Friday Five | March 4, 2022

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.


1. State of the Union: Biden vows to halt Russia, hit inflation

In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Biden vowed to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine, tame soaring U.S. inflation and deal with the fading but still dangerous COVID-19 virus. During his speech, Biden highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and announced that the U.S. is following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He then addressed troubles at home, including the continued spike in energy costs and consumer prices, affecting American families and harming the country’s economy.

“Too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” Biden said. “Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel. I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”

Biden also took the opportunity to highlight the nation’s progress from a year ago, saying the majority of the U.S. population is now vaccinated, and millions more are back at work. He said it was time to return to pre-pandemic routines and announced a series of new government measures that would support this initiative. At the end of his speech, the President emphasized how proposals like extending the child tax credit and bringing down both child care and healthcare costs would counteract some of the challenges caused by the continued increase in prices.

Read the full story here.


2. White House unveils pandemic ‘reset’ plan, says shutdowns, school closures no longer necessary

On Wednesday, the White House unveiled a new pandemic road map that calls for better surveillance of new variants, dispensing on-site antivirals when someone tests positive and eliminating future school and business closings. The plan was released hours after President Biden announced a pandemic reset in his State of the Union address, signaling the U.S. is ready to enter a new phase. The plan focuses on four goals, including:

“We look to a future when Americans no longer fear lockdowns, shutdowns, and our kids not going to school,” the plan states. “It’s a future when the country relies on the powerful layers of protection we have built and invests in the next generation of tools to stay ahead of this virus.”

Read the full story here.


3. Lawmakers introduce bills to bolster cybersecurity

Members of the General Assembly rolled out a package of bills to increase protection for state and local government online networks following the discovery of vulnerabilities in the state’s cybersecurity systems. The two bills, HB 1202 and SB 754, would require the Maryland Department of Emergency Management to help local governments prepare for the possibility of a cyberattack and would create a Local Cybersecurity Support Fund to help smaller governments upgrade their security systems. The legislation initially called for $1.5 billion in bond funding from the Maryland Stadium Authority to upgrade the state’s legacy IT systems. But the cost of modernizing the Department of Health’s legacy system alone will cost about $2 billion, which means a new source of revenue will have to be identified for the legislation to be sustainable.

Read the full story here.


4. U.S. Chamber of Commerce – Record high Russian oil imports show need for smarter domestic energy policy 

On Tuesday, the Department of Energy released U.S. energy trade data for December 2021, giving us a first look at last year’s total imports from Russia. In 2021, the U.S. imported 245 million barrels of crude oil and related petroleum products from Russia, which equates to nearly 672,000 barrels per day, an all-time high and an increase from just four years ago. In a recent article, Martin Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, discusses the need for improved domestic energy policies to increase energy security and help allies and partners reduce their dependence on Russia’s oil and natural gas. With Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and gasoline prices racing toward $4 a gallon, he lists several measures for policymakers to address our nation’s energy security vulnerabilities.Read the full story here.


5. Applications for BGE’s $20,000 Energizing Small Business Grant are now open 

BGE awarded over $3.5 million to Maryland entrepreneurs last year to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. This grant program is part of BGE’s $25 million pledge to assist with pandemic relief and recovery and is expected to run through 2023. The next round of applications is now open to qualifying businesses with 25 employees or less and will close on March 25, 2022, at 6 p.m. Apply here.


Upcoming Legislative Briefings and Hearings 

Tuesday, March 08, 2022 

Wednesday, March 09, 2022 

Thursday, March 10, 2022 


You’re Invited: Inspire MD on May 12 

Let’s reconnect and raise a glass to inspirational Marylanders at our BIGGER & BETTER, one-of-a-kind, spectacular event that will make you inspired to be part of our incredible business community.

Learn more here


 

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