A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Maryland to lift COVID-19 state of emergency on July 1
On Tuesday, Governor Hogan announced that after 15 months, Maryland will lift its COVID-19 state of emergency effective July 1, as well as any other emergency restrictions and mandates. The announcement came after more than 70 percent of Marylanders have received at least one vaccine dose, and the state reaching an all-time low positivity rate of 0.82%. The order also ends the rest of the state’s mask mandate in any settings, including schools, camps and childcare facilities, except where required by local rules. Finally, other regulations will be subject to a 45-day grace period, effective July 1 – August 15, including the state’s ban on evictions and foreclosures, winding down emergency health operations and renewing driver’s licenses.
2. U.S. Treasury awards $1.25 B to CDFIs to support economic relief in underserved communities
The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Tuesday awarded $1.25 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to 863 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in response to economic challenges created by the pandemic, particularly in underserved communities. This grant program is intended to support activities such as financial products, financial services, development services and other operational activities that will enable CDFIs to disburse funds rapidly to those recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“In serving places that the financial sector historically hasn’t served well, CDFIs lift our whole economy up. We know that for every dollar injected into a CDFI, it catalyzes eight more dollars in private-sector investment, meaning that today’s announcement might lead to an additional $10 billion in investment,” said Secretary Janet Yellen.
Read the official press release here.
3. Biden signs bill making Juneteenth, day commemorating the end of slavery, a federal holiday
Yesterday, President Biden signed legislation to make June 19, or Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery, a federal holiday. “By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come,” said Biden. He said that although this is a big step towards a more equitable nation, there is still much work to do. Biden listed a number of policy objectives toward that goal but added that they’ll never be achieved if the right to vote remains unthreatened.
Read the full story here.
4. Maryland Comptroller urges Hogan to offer incentives to lure workers back
State Comptroller Peter Franchot called for a statewide incentive to coax unemployed residents to return to the workplace during Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting. During the meeting, Franchot called on Governor Hogan to offer the carrot rather than the stick to get people back to work, referring to the state’s decision to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits next month. Some states are offering incentives to encourage workers to return to the job market including Colorado, Connecticut, Arizona and Oklahoma, who are all offering bonuses of up to $2,000 per worker to return to work.
“I’m not suggesting that’s something Maryland should do, but maybe we could take a look at your decision and come up with some other more, something that incentivizes people rather than penalizes them or punishes them,” said Franchot.
Read the full story here.
5. Maryland companies say they won’t make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, at least not yet
A day after Maryland hospitals announced they would start requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all their workers, businesses, retail associations and consumer groups in the state said they were not ready to make the same decision. The debate about inoculation mandates comes after COVID-19 positivity rates fell to an all-time low and workers and consumers are now more safely being reintroduced back to offices and other public places. In light of this new data, many companies have said they will encourage employees to get vaccinated rather than making it an employment requisite. Although public health experts say vaccinations are the single best pathway out of the pandemic, most organizations don’t subscribe to a one size fits all mandate and believe each employer should create a vaccine policy that fits them.
Read the full story here.
2021 Legislative Report: Stay in the know! Following the 2021 Legislative Session our government affairs team provided a detailed overview of the bills relevant to the business community that passed or failed and the Chamber’s position and action on each.
TE Program opens up a world of possibilities to Maryland students. Our VP of Membership and Development Whitney Harmel shares the history of the Maryland Foundation’s Teacher Externship Program and how it is building bridges between educators and businesses while shaping our future workforce.