debate across both chambers, the General Assembly passed a suite of bills intended to add to police accountability and standards. The mostly party-line vote has stakeholders awaiting the Governor's action on the several proposals. Police reforms have gathered public attention for many months, and Maryland is among many states contemplating broad reforms to discipline and accountability for officers. Following a complex, and sometimes contentious, debate on multiple bills, the General Assembly finally passed…

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Counties Central on Post-Pandemic Mental Health Efforts

A report from NACo and the National Council for Behavioral Health details county governments role in mental health services, and illustrates a clinic-based model for that approach that may be well-suited for the post-pandemic environment. This article is drawn from our partners at the National Association of Counties, whose blog routinely contains topics of major interest to Maryland counties. America’s 3,069 counties are integral to the nation’s behavioral health system, making fiscal investments in both…

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Schrader Confirmed as Maryland Health Secretary

New State Health Secretary Dennis Schrader was confirmed by the Senate to assume his full role, following dense vaccine oversight meetings throughout the session. Dennis Schrader, now formally the Maryland Secretary of Health, received his full confirmation of the Senate on Friday April 2. The approval came toward the end of the legislative session, where public health matters, and COVID vaccinations in particular, have occupied much public attention and concern. Whie the final vote on…

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