Maryland officials warn of lengthy timeline on virus vaccine

It will likely be at least six to eight months longer before a coronavirus vaccine can be distributed in a best-case scenario, leading Maryland health officials and lawmakers said Wednesday as they make plans for the state. Senate President Bill Ferguson said he spoke on Tuesday with one of the principal investigators at Johns Hopkins University who is working on a vaccine now in its third phase. While there has been remarkable progress, Ferguson said the logistics that go into distributing a vaccine are "enormous and herculean.” (Times-News)

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Maryland lawmakers may force former Hogan chief of staff to answer questions about payout

A General Assembly committee with the power to subpoena witnesses has scheduled a special meeting next week, as lawmakers say they still have questions about a six-figure payout made to the governor’s former chief of staff. The Legislative Policy Committee, a bipartisan panel that is co-chaired by the Senate president and the speaker of the House of Delegates, can issue subpoenas or delegate subpoena authority to others. The committee, which typically only meets once a year to approve the General Assembly’s budget, will meet Wednesday afternoon. (Balt Sun)

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman names new deputy chief administrative officers for land use and human services

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman named two women to top posts Wednesday, hiring Lori Rhodes as the deputy chief administrative officer for land use and formalizing Pam Jordan’s position as deputy chief administrative officer for Health and Human Services. Pittman said both Rhodes and Jordan have the experience to deliver on his goals for managing development in an environmentally responsible way and protecting all residents' health and wellness. The two are effective in their new roles starting Thursday. (Balt Sun)

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Maryland Lawmakers Propose Alcohol Tax Hike For Health Plan

Maryland lawmakers and health care advocates proposed increasing the state’s alcohol tax on Wednesday to generate millions of dollars to address health disparities, which have been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. Supporters are backing a hike in the state’s sales tax on alcohol from 9% to 10% in 2021. Maryland last raised its sales tax on alcohol in 2011. (WJZ)

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Harford’s charter allows Glassman’s appointment of top administrative official to stand, despite council’s 4-3 vote against him

Ben Lloyd was officially made the new director of the Glassman administration at Tuesday’s meeting of the Harford County Council, but not in a traditional way. Lloyd, previously a senior budget analyst for Harford County government, was approved for his new role despite a majority of the council voting against his appointment. According to the county charter, however, a five-vote super-majority of the council is required to reject a county executive’s appointment. This appeared to cause some confusion at the meeting after the vote was taken until council attorney Charles Kearney Jr. clarified. (Balt Sun)

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Senate Panel to Hold Rare Interim Bill Hearings on Police Reform Next Week

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear testimony on bills surrounding police accountability and reform next week, committee Chairman William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) announced Tuesday evening. “Systemic injustices in policing have plagued our communities for generations and developing the best solutions requires legislators to be thoughtful and purposeful,” Smith said in a statement. (Md Matters)

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State Launches Program Aimed at Reducing COVID-19 in Hispanic Communities

The Maryland Health Department has convened an inter-agency task force aimed at reducing the COVID-19 positivity rate in Hispanic communities, Dr. Jinlene Chan, deputy secretary of public health services, told lawmakers Tuesday. The Hispanic Outreach Task Force, spearheaded by the Department of Health, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Human Services in partnership with local organizations, is looking to provide support to Baltimore City to connect underserved Hispanic communities to social services, prevention tactics, isolation housing, educational materials and contact tracing. (WTOP)

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Annapolis City Council approves legislation for deputy city manager position; alderman withdraws bill to expand affordable housing

The Annapolis City Manager will soon have a new deputy focused solely on resilience and sustainability efforts in the city after the City Council passed Monday a charter amendment creating the position. Among the deputy’s powers would be developing and maintaining resilience and sustainability initiatives and advising city leadership on climate and energy use, waste reduction, green buildings, water and air quality, among others. (Capital)

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