FCC Order Aims to Bolster Rural Broadband Access Amid COVID-19 Epidemic

The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau today granted temporary spectrum access to 33 wireless internet services providers serving 330 counties in 29 states, including Maryland, in order to serve rural communities facing increased broadband demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary order allows these providers to use the lower 45 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for 60 days. "Like everyone else, rural Americans are facing an increased need for broadband…

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Montgomery Plans to Create $20 Million Fund for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus

The Montgomery County Council has introduced legislation designed to get money flowing quickly to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. The $20 million fund would provide companies with $75,000 each to deal with the burdens. The Washington Business Journal reports: The full County Council introduced legislation on the topic Tuesday with County Executive Marc Elrich’s support. The new grants will be open to any business or nonprofit with 100 or fewer full-time employees, a bid…

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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Hit Record 3.3 Million Amid COVID-19 Epidemic

A record 3.3 million Americans, including 42,000 Marylanders, filed for unemployment benefits last week, as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level, according to the United States Department of Labor. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally…

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Governor Hogan Closes Non-Essential Businesses – What’s Deemed Essential?

During a press conference Monday morning, Governor Larry Hogan called for all non-essential businesses to close by 5:00 pm. The term "non-essential" left many people wondering - what businesses are considered an essential service? To clear up the confusion, the Governor's Office has released an infographic detailing what businesses are considered essential. For further clarification, the Governor's Office also released an Interpretive Guidance Document, that includes a detailed list of businesses that can remain open…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

An overview of MACo’s advocacy on business affairs legislation in the 2020 General Assembly. Through business affairs advocacy, MACo seeks to protect local regulatory and licensing authority, enhance citizens’ safety, and improve access to regulated services. This year, for the first time in since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due to precautionary social distancing measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, many bills did not have…

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Maryland Receives SBA Designation for Low-Interest Loans During COVID-19 Crisis

Governor Larry Hogan today announced that Maryland has received official designation from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides low-interest federal disaster loans for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the SBA, the loans will help alleviate financial strain and allow businesses to pay bills, payroll, and accounts payable, with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can apply…

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Senate Amends Digitial Ad Tax onto E-Cig Tax and Regulations Bill

A bill imposing taxes and regulations on electronic smoking devices and other tobacco products has been amended in the Senate to include provisions of a bill imposing HB 732 – Electronic Smoking Devices, Other Tobacco Products, and Cigarettes – Taxation and Regulation passed third reader in the Senate. As introduced the bill increased the tobacco tax rate on cigarettes and other tobacco products and imposed a tax on electronic smoking devices. It also removed the…

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Comptroller Urges $500 Million in Small Business Relief From State’s Rainy Day Fund

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot today is calling for Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly to dip into the State’s Rainy Day Fund to provide a minimum of $500 million for small businesses that will be critically impacted by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s called a rainy day fund and in about two weeks, it’s going to be raining harder than we have ever seen in the State of Maryland for these small businesses,”…

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Counties Oppose Removal of Local Permitting Authority for Electric Fences

On March 12, 2020, MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu and Bill Jorch, from Maryland Municipal League, testified before the Senate Finance Committee to oppose SB 883 (CF HB 1216) – Business Regulation – Security Systems – Battery-Charged Fences. This bill, proposed by businesses wanting to avoid the permitting processes some counties require, would restrict local permitting authority and oversight over electric security fences. From the MACo Testimony: In Maryland, zoning regulations, permitting requirements, and code enforcement are…

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